User Guide: New User Tips & Tricks

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

1. Basic Terms Used by Discourse (Nomenclature)

Here are some very basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind as you use Discourse or read this guide:

  • Topic :
    The collection of messages 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.Elsewhere this might be called a ‘thread’ but Discourse uses ‘topic’ since thread is used for linked elements that can go off in many different directions (and be confused with programming terms).

  • 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.

  • 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 and tags will link to.

  • Category :
    The primary means of organizing topics. Each topic is placed in exactly one category. Categories have permissions which can restrict which users can create, reply, and see its topics. You can also configure notification preferences per category or even mute them as explained below. Categories are a similar concept to a ‘forum’ on other sites.

  • Tag :
    A marker placed on a topic to describe it. While a topic can only have one category, it can have multiple tags. New tags can be created by some users.

  • User :
    Discourse sites may be private or public for anyone to read, but you will always be required to register 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

2. 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 tag : in the menu line, click the ‘all tags’ title and a list of all the tags are used will appear.
  • 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.

3. Navigation Tools

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

Reading

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

Topics above the light red line 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.

Navigation

For search, the menu, or your user page, use the icon buttons at the upper right .

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(If you have a physical keyboard, you can also press ? for a list of keyboard shortcuts.)

Replying

Press any Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. Continue reading (and even navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply; minimize the editor for more room. Drafts will automatically be saved as you write.

Quoting

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

Mentioning

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

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Emoji

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

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Oneboxes

To generate a summary for a link, paste it on a line by itself. To start a topic with a link, paste the link into the title field.

Formatting

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

This is bold.
This is bold.
This is bold.

For more formatting tips, try our 10 minute tutorial.

Actions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:

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Notifications

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 .

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Preferences

All topics less than two days old are considered new, and will show a new indicator.

Any topic you’ve actively participated in — by creating it, replying to it, or reading it for an extended period — will be automatically tracked on your behalf, and will show an unread post count indicator.

You can change your notification level for any topic via the notification control at the bottom, and right hand side, of each topic. (Notification level can also be set per category, look for the notification control on the upper right of each category page.)

To change any of these defaults, including the choice of a dark theme , visit your user preferences.

Hopefully that gets some of you up-to-speed to save you bothering me :joy: