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Make the most of your post with TechRepublic's enhanced features

TechRepublic has implemented several new features in the Discussion Center and Tech Q&A forums. These enhanced features provide users with new ways to express themselves and better ways to make their point to the rest of the community.

Thousands of TechRepublic members participate in our Discussion Center and Technical Q&A forums each day, trading ideas, offering solutions, and adding commentary. Over the last several months, we have asked for your input on some of the things you like about our Discussion Center and Tech Q&A systems, what you don't like, and what you would like to see changed in these forums.

Based on your feedback, we have implemented some new features live on the Web site and are looking for some feedback. Whether you are merely a forum lurker, an occasional participant, or a hardcore regular contributor, we want to know what you think about these enhancements. These enhanced features provide you with new ways to express yourself and make your point to the rest of the community.

Subscribe to a discussion

Inside our Discussion Forums, you can use our new subscribe feature to set up an e-mail notification that will notify you when new posts are added to a particular discussion thread. The alert system will aggregate your discussion threads and send you an e-mail every four hours. In the Technical Q&A forums, you will receive notification when a question you posted is answered and a separate notification if one of your answers is rated by a community member.

Emoticons

Sometimes you need a little more than mere text to express your point with the passion it demands. For that reason, we have implemented a system of emoticons. But you'll find more than just happy faces in our emoticon converter. In fact, type ]:) in a discussion post and you'll see what we mean. Here are the current emoticons we have implemented.

Emotion

ASCII

Image

Happy

:) or :-)

happy.gif

Sad

:( or :-(

sad.gif

Grin

:D

grin.gif

Love

:x

love.gif

Mischief

;\

mischief.gif

Cool

B-)

cool.gif

Devil

]:)

devil.gif

Silly

:p

silly.gif

Angry

X-(

angry.gif

Laugh

:^0

laugh.gif

Wink

;) or ;-)

wink.gif

Blush

:8}

blush.gif

Cry

:_|

cry.gif

Confused

?:|

confused.gif

Shocked

:O

shocked.gif

Plain

:|

plain.gif

Adding URLs inside the discussion

One admittedly annoying problem with the previous version of the TechRepublic Discussion Center was the way the system would break URL links. We are overjoyed to announce that URL links are now fixed, active, and alive. And, the even better news is that all URLs previously listed in discussions are also live—in other words, no more broken links. Now, you can put a link in your post that takes members to important information, wherever it resides on the Internet. If someone asks how to "Prevent the automatic creation of hyperlinks in Microsoft Excel" you can send them directly to the answer, which makes discussions more dynamic and more useful for the entire member community.

Formatting tags

Another way to enhance the communication of ideas in a discussion post is to add emphasis with basic text formatting. While the system does not allow HTML tags, we have made allowances for basic text features like bold, italic, underline, and verbatim text. To implement these formats, you use these special custom tags:

  • Bold use [b] Bold [/b]
  • Italic use [i] Italic [/i]
  • Underline use [u] Underline [/u]
  • Verbatim use [pre] Verbatim [/pre]

The verbatim text custom tags are equivalent to the <pre> tag in HTML. This tag is intended for programming code and other texts that are best displayed "as is" without being modified to conform to page style. For example, this XML code snippet can now be included in a discussion post without losing the indents and other formatting:

<?xml version='1.0'?>
<object colour="red" type="polygon">
    <height units="cm">23</height>
    <width units="cm">5</width>
</object>

Alias and user name

Upon initial registration, your TechRepublic user name was designated to be your e-mail address by default. But in this era of excessive spam and junk mail, many of us don't want our e-mail addresses visible on Web sites where they can be easily harvested by evil marketers. In TechRepublic's discussion system, your e-mail address can be concealed by designating an alias; otherwise known as your user name.

To change the default user name/alias setting, you must edit your account profile. Before posting your comments to a discussion thread you will be asked if you want to change your alias information, which is accessed via the My Account page. This page can also be reached using the navigation menu in the upper right corner of most TechRepublic Web pages. Once you change your user name/alias, everything you have posted in the past and everything you post in the future will be associated with your new identification, and your e-mail address will be concealed.

Profiles and Contacts

If you crave more information about a TechRepublic member, click their alias to find their Profile. Click the "Add to my Contacts" link on any member's Profile page and they'll be added to your Contacts list. You can easily view all your contacts' posts in the Discussion Center under Posts From My Contacts. You won't miss a single solution! You can also find members who share your interests on the People Page. Use it to explore the most popularly listed member interests and technologies.

Remember, other members will be checking out your Profile. Don't disappoint them by providing no details about your skills and talents. Update your profile now!

We need your input

The TechRepublic Discussion Center and Tech Q&A forums are a vital part of the TechRepublic community, and we are committed to providing a full feature-set for those areas on our Web site. Join or start a discussion and let us know what you like about these feature changes, what you don't like, and, most importantly, what you would like to see implemented at a future date.

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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