HTML Logo by World Wide Web Consortium (www.w3.org). Click to learn more about our commitment to accessibility and standards.

Moving forward with Composr

ocPortal has been relaunched as Composr CMS, which is now in beta. ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.

Head over to compo.sr for our new site, and to our migration roadmap. Existing ocPortal member accounts have been mirrored.


ocPortal Tutorial: Keeping on track of busy forums

Written by Philip Withnall, ocProducts
Once you've got a community set up and running, and it has attracted lots of members, it can get quite hard to keep up with all the discussion on your forums. However, OCF provides several methods to assist you in keeping up with the activity. (This tutorial only applies to websites using OCF ).


Virtual forums

Virtual forums are basically special types of forum that list topics in a distinctive and hard-coded way. An example of this would be the 'Private Topics' virtual forum, which instead of listing normal topics, lists all the Private Topics the current member has access to.

Posts since last visit

Thumbnail: The link to see posts since your last forum visit

The link to see posts since your last forum visit

Thumbnail: A sample of the interface

A sample of the interface

The 'posts since last visit' virtual forum displays all the posts that were made since you last visited the site. The virtual forum displays the posts as a list of links to the respective topics, with all the normal trimmings, such as topic icon, jump to first unread link, previews, etc. Clicking on one of the listed links would take you straight to the first new post in the specified topic.

The last-visit detection system works using session cookies. If the last-visit cookie is not present then ocPortal knows that you are starting a new visit, and loads in a new copy of the cookie using the last-active time stored in the database against your account.
This has three ramifications:
  • Session cookies must be enabled for it to work (almost certainly they will be, as cookie restrictions rarely work upon the short-term session cookies).
  • If you switch around between accounts the reports will not be accurate, as your existing last-visit session cookie will continue to persist.
  • If you do not shut down your browser window then this will be considered an on-going visit (closing a tab is not sufficient to make the web browser delete session cookies for a site).

Topics with unread posts

Thumbnail: The link to see topics with unread posts

The link to see topics with unread posts

Thumbnail: A sample of the interface

A sample of the interface

The 'topics with unread posts' virtual forum displays any topics on the forum that have unread posts – posts that you have not viewed.  Again, the virtual forum displays the posts as a list of links to the respective topics, with all the normal trimmings, such as topic icon, jump to first unread link, previews, etc. Clicking on one of the listed links would take you straight to the first unread post in the specified topic.

Read status

Thumbnail: How the read/unread status of a topic works

How the read/unread status of a topic works

A topic can either be 'read', or 'unread'. If a topic is unread, it is shown in bold in the topic listing, and has a little triangle icon next to it (the 'jump to first unread' link).

Marking as unread

Thumbnail: The button to mark a topic as unread

The button to mark a topic as unread

Marking as unread is a convenient way to tell yourself to come back to a topic without any hassle. When you open up a topic, it is automatically marked as 'read'. However, you may want to make the topic appear as unread again, perhaps for the aforementioned reason. To do this, you need to click the "mark 'unread'" button.

This function is available for forums as well as topics. If you use it on a forum then it is the same as doing it on every unread topic within that forum, and any sub-forums thereof.

Marking as read

Thumbnail: The button to mark a topic as read

The button to mark a topic as read

Marking as read is a function only available for forums, to save you the hassle of going through each topic and reading them when you might not want to, or they might not be relevant. Simply go to the forum view of the forum you want to mark as read (or any of its parents, such as the home forum), and click the "mark 'read'" button.

This function is not available for individual topics, as to reach the button, you would be marking the topic as read anyway.

Notifications

Thumbnail: The button to get notifications for a forum

The button to get notifications for a forum

Thumbnail: Options for getting notifications for a topic in your member profile

Options for getting notifications for a topic in your member profile

Notifications (previously called 'tracking' – note that the screenshots in this tutorial are out-dated) allows you to mark topics for notification; when a new reply is posted, you will be notified of its presence (e.g. by e-mail). Also a notification can be sent if a topic is moved (as long as there is activity within the last two weeks). There is an automatic notifications option that each member may set in his/her profile (options for automatically enabling topics the member posts in for notifications).

As well as automatic notifications, you can enable notifications for topics manually, by clicking the "monitor" button in the topic view.
Thumbnail: The button to enable notifications for a topic

The button to enable notifications for a topic


You can also mark whole forums for notifications, by clicking the "monitor" button in the forum view. Note that if you enable notifications in a forum it does not automatically enable for sub-forums of that forum.

In fact, since ocPortal 8, you can set notifications for virtually any category of content. This can all be configured within your member settings.

Disabling notifications

Thumbnail: The button to disable notifications for a forum

The button to disable notifications for a forum

Thumbnail: The button to disable notifications for a topic

The button to disable notifications for a topic

After enabling notifications topics and forums, you can easily disable it again, using the obvious buttons.

Concepts

Virtual forum
A special, separate forum view that lists special types of topic, such as Private Topics.
Notifications
By enabling notifications, you get notifications when there is new content. Also known as subscribing or tracking in some forum systems.
Forum view
The screen where you view a forum on. From it you see a list of the topics in the forum you are in any any subforums.
Topic view
The screen where you view a topic on. From it you can read the posts in the topic.

See also