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SFN Tutorial


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Welcome to SFN! In order to help people who are unfamiliar with internet forums, I have put together a small tutorial to expedite the development of the posting abilities of the forum as a whole especially the new members.


SFN is a great place to talk about various subjects with an amazing community. We have a forum for just about anything related to science and we even have a forum to talk about non-science related things. Most of the forums are open to all users. However, some forums do have restrictions in order to minimize issues inherent in boards with such forums. Politics, Philosophy, Ethics, and Religion are all restricted to posters with a minimum of 30 posts and a membership time of a month.


Now, before you go start posting, I ask that you read our rules that you agreed to follow by signing up for the forum. While the rules are mandatory, we also have a STRONGLY encouraged set of etiquette guidelines. If you have any issues or any questions about any of the rules or guidelines you can always contact a moderator or administrator.


Now that you've read the rules and the etiquette guidelines, you've probably already found a thread to which you wish to reply. Don't get ahead of yourself just yet-we have some features to help you be understood by the other posters.


The forum uses a system called BBCode which is similar to Hypertext Markup Language (or HTML). It uses what we call "tags" to modify the text of a post. To modify the text, you must have the text you desire to be modified between the "open tag" and the "close tag". The difference between open tags and close tags visually is that the close tags start with a /, like this: [tag]Text inside the tags[/tag].


There are various tags that are used, such as the [/noparse] tags used to make text bolded, the tags which italicize text, the tags which underline text, the [noparse] tags which I used to that you can see the other tags, and the

tags which place text in a quote box so that readers can more easily distinguish quotes from the main text of a post:


This is something I quoted from another member


The quote tags are a bit more complicated than most of the other tags in that they have more than one part.

quoted text
renders as:


quoted text


You can see that the second part of the quote tags is what designates which user is being quoted. Notice that you only put the second part of the quote tag in the opening tag -- there's no need to end your quote with [/quote name=billy] when you already opened it with the name. Be sure to put the person's name in quotes.


If you use the quote button in the bottom right-hand corner of a post, the name and date are inserted for you. We also have a mulitquote feature. If you click the MultiQuote button on the bottom right-hand corner of several posts and then click the Add Reply button, the forum software will automatically quote those posts for you when you compose your reply.


One more useful tag is the link tag. This renders as This.


We also have a handy list system:

There are two types of lists that the forum uses. We have bulleted lists.

  • point one
  • point two


renders as

  • point one
  • point two


We also have the numbered list.



  1. point one
  2. point two



renders as

  1. point one
  2. point two


The tags I just went over as well as a few others are made into tools that you can use in both the Fast Reply and the Advanced Reply modes should you not wish to type out the tags manually.


If you need to play around with formatting to learn how it works, feel free to post in the Sandbox.


We also have math tags to display complex mathematical equations, but there is already a tutorial for that.


These tags, while not all exclusive of the post features SFN has, are the most common ones and should help you be better understood. Better understanding means better communication. Have fun. I hope to see you post soon.

Edited by Cap'n Refsmmat
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Ok, now we've replied to a post. Congratulations! That's a good step forward. What do we do now? Well, let's make our own thread topic!


Not so fast; let's go up and use the search function to see if our topic has already come up. Now that we've done a search and not found a recent thread just like the one we want to make, we are going to make our first thread! We need to figure out first where to post the thread. By clicking on the logo for the site, you will be taken to the list of forums. Let's look at that list and figure out which forum is most relevant to our topic. Click on that forum link. Now click the "Start New Topic" button.


The Etiquette Guidelines have some things to keep in mind.


Give Sources

If you are asking a question or making a point, give references and links so users can see what you are talking about. If they have context, they can better understand you.


Give Details

When you're asking a question, give plenty of details. Don't just say "my computer crashed, what do I do?" Give use details about what you're asking that will help us answer the question well.


Use a Descriptive Title

When you title your thread, give it a good title that will catch users' eyes and give them an idea of what it is about.

Bad title:


Good title:

"Computer virus. Help!"


Allow Comment

If you're posting an idea, be receptive to comments. If someone criticizes you, don't get mad at them. Take the comment well and, if necessary, reply to them to defend yourself (without being mean or nasty).



We will not do it for you. If you have someone else do it for you, you're not learning anything, and it's not fair that a lazy person with an Internet connection gets a better mark than someone who put the effort in himself.

Disguising your homework as a curiosity-based question doesn't work. We will probably figure it out, and we don't like people trying to fool us into doing their work.

Of course, we'd be glad to help you to finish your homework. Just not do it entirely.


Einstein is Wrong!

If you're going to try to disprove a major theory, or at least propose something that most people would never believe (there are a lot of sceptics on this forum), try to provide large amounts of evidence. Just because it "makes sense" doesn't mean it has to be right--much of science doesn't "make sense" to some people, but it has proved accurate.

Now that we've made a thread, we wait for replies and then reply to them creating a conversation. Good Job.

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The forums are a bit slow. It'd be awfully nice if we had a way to communicate in realtime. Luckily, we have a solution for that problem. It's called IRC (Internet Relay Chat); it's a nerdier version of a chat room. You can access it through our site's java plugin via the Chat tab at the top of the page or this link. The program with which you chat is called a client. If you're familiar with IRC and have a real client (or want to use a different web client such as mibbit), you can manually enter the chat information. The server is blackcobalt.net and the channel (like a 'room') is #sfn. We also have a more relaxed channel that isn't really science related at all and it is #otw on the same server.


Neither #sfn nor #otw are for instant homework help. In fact, most of the time the people in the channel are idle (they have their computers on and the client running, but they are either away or not actively using the chat).


At the side of the chat window, you will see a list of names. Different clients have different ways of marking the differences in levels of power. However, all of the clients I know of do list them hierarchally with the people with no power on the bottom and the people with all the power on the top. The people on the top are the channel operators and are the equivalent of moderators on the forum, although the operators on the channel are not necessarily moderators in the forum. Below that, we have the people with what is called voice. That just means that they can talk if the channel is set to a moderated mode (which it almost never is). #otw uses another class of operator which is the halfop; they are like the channel operators, but their powers are more limited.


IRC has a few features (none of which are to be abused):


  • nickname
    To change your name on the chat, type '/nick <whatever you want your name to be>' without quotes and replacing <whatever you want your name to be> with whatever you want your name to be.
  • register
    You can register your nickname for later use. This will also allow you to be placed on lists like the vop list so that whenever you identify (we'll get to that), the server will automatically give you the power associated with that list. To register your nickname, type '/ns register <password> <e-mail address>' without quotes, replacing <password> with your desired password, and <e-mail address> with a valid e-mail address.
  • identify
    Once you have registered, you can identify yourself (which is basically logging in) and automatically receive any powers you are entitled. To identify yourself, type '/ns identify <password>' without quotes and replacing <password> with your password.
  • action
    To do an action on chat, type '/me <whatever action you want to do>' without quotes and replacing <whatever action you want to do> with whatever action you want to do. The actions are just a fun little thing that doesn't really do anything but change the way text is formatted. There isn't a list of actions; you can type whatever you want.
    Instead of having
    <ydoaPs> is rolling on the floor laughing.
    I could use the action feature to make it render as
    *ydoaPs is rolling on the floor laughing.


Those are most of the features you'll need to use. Have fun and remember nonscience stuff goes in #otw. As fair warning, there is sometimes [acr=Not Safe For Work]NSFW[/acr] material posted in #otw.


If you happen to see anything particularly memorable in chat, we have an IRC quote thread.

Edited by ydoaPs
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