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Forum New User Guide

If you’re new to the Kinfonet forum, here are a few quick tips and tricks to get you started:

Basic Terms

Here are some very basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind as you use the forum:

  • Topic: The collection of posts grouped together in a meaningful conversation, with a title, listed in a category, beginning with an Original Post, and including all replies in chronological order.

  • Original Post (or OP) : The first post in any topic. This is key since it determines the focus of the topic and is what the title will link to.

  • Post: Each element of a topic is referred to as a post. Each post has its own author and can be moved to a different topic if necessary, or even become the start of a new topic.

  • Category: The primary means of organizing topics. Each topic is placed in exactly one category. Categories are a similar concept to a ‘forum’ on other forum boards.

  • User : The forum categories may be private or public for anyone to read, but you will always be required to create an account in order to create posts and record any actions such as bookmarking, liking, tagging, and flagging. Most site activity, therefore, is based around registered Users

Browsing the Forum

Topic Lists

By default, the Discourse homepage will show all Latest conversations in the community but you can filter this list in a number of ways:

  • By category : in the menu line, click the ‘all categories’ title and a list of all the categories appears.
  • By level of activity : if you click on ‘Top’ the conversation topics will be listed in order of most activity (views and replies) for a specific time period. You can choose whether this is for all time, or select a specific period such as quarter, month, week or just today.
  • By what’s ‘New’ to you : by default , new topics are those created in the last 2 days that you have not opened yet to keep the list fresh and relevant. New topics show a small blue dot next to the topic title
    By what topics are “Unread” : by default , unread topics are those that you have previously opened and read for at least 4 minutes, and that have new posts (replies) submitted to them. Unread topics show a number in a blue circle indicating how many new posts are in the topic.

See who is participating

There are several ways to see who is involved in topics.


On the homepage you will see a selection of avatars (profile pictures) of:

  • the user who started the topic (always the first photo);
  • a selection of the most active participants;
  • and, who created the most recent post (usually the last photo).
  • in some cases, the first photo has a blue border or blue halo to indicate that the original poster is also the most recent poster
    The box at the bottom of the OP tells you; who created the post and when, gives a count of the replies and views in this topic to date, and a display of the avatars of the most frequent participants.

Navigation Tools

For Search, the Menu, or your User page, use the icon buttons at the upper right .


Reading Topics

Click a topic title and read down the list of replies in chronological order, following links or previewing replies and quotes as you go. Use your mouse to scroll the screen, or use the timeline scroll bar on the right which also shows you how far through the conversation you’ve read. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.

Jump back in

  • Selecting a topic title will take you to your last read post in the topic. To enter at the top ↑ or bottom ↓ instead, click the reply count or last reply date.


Topics above the light red line in the topic list are new or updated since your last visit. If you have read all the way to the end of a topic, its title will be light grey instead of black.


Back to Topic List

To get back to the topic list at any time, click the logo at the upper left or use the back ← button on your browser.


Taking Part in Conversations


Press any reply Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply.

Posts in the order they are published. However, there are still lots of ways to follow the context of conversations.

o reply to a specific post in a topic, clicking the grey Reply button at the end of each post and your reply is linked to that post.

  • If your reply is the next one published after the post you are replying to, this will appear next in chronological order
  • If yours is NOT next, then two things happen after your post is published:
    • Your post will include a new link in its header with an image to show what this is ‘in reply to’ - clicking this link displays that previous post for context next to your reply
    • The original post includes a count of replies at the bottom - clicking this link displays the content of the replies


Drafts will automatically be saved as you write. If you minimise the editor or navigate to a different topic, the editor might disappear. To open a draft, return to the topic you were replying to or click the highlighted bar at the bottom of your browser, and the editor will reappear with your draft.


To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. Repeat for multiple quotes.


To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type @ to begin selecting a username.



To use standard Emoji , just type : to match by name, or traditional smileys ;)


Embellished Links and Video Embeds

The editor can turn media URLs into simple HTML previews of the resource.

We currently have support for page, image, and video URLs for many popular sites.

It’s great if you want to input URLs and have them converted into rich previews for display.

A link to a YouTube video would be automatically converted into a video player.

For example, https://youtu.be/jfE12qIopGc , when placed on a line by itself will result in:

To generate a summary for a link, paste it on a line by itself.


Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown:

This is <b>bold</b>.
This is [b]bold[/b].
This is **bold**.

For more formatting tips, try this 10 minute tutorial.

Actions and Reactions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:


  • To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!
  • Grab a copy-pasteable link to any reply or topic via the link button.
  • Use the button to reveal more actions. Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page.


When someone is talking directly to you — by replying to you, quoting your post, mentioning your @username , or even linking to your post, a number will immediately appear over your profile picture at the top right. Select it to access your notifications .


Don’t worry about missing a reply – you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.

If you want, you can get notified about other things happening on the site as well, either at the category or topic level.

Topic notifications

You can change your notification level for any individual topic via the notification control at the bottom, and right hand side, of each topic.

Category notifications

Notification level can also be set per category. To change any of these defaults, see your user preferences, or visit the category page, and use the notification control above the topic list, on the right side.

Lastly, please be sure to exercise civilized community behavior at all times.

Welcome to the forum!

What about Splitting topics? is that just for admin?

The forum software has a built in trust system of sorts. Members are assigned trust levels based on an algorithm that automatically grants valued users - those who generously and thoughtfully give their time to the forum - more rights over time, so that they can help maintain and moderate the forum.

The ability to split topics is reserved for users at trust level 4 (Leader) who have been around a long time and have seen everything. They set a positive example for the community through their actions and posts. They have earned the highest level of community trust, such that they are almost moderators within the community already. Unlike the lower trust levels which occur automatically, users need to be manually promoted to trust level 4 by staff.

For those interested in finding out more, this system of natural progression for participants in community building is documented in the book Community Building on the Web.

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