Thanks for visiting The STEP Forums, and welcome!
If after reading these guidelines and the topics listed in the Help category you need to get in touch with a staff member, please send a message to one of the Moderators listed on the staff members page.
Here are some very basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind as you use the forum 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 the forum 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 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.
- User: This forum is for STEP members but is available for anyone to read, you will always be required to login in order to create posts and record any actions such as bookmarking, liking, and flagging. Most site activity, therefore, is based around registered Users
For more details see the Interface Nomenclature Guide.
By default, the TDF homepage will show all Latest conversations in the forum 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 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.
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.
For Search, the Menu, or your User page, use the icon buttons at the upper right.
As new replies or new topics arrive, they will appear automatically – there’s no need to refresh the page.
Click a topic title and read down the list of replies in chronological order, following links or previewing replies and quotes as you go. Use your mouse to scroll the screen, or use the timeline scroll bar on the right which also shows you how far through the conversation you’ve read. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.
Selecting a topic title will take you to your last read post in the topic. To enter at the top ↑ or bottom ↓ instead, click the reply count or last reply date.
Topics above the light red line on a list are new or updated since your last visit. If you have read all the way to the end of a topic, the title will be light grey instead of black.
Sometimes conversations are clearer if topics are split, where posts are moved to a more appropriate topic, or two related topics are merged. If a post is moved, a link will appear that will allow readers to jump to that comment wherever it has been moved to, and the person who posted it will also be notified.
At the end of the OP you will also see lists of related topics that link to the one you are reading
Press any Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply.
All posts are shown in the order they are published. It does not make you chase down multiple threaded paths. However, it still gives you lots of ways to follow the context of conversations.
To reply to a specific post in a topic, clicking the grey Reply button at the end of each post and your reply is linked to that post.
If your reply is the next one published after the post you are replying to, this will appear next in chronological order
If yours is NOT next, then two things happen after your post is published:
- Your post will include a new link in its header with an image to show what this is ‘in reply to’ - clicking this link displays that previous post for context next to your reply
- The original post includes a count of replies at the bottom - clicking this link displays the content of the replies
Drafts will automatically be saved as you write. If you minimise the editor or navigate to a different topic, the editor might disappear. To open a draft, return to the topic you were replying to or click the highlighted bar at the bottom of your browser, and the editor will reappear with your draft.
To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. There is no need to quote a whole message: it helps to be specific. Repeat this for multiple quotes even from different posts and different users. The quoted text will point to their original source.
To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type
@ to begin selecting a username. This search will also search the name fields in case you don’t know a particular username.
To use Emoji, press the emoji button in the editor or just type
: to match by name, or traditional smileys
Alternatively, click on
more to see a complete list of emoji to select from.
Read details about this feature in: Create rich link previews with Onebox - users - Discourse Meta
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.
Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown:
This is <b>bold</b>. This is [b]bold[/b]. This is **bold**.
For more formatting tips, try the 10 minute tutorial.
There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:
- To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!
- Grab a copy-pasteable (permalink) link to any reply or topic via the link button.
- Use the … button to reveal more actions: Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Edit to edit your post, if possible. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page:
Once logged into the site, click the grey “+ New Topic” button displayed on the right of https://forum.step.org/. Click on the button, enter a topic title (replacing the placeholder text “What is this discussion about in one brief sentence”), select the relevant category from the dropdown (Contentious Trusts & Estates, Latin America Forum, North America Forum or Branch Student Liaison Officer) and enter your topic message (replacing the “Type here” placeholder text), then click the blue “+ Create Topic” button (located below the message field).
- Posting via the website gives you a greater level of control over formatting and what’s included in the post (for instance, when posting via email the email signature is sometimes automatically included in the post.)
Please check the following before posting via email:
Make sure you post using the email address that you have registered to your account otherwise the post can’t be validated and wont get through.
Posting via the website gives you a greater level of control over formatting and what’s included in the post (for instance, when posting via email the email signature is sometimes automatically included in the post.)
To post a new topic via email to a category use the relevant category email address listed below.
- Contentious Trusts & Estates: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Latin America: email@example.com
- North America: firstname.lastname@example.org
When someone replies to you, quotes your post, or mentions your
@username, a number will immediately appear at the top right of the page. Use it to access your notifications.
Don’t worry about missing a reply – you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.
You are not automatically opted-in to receiving email alerts for the Forums upon registering. Thus to manage your preferences and opt-in to receiving alerts you need to go to:
- Forum homepage
- Click on the letter in the top right of the screen (the letter starts with the first letter of your email address/name)
- Then click on the setting cog in the menu:
-This will then take you to the ‘Preferences’ menu (or url shortcut: The STEP Forums)
-Then click on the sidebar menu entitled ‘Emails’
- From here scroll down to the bottom
If ‘Enable mailing list mode’ is unticked, then you won’t receive email alerts from the Forum
Tick it to receive alerts and select from two options:
Then click ‘Save changes’
All topics less than two days old are considered new.
Any topic you’ve actively participated in (by creating, replying, or reading for an extended period) will be automatically tracked.
You will see the blue new and unread number indicators next to these topics:
You can change your notifications for any topic via the notification control at the bottom of the topic.
You can also set notification state per category, if you want to watch every new topic in a specific category.
To change any of these settings, see your user preferences.