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Last Edited:
12-Sep-2004

 

Participating in Conferences

In the previous help sections you learned how to log in to V.H.H.Scott Forum and move around among conferences and messages. Now you are ready to jump in and start posting your own thoughts and ideas to conferences. As noted in previous sections, you can liken conferences to books, topics to chapter titles, and messages to specific content. Your part in writing these "books" is to post new topics or reply to existing topics or messages. Others participating in the conferences add their own perspectives and knowledge. The dynamic nature of online conferencing means you can never predict its course or ending. Yet the journey is often informative and interesting. Depending on the purpose of the conference, a you can reach a goal (such as completing a work project) or simply enjoy the sights along the way (such as learning about a favorite hobby or vacation spot).

You can participate in V.H.H.Scott Forum conferences in two different ways. First, you can read and post messages directly at the V.H.H.Scott Forum site using your web browser. Second, you can read and post messages indirectly using your email program.

You can also mix and match the two methods. For example, when you are at the office you may find that visiting the conference area with your browser over the high-speed office network is fast and easy. However, when you are traveling or working from home, the slower connection and expensive phone calls probably make participating by email cheaper and more convenient. Being able to keep up on the discussion regardless of your location makes V.H.H.Scott Forum an invaluable communications tool. This page tells you how to be participate in V.H.H.Scott Forum conferences using both methods.

Types of Conferences and Messages

Before getting into all the nuts and bolts of posting messages, take a few minutes to review some basics about V.H.H.Scott Forum's conferences and messages. Any board on a V.H.H.Scott Forum site can have four different types of conferences:

Public conferences let anyone read and post messages.
Moderated conferences have one or more persons exercising editorial control Anyone can post, but the messages are reviewed before being posted. A moderated conference helps keep discussions focused.
Private conferences are limited to specific users who are authorized to read and post messages. Private conferences allow you to discuss confidential or nondisclosure topics, such as new products being developed. Private conferences appear in the Conferences list only for authorized users.
Read-only conferences are used to distribute official information to V.H.H.Scott Forum users, such as company policies or product announcements and updates. You can read, but not post messages to a read-only conference.

Note that the conference types can also be mixed. For example, an administrator might create a private, read-only conference for a company's accounting group to post financial data for executive managers. Or, a private conference might also have a moderator to move the discussion along.

V.H.H.Scott Forum conferences can have two different types of messages:

Topic messages start a new thread of a discussion within the overall subject of the conference. You can start a new topic at any time and you should start a new topic if your message is not a direct response to a previously posted message.
Reply messages respond to an existing topic or reply message and keep the current discussion thread going. Replies are always indented under the message being replied to in the Conferences list.

As you read and start posting messages, these differences will become more clear.

Participating through a Browser

When you participate in conferences through your browser, you can take full advantage of V.H.H.Scott Forum's many message posting features. You can read multiple messages at once and understand where the discussion has already been before jumping in. You can also preview your messages, spell check them, post anonymously, and include file attachments. You can also edit or delete messages you have already posted. These tasks and more are described in this section.

Posting a Topic Message

When you post to a conference, you are either adding to a current topic or starting a new topic. If you have something to contribute to the general theme of a conference (say, to ask others for good afternoon tea spots), but it doesn't relate to the existing topic, then you can start a new topic. If you are the first visitor to a conference, you will also need to post a new topic message. This section describes how to post a new topic message. Responding to existing messages is described later in this chapter.

To post a new topic, follow these steps:

  1. Select a conference by clicking the conference name or expansion box (+ to the left of the conference name).
  2. Choose from one of three ways to display the Post form.
    From the V.H.H.Scott Forum menubar, click Post.
    From an open message, click Post on the message menu.
    From the V.H.H.Scott Forum menubar, click More to display the More Options menu. On this menu, click Conference Profiles to display a list of all conferences. Click the conference to which you want to add a new topic. From the conference profile, click Post a message to this conference.
  3. Enter the new topic name in the Topic field. Keep the topic name short.
  4. Choose any of the following options by checking the appropriate box(es) in the menu at the top of the message posting form:
    Convert line breaks to HTML breaks to automatically turn line breaks into carriage returns or blank lines. If you deselect this option, all lines in your message are run together.
    Preformatted text (No HTML) to turn off HTML features. This setting is helpful when you are inserting text from another source.
    Anonymous to post anonymously. Your name is not attached to the posting.
    Preview message to review your message before you post it.
    Preview/Spell check to review and spell check your message-this is a default setting.
    Attach File to attach a file to your message.
  5. Type in your message. You can include HTML tags for formatting as well as links to other web pages and images. Note that any links you include must have the full URL, such as http://www.myserver.com/linked.html. Some V.H.H.Scott Forums may not allow active links in messages. If you have a question about this feature, contact the V.H.H.Scott Forum administrator.
  6. When you complete your message, click Post. Depending on which options you have selected, V.H.H.Scott Forum either posts your message immediately or allows you to preview it (with or without spell checking). Previewing and spell checking are discussed in the following sections.

