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

๐Ÿ™‚ or ๐Ÿ™‚

Sad

๐Ÿ™ or ๐Ÿ™

Grin

๐Ÿ˜€

Love

๐Ÿ˜ก

Mischief

;\

Cool

B-)

Devil

]:)

Silly

:p

Angry

X-(

Laugh

:^0

Wink

๐Ÿ˜‰ or ๐Ÿ˜‰

Blush

:8}

Cry

:_|

Confused

?:|

Shocked

:O

Plain

๐Ÿ˜

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 liveโ€”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.