How to use the CoinOpSpace forums

This post is very much targeted to address some of the questions about how Ning has structured the use of their forums. I hope that this answers some questions that I have been getting. To state again, the Ning forums are just a piece of the overall picture of creating a user community. The forums are not nearly as in depth as something like vBulletin, they are very stripped down to what is needed – reply, add images and some basic formatting. But some of the common quick links are available.

Simplified formatting – Power of ‘Latest Reply’

I am like everyone else, I hope that when I visit a forum thread that I have the option to go to the latest reply. This idea is really irrelevant when using RSS feeds, but regardless some leopards will never change their spots and adapt easier technology.

On Ning, and specifically on CoinOpSpace.com (Arcade Game Forum), you can view forum topics in two sections – On the homepage and under ‘forums’.

On the homepage, all of the topics are displayed with the latest replied to topic at the top. The homepage displays the 10 latest commented on topics. This can be changed in quantity up to a cumbersome 20 topics, and down to quite a few less.

To view the latest reply within that topic, all the user has to do is click on the Last Reply link underneath the topic synapsis to the right. If there is no Last Reply link, that means that the topic is brand new and there are no replies yet. Ning, like many forum softwares, lists the name of the forum where that topic came from right to the left of it to give a user a sense of the structure.

Forums view on the homepage

If you are within the ‘Forum’ tab you can also go to the latest reply, and this is to the latest topic. The current view displays the different forum categories that are available. This is important for the user so they get a scope of what is available to them for filing their post, and as of today this will continue to be the format for CoinOpSpace.com.

To see the latest reply on the latest topic, click on the Reply by XMember link. Once you choose an area to visit, just click on the same link inside on each specific forum category topic Reply by XMember.

Forums Main ViewForums Main View

Final notes

I certainly wouldn’t have chosen Ning if I didn’t feel like the necessary components to facilitate easy conversation were in place in the forum section. You won’t find emoticons, and a whole bunch of formatting buttons. The WYSIWYG for a forum post is very simple, bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, insert an image and insert a link.

One of my favorite things about the forum piece is that you can ‘feature’ discussions at the topic of the category views. I think that this is important if there is some ongoing topic that all members should see, regardless if they only visit one specific category or not.

The forum software won’t be for everyone, and I acknowledge that. But the forums are 1/10th of the big picture of the Ning platform, which is tighter integration of different kinds of user content. With so many features and a great search function, I hope that users can continue to adjust to a stripped down forum software.

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