In a moderated conference your message may not be posted until the moderator reviews and verifies it.

When the new message is posted, the Conferences list refreshes automatically, showing the new topic. V.H.H.Scott Forum users subscribing by to the conference's mailing list also receive the message the next time they check their email.

Previewing your Message

You can preview messages before you post them to ensure that they say what you really intended. Message preview comes in two flavors: without spell checking and with spell checking. Previewing without spell checking allows you to see any HTML properly converted, while previewing with spell checking allows you to catch and correct misspelled words.

To preview your message without spell checking, follow these steps::

  1. Check Preview on the Post message form.
  2. Enter the topic name, your message, and click Post. V.H.H.Scott Forum displays your message exactly as it will appear to other users on V.H.H.Scott Forum.
  3. If you are dissatisfied with your message and want to change it, click Back on your browser. If you are using a Netscape browser, you can also right-click your mouse, and click Back to get to the previous frame.
  4. Once you are satisfied with the appearance of your message, click Post. Your message is immediately posted to the conference and V.H.H.Scott Forum displays it in the Message window.

Spell-Checking Your Message

You can spell-check any message you post on V.H.H.Scott Forum by using V.H.H.Scott Forum's built-in dictionary. Each instance of a misspelled word is flagged as a link, which displays a list of suggested replacements. You can select a replacement or enter a different word. If you change misspelled words, you will see another preview of your message before posting it.

Attaching Files to Your Message

Attaching files to your V.H.H.Scott Forum messages is a handy way to give users ready access to information that doesn't fit well in a text message. For example, you may want to provide a spreadsheet or video clip for other V.H.H.Scott Forum users to review. You can attach one or more files to a message posting.

Your browser must support file attachment capability (Netscape Navigator 2.0 or higher; Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 with plug-in or higher) for uploading files. Almost any browser can download file attachments. Additionally, those who want to open the files must have the same or similar applications to open them.

To attach a file to your message, follow these steps:

  1. Check Attach file on the Post message form
  2. Type in your message, and click Post. If you selected Preview/Spell check or Preview, complete the preview and click Post. The Attach a File form opens.
  3. Click the appropriate Category radio button for the file you wish to attach. The category you select causes V.H.H.Scott Forum to display the corresponding icon next to the file attachment link in your posting, which gives other users a quick idea of the file type. The categories are as follows:
    Unknown if you do not know what type of file this is.
    Document if this is a text file.
    Image if this is a graphics file.
    Audio if this is a sound file.
    Multimedia if this is a multimedia file.
    Application if this is an application.
  4. Enter the name of the file in the File to upload field.

    - OR -

    Click Browse to select the attachment you want to upload from your directories. A File Upload dialog opens. Navigate through your directories to select the attachment. If there is no Browse button, your browser does not support file attachments. Click Open to continue, or click Cancel to cancel the upload, which has the effect of immediately posting your message.

  5. Enter the description of the file attachment in the File description field.
  6. If you want to attach more files, click the Upload another radio button.
  7. Click Upload Now to attach the file to your message. Depending on the size of the file and speed of your connection, this process may take a few minutes. Your message is immediately posted to the conference. The attachment appears as a hyperlink at the end of the message. An icon indicates the file type.
  8. If you clicked Upload another, the Attach a File form appears again. Repeat steps 3-7 for each file attachment you want to upload.

Posting a Reply Message

You can post a reply to any message within a topic. For example, if a topic has 10 messages, you can reply to the first message or to the tenth message. Whenever you reply to a message, your new message is indented under that message in the Conferences list to show other readers the thread of the conversation. Replies are displayed chronologically within each topic. You can also reply to a posting privately, by sending an email message to the original message poster. This section describes these two types of replies: public and private. In addition, note that posting a reply message uses many of the same basic steps as posting a topic message; these steps were the topic of the previous section.

To post a public reply

To reply publicly to the message you are currently reading, use one of the following options:

Select Reply from the menu at the top of the message you wish to respond to.
Select Reply/Quote from the menu to include text from the original message.

V.H.H.Scott Forum displays a message creation form for you to complete. The form is the same as the one for posting a new topic except the topic from the current message is displayed. You can use this topic or change it. Otherwise the form works the same as described in "Posting a Topic Message" earlier in this chapter. Please refer to that section for details.

