About forums, threads and messages
A forum is an online discussion site. It's sometimes also called a 'bulletin board' or 'board'. It may contain several categories, consisting of forums, threads and individual messages.
How is all this structured?
The forum as a whole contains various categories (broad subject areas), which themselves contain forums (more specific subject areas) which contain threads (conversations on a particular topic) which are made up of individual messages (where a user writes something).
Threads are also sometimes called 'discussions'.
Messages are 'posted' to the forums and are sometimes called 'posts'.
When you click on a forum's name, you are taken to the list of threads it contains. A thread is a conversation between members. Each thread starts out as a single message and grows as replies are added by different members.
To start a new thread simply click on the 'Post New Thread' button towards the top-right of the page (if there is no such button, it means you do not have permission to post a new thread).
Threads can be ordered in many different ways. The default is to have the thread with the most recent activity at the top. But you can easily change this ordering, for example to have the thread with the most messages at the top, or the most views. Simply click on the appropriate column heading at the top of the list of threads. You can also reverse the sorting order by clicking the heading again. (Note that 'sticky' threads will always be at the top no matter how you change the viewing options).
When there are more threads to display than will fit on a single page, you may see the 'Page' navigator top-left of the list of threads, which contains page numbers. This indicates that the list of threads has been split over two or more pages. This method of splitting lists of items over many pages is used throughout the forum. If there are lots of pages, you can click a small arrow to change the displayed page numbers to find the page you want.
What are sticky threads?
'Sticky' threads are created by forum staff, and remain 'stuck' to the top of the listing, even if they haven't had any messages recently. Their purpose is to keep important information visible and accessible at all times.
How do I read a thread?
To read a thread, click on its title. Each message in a thread is created by a member. You'll see some brief information about the member who created the thread to the left of the first message.
How to I reply to a thread?
To post a reply to an existing thread, type your reply in the box at the bottom of the list of messages and click on the 'Post Reply' button. If the 'Post Reply' button does not appear, it could mean that you are not logged in as a member, or that you do not have permission to reply, or that the thread has been closed to new replies.
The 'More Options' button gives you more options when replying to a thread.
Is there a faster way to get to forums?
If you know which forum you want to go to, you can use the 'Forum Jump' control, which appears to the right of the breadcrumb.
How do I find out more about members?
To view information about a particular member, click on the user name. This will take you to their public profile page.
The image below shows the anatomy of a typical thread.