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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 ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.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: Correspondence between members

Written by Philip Withnall, ocProducts
At times you'll want to know how to talk to your members privately (i.e. not on the public forum). This tutorial only applies to websites using OCF – if you're running another forum system, you'll have to consult its documentation with reference to "private/personal messaging". This tutorial covers Private Topics and inline personal posts.


Private Topics

Thumbnail: The link to start a new Private Topic

The link to start a new Private Topic

Thumbnail: Choosing what kind of whisper to use

Choosing what kind of whisper to use

Private Topics are very similar in concept to "private/personal messaging" – a common feature among other forum systems. However, when designing OCF, we took the concept one step further, and integrated private messaging with the forum system in a new way. Private messaging systems are usually segregated from the main forum system; different layout, posting mechanisms, etc. With OCF, Private Topics are just that: topics. They are simply topics that are marked as between two users, and are shown in a special "Private Topics" virtual forum.

Since version 4.0 Private Topics may involve more than 2 people – a topic is initially between 2 members but other members may be invited.

Inline personal posts (whispers)

Thumbnail: Typing in a personal post

Typing in a personal post

Thumbnail: A personal post as displayed

A personal post as displayed

Another innovation we have developed for OCF is that of inline personal posts (henceforth known as "whispers" for brevity's sake). Whispers allow forum-goers to privately reply within a public forum topic.

The whispers are like regular posts but marked as only viewable by the sender and receiver, and nobody else (apart from staff).

Using Private Topics

Starting a Private Topic

Starting a Private Topic is rather easy. There are 3 ways to do it:
  1. Simply go to the member page of the person you would like to converse with, and click on the "Start Private Topic" link in the "Actions" box at the bottom of the page [Example ].
  2. Alternatively, you could click on the "Whisper" button on the bottom of a forum post by the person with whom you would like to converse; then click on the "Quote post to a new Private Topic with this member" option [Example ].
  3. It is also possible to start a Private Topic with any member without having to find their exact username or member profile. All you need to do now is to visit your own Account, and select to start a Private Topic; you will then be able to type in the username that you wish to send a message to and ocPortal will search for the username for you.

All 3 methods take you to a standard "new topic" page. Fill out all the fields, and hit "Add topic" to create the Private Topic with your chosen conversant [Example and Example ]. Once your input has been processed, you will be redirected to the newly-created Private Topic [Example ]

The new Private Topic will have also appeared in your Private Topics list, so you can easily access it. To get to your Private Topics list, just click on the "Private Topics" link in either the top bar, or the side menu in OCF [Example ]. The page lists all the Private Topics you have ever started, or been a participant in, in much the same way as a normal forum [Example ].

Thumbnail: The Private Topics link

The Private Topics link

Thumbnail: Creating a Private Topic (1)

Creating a Private Topic (1)

Thumbnail: Our new Private Topic

Our new Private Topic

Thumbnail: Creating a Private Topic (2)

Creating a Private Topic (2)

Private Topic notifications

Thumbnail: An e-mail notification of a new Private Topic

An e-mail notification of a new Private Topic

Thumbnail: Notification of a new personal message

Notification of a new personal message

When a new post is added by another conversant in a Private Topic that you are part of, you will be notified by the system of its presence. If your options allow it, you will be e-mailed about the new post [Example ], and you will always be notified by a little message at the top of the forums [Example ]. The notification message at the top of the forums will disappear once you've viewed the Private Topic, or replied to it.

Replying to a Private Topic

Thumbnail: Our Private Topic listed on the Private Topics page

Our Private Topic listed on the Private Topics page

When you receive notification about a new post in one of your Private Topics, you'll probably want to reply. You can either click the "Reply" link in the notification message at the top of the forums, which will take you straight to the reply page, or you can go to the topic (via your Private Topics virtual forum), and reply to the message just like you would in a normal topic: with the quick reply box, or the reply button [Example ].

Deleting Private Topics

Most members do not have permission to delete a Private Topic – this is because unlike "personal/private messages" in some software, a Private Topic is shared.
However, there is an alternative mechanism that can be used to achieve the same effect. The two primary members involved in a Private Topic may categorise the topic for their own purposes, and there is a 'Trash' category that exists by default.

To 'trash' a topic:
  • click its checkbox (tickbox) in the main "Private Topics" screen;
  • scroll down and select "Categorise Private Topics" from the "Topic/poll actions" dropdown list of actions;
  • click the Proceed button directly adjacent to the dropdown list;
  • click 'Trash' in the 'Category' field;
  • click 'Categorise Private Topics'.

If you wish to access the topic again, you can do so from under the "Trash" category shown at the top of the main "Private Topics" screen.

Administrating Private Topics

Super administrators may access the Private Topics of any member from that member's Account .
As Private Topics behave in a similar fashion to normal topics, they are moderated and administrated in the same way. There are a set of global privileges relating to Private Topics, that define who may moderate/administrate them. Please see the "Basic forum moderation" tutorial for information on forum moderation.

Using whispers

Thumbnail: Replying to a Private Topic

Replying to a Private Topic

Thumbnail: The button to whisper to a poster

The button to whisper to a poster

To post a whisper, click the "Whisper" link at the bottom of a forum post you would like to quote to the respective member. Then select the "In-topic personal post to this member" option [Example ].

Fill out the posting form as you would for a normal post, and submit it. You will be redirected to the correct topic, and see your whisper highlighted in the topic view.

When somebody sends you a whisper, you would be notified on receipt just as you would be notified of a new post in a Private Topic.


Administrating whispers

As inline personal posts are just enhanced posts, they are moderated and administrated in the same way as posts. Please see the "Basic forum moderation" tutorial for information on forum moderation.

Off-forum contact

There is also a "contact member" addon. This allows you to e-mail a member, without the message being stored on the website. It is mainly useful to allow guests to contact a member without joining. Most websites will be likely to want to remove it, for reasons of simplicity.

Concepts

Private Topics
Topics visible only to selected conversants, available only from each conversant's "Private Topics" virtual forum.
Whispering
In-topic posts only visible to the sender, and one specific recipient.

See also