To send a private reply

Rather than post a reply to the whole conference, you may prefer to send a reply only to the individual who posted the message. Some replies need to be shared with all the participants of a conference, while others are appropriate only for the individual who posted the message. V.H.H.Scott Forum lets you reply privately to the message author by email. Note that if a message was posted anonymously, you can not send a private response.

To reply to the author privately to the message you are currently reading, use one of the following options:

Select Email Reply from the menu at the top of the message you wish to reply to.
Click the poster's email address link in the From field of the message.

V.H.H.Scott Forum launches the email program associated with your browser with the recipient's email address included (but not the topic or any text from the message posting). You must enter a subject and your response. You may also wish to cut and paste the V.H.H.Scott Forum posting to provide context for the recipient.

Sending email replies uses your web browser's email capability. Your browser must be set up to send email; V.H.H.Scott Forum itself does not provide this email capability.

Editing Your Messages

You can edit messages that you have posted. For example, if you want to add or remove information from a message, you can edit it. Or, if you want to change the topic for a message, editing it is the way to do it. Note that if you posted a message to a board that does not require authentication (that is, you did not have to give a username and password to log in), the editing feature is unavailable.

To edit your message, follow these steps:

  1. From the Conferences list, locate the message you want to edit and click its name to display it in the Message menu.
  2. From the message menu, click Edit. An Edit Message form opens.
  3. Make the desired changes to the topic or text.
  4. Choose any of the following options by checking the appropriate box(es) in the menu at the top of the message posting form:
    Convert line breaks to HTML breaks to automatically turn line breaks into carriage returns or blank lines. If you deselect this option, all lines in your message are run together.
    Preformatted text (No HTML) to turn off HTML features. This setting is helpful when you are inserting text from another source.
    Anonymous to post anonymously. Your name is not attached to the posting.
    Preview message to review your message before you post it.
    Preview/Spell check to review and spell check your message-this is a default setting.
    Attach File to attach a file to your message.
  5. When you complete your edits, click Post. Depending on which options you have selected, V.H.H.Scott Forum either posts your message immediately or allows you to preview it (with or without spell checking). Previewing and spell checking are discussed earlier in this chapter. If this conference is moderated, the message is not posted until the moderator verifies it.

Deleting Your Messages

Once you have posted a message, you can delete it from the conference. You can only delete your own messages. For example, you posted a message to a conference that you decided would be better sent as a private email reply. You can delete the message. Note that if you posted a message to a board that does not require authentication (that is, you did not have to give a username and password to log in), the delete feature is unavailable. If you want to delete a message you posted, contact the V.H.H.Scott Forum administrator.

To delete a message, follow these steps:

  1. From the Conferences list, locate the message you want to delete and click its name.
  2. From the message menu, select Delete. V.H.H.Scott Forum displays a message asking if you are sure you want to delete the message.
  3. Click Yes if you want to delete this message. Your message is immediately deleted from the conference.
  4. Click No if you want to keep this message in the conference.

    If you accidentally delete a message, the V.H.H.Scott Forum administrator, board manager, or conference moderator can retrieve it from the V.H.H.Scott Forum archive. Please contact one of these persons for assistance. Usually there is a limit on how long archived messages are kept, so don't delay if you need the message back.

Participating through Email

Sometimes it is just not convenient to come to the V.H.H.Scott Forum site. Yet, you want to be in on the discussion. With V.H.H.Scott Forum 3.0's mailing list support, you can keep in touch by email. V.H.H.Scott Forum sends you all messages posted to the conferences you choose and then posts your email responses (either new topic or reply messages). You might think of email participation in V.H.H.Scott Forum much like being in a conference call. You can take part in the discussion without being in the room (although you might miss some diagrams being drawn on the whiteboard or the cinnamon buns a colleague brought to make the meeting more enjoyable!).

The benefits of email participation are numerous. Here are just a few:

You don't have to remember to visit the V.H.H.Scott Forum site. Busy people often find it hard to check V.H.H.Scott Forum for new messages. By receiving all messages in email, you don't have to worry. You automatically know what is happening.
You can save on connect time. If you are working remotely from a home office or while traveling, you can pick up V.H.H.Scott Forum messages when you pick up your other email. You can craft your replies offline and have them posted when you send your email.
You can immediately know when messages are posted to important conferences. Since mailing lists are on a per conference basis, you can subscribe to the conference mailing lists that most affect you. Then you receive messages as they are posted and don't have to constantly check the board for new ones. You may still decide to go to the board to read and reply but you know there is something waiting for you.
You can easily keep a record of a discussion. Receiving all conference postings in email lets you save them for future reference on your local system. For example, if a conference deals with your area of responsibility on a project, you can keep copies of all the messages posted to the conference as email messages.

