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Forum Use

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Let's assume you arrived here by following a link to http://forum.spamcop.net/forums/

The first Forum section - Announcements - should be at least glanced at for any new items added. It may be something critical, it may be something of general interest, it may answer the question of the moment ....

The other Forum sections are broken out by subject matter. As the need arises, more sections may be added. Any Forum having new content since the last time you visited will be indicated by the icon to the left of the Forum name showing as dark blue (assumption is that you are allowing cookies - see this item under Help)

What we'd like to see is that you would select the Forum section most appropriate to your query and/or problem. Clicking on the Forum Title will place you within that Forum, where you will see a listing of the most recent postings from other users. Posting placement is time-sensitive, meaning that the last posted item in any Topic will then move that Topic to the top of this displayed list. (note that as of the time of my typing this in, this Forum is over a year old, and postings from those early days are still present .. but most of these Forum sections default to only displaying the last 30 days of Topics/Discussions. You can read these older posts by changing the values in the drop down boxes seen below the displayed Topic list (at the bottom of the screen)

Once within the appropriate Forum, please take the time to see if your subject matter has already been brought up. If so, please click on that Topic Title and read that discussion to see where the issue stands. If not, then you'd want to "Start a New Topic" and post your query, by clicking on the "New Topic" button.

1. Please use a Subject line that offers a clue as to what your query is about (please see the above ... what we are looking for is that the next person in with the same issue will recognize that the same issue has been brought up in your "new Topic")

2. Post your question, describe your problem. In general, for someone on the other side of the screen to try to answer, a number of things might need to be known. In general;

    a. things like the type of computer/Operating System you are using
    b. software applications involved, Version numbers might be important
    c. IP addresses involved, Domain names might be important
    d. connection mode, dial-up modem or high-speed cable/DSL might be important
    e. steps taken thus far to troubleshoot/isolate the problem/issue
    f. did it ever work, did it once work and doesn't today
    g. is the computer behind a firewall/router/network
    h. is it "your" computer or a Company controlled item
    i. Anti-virus/spyware/pop-up blocking/3rd-party toolbars in use might be important
    j. Do not post a copy of your spam. If reference is needed, please provide a Tracking URL provided by the SpamCop parsing and Reporting Tool. (If needed, see the Glossary, provided as a link from the SpamCop FAQ - links provided at the top of the page and as a Pinned item in each Forum section.)

This list could go on forever, of course ... but what's stated here is that a posting that simply says "it's broke" doesn't contain enough data for anyone "here" to make a reasonable guess at where to even start suggesting solutions.

3. You have the option to "preview" the post to see what it looks like or simply "Add Reply" to have it appear to the world.

4. While waiting for someone to respond to your query, you may want to read other on-going discussions. There may be problems you've not seen yet, there may be words there that will explain things that might deal with other issues/problems elsewhere, and the possibly best scenario, you might have the answer to someone else's problem and can make their day a bit brighter. While there are folks on this thing pretty much 24/7, not everyone has the knowldge needed to answer/resolve your situation. The primary mode of support here is peer-to-peer, meaning users helping other users. (please remember this at all times!) Some users are actually owner/admin folks that run their ISP, some users are brand new to this whole computer/internet thing, but 99.9% of all folks here are donating their time, knowledge, and effort on a voluntary basis. (please remember this also!)

5. Upon finding an existing Topic/Discussion that doesn't yet resolve your issue, perhaps you have additional data, or someone has responded in your "New Topic" .. you need to decide how to "Reply" to/ that Topic.

    a. Add Reply - opens up a box for you to type into. When that post is added, it is placed as the next post in that Discussion (and this Topic then gets moved to the top of the Topic display list, as it has the most recent posting.)
    b. "Reply - opens up a box for you to type into, but it also includes the contents of the poster that created the posting you are replying to as a "quoted" section. This is usually not needed if you are only typing a small response, especially if your reply is going to be the very next entry in that discussion. IF you are replying to post #7 in a 50-post discussion, you should use the Reply button to quote the item you are actually responding to .. but please, edit the quoted section down to just that which you are responding to. Quoting 10 pounds of text but only adding a "me too" at the bottom of that just makes one look silly.
    c. +/- Quote - allows one to select multiple posts to respond to in a single "reply" ... editing out of unneeded data is a must if using this button.
    d. Fast Reply - a feature that enables users to quickly post in a topic without loading the usual Add Reply page. The posting box is minimal with no emoticons or tag buttons.
    e. Posts are currently limited to 1k in size. HTML is not enabled. Graphics are not allowed. (If needed, host them somewhere else and provide a URL, NOT an img tag, but be aware that some/many members will not view them under any circumstance - following unknown links is unsafe practice and your links are "unknown").
    f. 'Spamvertized' and suspect exploit URLs should never be posted as live (clickable) links - mung them if you want to show them for discussion. A neat way to do that is to make the // part of the address italic (using formatting toolbar or BBCode tags), which allows the text to be copied and pasted straight into the browser URL window of any reader brave enough to do so but prevents any SEO, web bug or malicious back-links from the forum.

[edit] to expand e. above and to add f.

Edited by Farelf

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<snip>e. Posts are currently limited to 1k in size. HTML is not enabled. Graphics are not allowed. (If needed, host them somewhere and provide a URL, NOT an img tag.)
...Might it be appropriate to add that the poster should not assume that readers will visit their link to see the image (since clicking on unsolicited links from someone you don't know is, generally, not a good idea)?

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...Might it be appropriate to add that the poster should not assume that readers will visit their link to see the image ...
Excellent point. thanks, done.

Of course even when images ARE posted, contrary to advice, the grizzled old veterans amongst us are not going to see them anyway, having browser settings to block "external pictures". All that is shown to them is a blue, unlinked alternate text "PBL image" generated by the forum software (I think that's the wording) and, in the case of single pixel images, they will be the ONLY ones aware it has been posted. Web bugs might be old hat, going back to the very dawn of HTML, but BECAUSE of that they are evidently still occasionally used as a sneaky "just when you thought it was safe ..." variation in the hacker tool kit.

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