After making you folks wait out in the cold for a week, we've finally finished all of our software upgrades. Here is a list of the new features that were added to forum with our software upgrade:
You may have immediately noticed the new sidebar in the forum. You can hide the sidebar by clicking the double arrow button near the top left corner. It will stay hidden until you call it back. You can also collapse individual boxes of the sidebar that you don't use by clicking the tiny up/down arrow at the top of each box. So, for example, you could collapse the Site Navigation section but keep the Tag Cloud open. These choice will persist if you hide the sidebar. Here's a rundown of the boxes:
- The Site Navigation box shows the sidebar from the main Giant in the Playground site. Yes, it's kinda ugly. It's a temporary fix right now; we'll be making improvements to the main site that should render it more graceful.
- The Twitter box shows my Twitter feed, @RichBurlew. You can scroll down to see older tweets. If you have a Twitter account, you can follow or tweet me right from this box.
- The Tag Cloud shows a representation of all the tags that have been applied to threads on the forum. You can find out more about tags later in this announcement.
- The Contact List lets you see which of your contacts are currently online. You can add members to your Contact List by visiting the Friends & Contacts link, found in the Community menu at the top of the forum. This feature is particularly useful for people playing in a play-by-post game.
We may still add more things to the sidebar, or just generally mess around with its functions in the next few weeks.
Thread prefixes are a new way to find and organize threads based on broad categories. Each forum has a set of prefixes associated with its topic, and you can choose to add a prefix to your thread in order to let people find it more easily. Here are some tips for using prefixes:
- Add a prefix to a new thread by selecting one from the drop-down menu that appears above the field where you type in the thread's title. The default option is (no prefix).
- In order to add a prefix to an existing thread, simply edit the first post.
- Especially in the Gaming boards, we'd prefer that you use the prefixes in place of including abbreviations like [3.5] or [Pathfinder] to your thread title. Not only is it redundant for a thread to have both a prefix and include the same information in the title, but prefixes allow users to special means of sorting and filtering the board's content.
- The moderating staff has gone through and put prefixes on many recent threads in all boards, but you're free to go and add prefixes to older threads—even those older than the Thread Necromancy cut-off of 45 days—as long as you don't bump those threads needlessly at the same time. (EDIT: Whoops, it looks like users only have a 56-day window to add a prefix.)
- If you have an old thread that still sees use but is locked (say, a discussion thread that reached the 50-page mark and was restarted, or a piece of homebrew design) and thus you can't edit the first post, or is older than 56 days, you can request that a moderator add a prefix on this thread.
- Prefixes are not strictly required, though moderators might add prefixes to your thread if an obvious one suggests itself and you haven't used it.
- If you have a situation that you feel would benefit from a prefix that doesn't exist, try using a tag instead.
- Prefixes may change (especially color) over the next few weeks as we see what gets used and what doesn't.
Thread tags are a different way to mark your threads as relating to a given subtopic. Unlike prefixes, they are completely user-driven, meaning you can invent whatever tag you want for your thread. Here are some more guidelines:
- You can add a tag to any thread you start. When making a new thread, a tag field appears below the post icons. You can enter up to 5 tags. Just type whatever tags you think are appropriate and separate them with a comma.
- The tags for each thread are displayed at the bottom of the page when you are reading the thread.
- You can add or change tags to an existing thread that you started at any time by scrolling to the bottom of the thread and clicking the Add/Edit Tags button on the right side of the screen.
- You can look at what tags are most popular in the forum's Tag Cloud, which can be found in the new forum sidebar. Clicking a tag there will give you a list of all threads with that tag. You can get the same results by searching for tags with the Advanced Search function.
- Tags can be used to link related threads in a project together, such as a set of related homebrew threads, or all the threads for a given play-by-post game.
- A single tag can have multiple words, such as monster in the darkness or prestige class.
- Tags are always lowercase, even if you type them in with capital letters.
- Tags must be at least 3 characters long and no longer than 25 characters.
- Check to see if a tag similar to the ones you want to add exists already and use the same spelling if it does. It will increase the chances that your thread is found if a user is searching by tag.
- Tags still need to comport with the Rules of Posting, which means no profanity, identity slurs, hate speech, or flaming are allowed in the tags. Anyone putting such things in a tag will get the same Warning/Infraction they would have if it was included in a post.
- Moderators may add or change tags to your thread at any point in order to make it easier to find, and can add additional tags above and beyond the standard five.
- The moderation staff has added some tags to recent threads to give you an idea of how this all works, but feel free to add more as you see fit.
- Adding tags does not constitute Thread Necromancy, so you may add tags to older threads (as long as you don't also bump them).
The forum now features a new mobile-friendly layout option that's designed for use on a smartphone or tablet
- In order to switch to the mobile theme, go to the bottom left corner of any page and find the drop-down menu in the brown bar that says "Playground Sand." That's the default theme for viewing on a desktop/laptop. Select "Playground Sand Mobile" from that menu to switch to the mobile option.
- To switch back from mobile to the default theme, go to the bottom of any page and click the Full Site link in the middle of the page.
- Custom avatars are disabled in the mobile theme, so every poster will display as the default avatar they've chosen (even if they use a custom avatar on the default theme). Further, the default avatars scale to the new dimensions…poorly. We will be adding native-sized versions of the default avatars that look better in the next few weeks.
- Tables in the mobile theme may be too wide for the display. On most mobile browsers, you can horizontally scroll each table individually.
- Some features of the message board will not work, will not work properly, or will be just plain ugly. We will continue to make improvements in the coming weeks.
We've been mentioning it for a few weeks, but if you didn't already know, the TABLE code has changed. If you have a thread with a table in it, you'll have to manually update that table in order to get it to look like a table again. You can find out more information in this thread.
Back after a few years, the forums once again has a Search function, located in the upper right corner of the forum. You can search by tags, too.
There are two new forums for posting:
- Mad Science and Grumpy Technology: A forum for posting about physics, math, chemistry, biology, or questions about why your iPhone won't work. Anything related to science or technology now goes here.
- D&D 5e/Next: Since it's coming out in a few months, we've added a forum for discussion of the upcoming Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. This forum is a subforum of the general Roleplaying Games board.
There are probably some other minor function changes here and there that I'm forgetting, but those are the most important things.