That's a start on the list. You can think of more. This section tells you how to set up your V.H.H.Scott Forum account to receive mailing lists and then how to post messages to conferences via email. And, yes, it also tells you what you will miss by participating through email.

 

If you are participating on a board that does not require authentication (that is, you did not have to give a username and password to log in), the mailing list feature is unavailable.

Setting up Mailing List Support

Before you can participate in V.H.H.Scott Forum through email, you have to complete a few setup items. You must first select a format for receiving email from V.H.H.Scott Forum and then you must subscribe to specific conference mailing lists. This section gives instructions for these tasks.

Selecting a mailing list format

You can receive V.H.H.Scott Forum messages by email in one of three formats:

Non-digest

This format sends individual messages as they are posted. This format is best if you want to participate in conferences on a real-time basis by responding .

Digest

This format saves up all the messages from a conference for a day and sends them in a single email. The digest email starts with an index list of all messages in the email so you can get a quick overview of what happened. This format is best if you want to primarily read the discussion and only respond occasionally.

Digest/ZIPped

This format creates a digest and then compresses it into a standard zip file, which is sent once a day as a file attachment. You must be using a mail program that handles attachments and have an unzip program (such as WinZip) to open the file. This format is useful if the conferences have high volume and you want to get the messages as compact as possible. This format is also useful if you simply want to archive conference postings.

The format you select for the mailing list format is set in your user profile and is applied across all conferences. If you want or need a different format for different conferences, you should set up multiple accounts (see the section on this topic later in online help).

To verify or change your mailing list format, you must edit your user profile. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Select More from the V.H.H.Scott Forum menubar. The More Options menu appears.
  2. Click Edit Your Profile from the menu. The User Profile page appears.
  3. Scroll to the end of this page and select your preferred mailing list format by clicking the radio button next to it.
  4. Click Save to update your profile. V.H.H.Scott Forum responds with an Edits Saved message.

 

Subscribing to conference mailing lists

Choosing a mailing list format is only the first step. Next you must decide which conferences you want to receive by email and then subscribe to their mailing lists. Note that not all conferences may have mailing lists; setting up mailing lists is the responsibility of the V.H.H.Scott Forum administrator, board manager, or conference moderator. If a conference does not have a mailing list and you would like to receive email for that conference, contact the V.H.H.Scott Forum administrator.

To subscribe to one or more conference mailing lists, follow these steps:

  1. Select More from the V.H.H. Scott Forum menubar. The More Options menu appears.
  2. Click Mailing Lists from the menu. The Mailing Lists page appears.
  3. Check the box following the conference name to subscribe to its mailing list. Repeat for each conference you wish to subscribe to. The name of the mailing list is in parentheses following the Conference name.
  4. To unsubscribe to a mailing list, uncheck the box.
  5. Click Save to complete the subscription process. V.H.H.Scott Forum responds with an Edits Saved message. You will now start receiving the email for the conferences you selected.

    To receive email from V.H.H.Scott Forum, the email address you put in your V.H.H.Scott Forum user profile must exactly match the Reply-To email address used by your email program. If these addresses don't match, V.H.H.Scott Forum will not let you post messages via email. The Reply-To address is sometimes called the Return Address.

 

What if you want more than one mailing list format?

Let's say you want to participate by email in multiple conferences on one or more boards, but receiving the email for all these conferences in the same format is just not practical. For example, if you are a product manager, you will want to receive all the messages from conferences relating to your product in non-digest mode. But, if another board on the same site is dedicated to Human Resources, you might want to receive messages posted to those conferences in digest mode.

You can receive V.H.H.Scott Forum mailing lists in multiple formats by creating multiple accounts on the same site and selecting different mailing list formats in each account's user profile. Each account can have the same real name but must have different login names. Each account can also have the same email address, so you receive all messages at the same place, just in different formats. The trick is to login to V.H.H.Scott Forum and subscribe to conference mailing lists as the user with the desired mailing list format.

Here's a quick scenario: Sheila Reynolds wants to receive email from three conferences in non-digest mode, while for two others she wants it in digest mode. She has one account using the real name Sheila Reynolds and the login name skippy. The mailing list format for this account is non-digest, as set in her user profile. When logged in using the skippy login name, she subscribes to the three conferences that require non-digest mode mailing lists.

Next, she creates a new account by using the Login Again feature (from the More Options menu) and logging in as a new user. The new account also has the real name Sheila Reynolds, but the login name is buffy. In the user profile for this account, she selects Digest for the mailing list format. Finally, she subscribes to the two conferences that require digest mode. Now she will receive email from all five conferences but in different formats. She can also post conferences logged in as either user, but since her real name is the same, the distinction is transparent (except on a board that uses login names instead of real names).

V.H.H.Scott Forum does not limit how many accounts you can have or how many accounts can have the same real name. Each account must have a unique login name, but otherwise you can change any of the other settings. If the board is closed or the conference private, you will need to contact the V.H.H.Scott Forum administrator to set up the second account.

Reading Messages

Once you subscribe to a mailing list, you will start receiving messages posted to the conference for that list by email. If you chose non-digest format, the messages start arriving within seconds after being posted to the board. If you chose digest or digest/ZIPped format, you will receive an email once a day containing all messages posted in the last 24 hours. The V.H.H.Scott Forum administrator sets the time at which digest are sent out. You read these messages just as you would any other email.

Both non-digest and digest messages will generally appear in your inbox from the listmanager account for the V.H.H.Scott Forum site, which includes the domain name of the V.H.H.Scott Forum server. For example, that name may be something like Listmanager@securewebs.com. A non-digest message includes the address information and the message body, as shown in Figure 12-8. On the other hand, a digest message begins with a list of the messages by topic and poster, followed by the individual messages or an attached zip file containing the messages.

Posting a Reply Message

Replying to a V.H.H.Scott Forum message is the same as replying to any other email you receive. Depending on the format in which you receive email, the procedures differ slightly, as described below.

Non-Digest format

Reply to the message using your email program's normal methods. For example, if you use Eudora, click the Reply button or select Reply from the Message menu.

Digest format

Reply to individual messages in the digest by clicking the Reply To link at the end of the message. This link is a mailto link that lets you send a reply to V.H.H.Scott Forum for that message. Do not reply to the digest itself since that email cannot be posted to the conference.

Digest/ZIPped format

The zipped file contains a text version of all messages posted to the conference. The only way to respond to these messages is to cut and paste the correct Reply-To address into your mail program and craft a reply. If you want the archiving convenience of zipped files and the ability to respond to messages easily, we recommend you set up two accounts with two different formats.

V.H.H.Scott Forum knows which message you are responding to by the conference name and message number assigned to it. For example the Reply-To field of a message would show:

    Reply-To: "Places to Travel"

The Places to Travel conference uses travel as its mailing list name and V.H.H.Scott Forum assigned 983 to the current message. The domain name completes the routing back to correct V.H.H.Scott Forum site.

Once you send the reply, the message is posted to the appropriate conference as a response (that is, it is indented under the message to which you were responding). Each message posted to V.H.H.Scott Forum from a mailing list is identified by a postage icon in the top right corner

 

If you respond to a message or conference that has been deleted, your email will be returned (bounced) back to you as undeliverable. You should check the board directly to confirm that a message or conference has been deleted.

Posting a Topic Message

You can also post new topic messages to a V.H.H.Scott Forum conference through email. You may be reading a message and decide that you want to provide more information to the conference but that information doesn't directly respond to the current message. There are several ways to post a new topic, but the concept is the same.

The preceding section noted that the Reply-To field of a V.H.H.Scott Forum message contained a number. The number identifies a specific message. By replying to a message without including the number, you post a new topic. For example, to start a new topic in the Travel conference, the address in your email would be:

    travel@www.conferences.com

The subject of your email message becomes the new topic in the conference list.

If you are using non-digest format and your email program supports hyperlinks, starting a new topic is easy. Simply click the link in the email's footer for starting a new topic.

What am I Missing?

Participating in V.H.H.Scott Forum conferences through email enhances your ability to stay in touch with colleagues and friends no matter where you are. However, just as being in a meeting by conference call may mean you miss out on the body language hints or the cinnamon buns one of your colleagues brought, relying strictly on email for V.H.H.Scott Forum participation has its own limitations. Every once in a while it's smart to have a face-to-face meeting; every once in a while you should log into V.H.H.Scott Forum directly to take full advantage of its features.

The following V.H.H.Scott Forum features are not available through email:

Editing messages
Deleting messages
Sending or receiving file attachments
Subscribing or unsubscribing to conference mailing lists
Searching user databases
Searching message databases
Create a new user account
Editing your user profile
Marking messages read
Administrative, management, or moderator privileges

You get the idea. Email participation is a great feature of V.H.H.Scott Forum, but it is only one feature. To use V.H.H.Scott Forum to its fullest, we encourage you to open your browser and point it to the V.H.H.Scott Forum site.

Copyright 1998 O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

 

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