Welcome to Forward Motion! Thank you for deciding to join our community. The following tutorial is intended to help you find your way around the site -- which many people feel is pretty overwhelming when they first visit. We try to offer something for everyone, which results in a very large community. This FAQ is designed to provide a moderately comprehensive overview of the site and what we have to offer. It should benefit newcomers and long-time members as well.
Terms of Service
Our TOS are found here. This isn't just legalese, this is the heart and soul of how FMWriters operates. If you ever want a review or to check them to make sure something you are about to post, they are available at the click of a mouse right above the "preview message" or "post message" button.
Don't be surprised if you find more than one way to access something on the site. As with writing itself, there is usually more than one way to do something. There are two display modes -- the Default Lobby and the Simplified Lobby. You'll also find many direct links you'll want in the header table. If the links aren't directly in the header table, look immediately above or below it.
The community is laid out in Forums grouped in Conferences.
The hierarchy goes something like this (assuming you have Preferences set to show all available topics in the classic message layout style, and you're NOT using the MARK time stamp feature):
The Lobby provides an overview of all conferences and top level forums within those conferences. Members can see at a glance if there are new posts in the forums by the folder icon on the left side of the screen next to the forum. If the folder is white, there's nothing new there at this time. If the folder is blue, something new has been posted since the last time you visited (assuming you're visiting from the same computer).
Once you click on a forum, if there are folders in that forum (they're like a sub-forum), you'll see them listed first followed by topics (also known as threads). If you click on a topic, you'll be able to read the main post that kicked off the discussion (assuming the thread consists of multiple posts). If you want to see the full thread without having to click back and forth, click on "View All" in brackets next to the topic title. If you've already clicked on the topic and now realize you'd like to see the full discussion, you still have an opportunity. Just read the entire main post and keep scrolling. Replies to that post will be underneath, and you'll also see another opportunity to click "View All."
You'll notice different icons in the left hand column next to a topic. A pushpin indicates a pinned topic -- a moderator or admin has deemed this topic important enough to keep at the top of a forum. There are several different icons for different types of posts. Any of these posts with a flame icon over it represent a post with a lot of activity -- as in a "hot" topic.
Getting Your Account Configured
This section is designed to help you get your view of the site configured in a way you like best. Signature lines aren't required, but a lot of people like them, so if you are interested in setting one up, this will help you do so. The other settings are designed to allow you to configure how you want the community to appear when you are here. This can be a confusing process, so we'll try to point out a few settings that may be helpful.
These can be created in User Menu in the horizontal bar just below the header (starts with Login on the far left), then go to Edit your profile. The box to build your signature is at the bottom of this page. If you're familiar with html, most of what you know will work on this site so long as you include it within square brackets rather than angle brackets; this goes for posts as well as your signature line. There's also a User Menu link above the header box in the center.
The small icons you see in folks' signatures are called pips and can be added to your signature by copying links from Art for the Boards and Signature Files or Writing Pips for Signature linked at the bottom of every Forward Motion page. Clicking the link will open a new tab or window for you, simplifying the procedure of posting into Edit your profile as explained above. The pips are on an honor system. It's up to you to choose the pips that show your personal writing journey.
Progress bars can be made following the link at the top of the header, then copied into your signature file.
When you've created your signature, click update. This refreshed page allows you to view your signature file as displayed on posts. Every post you have made on FM will automatically change to the new signature (unless you've changed the setting: see editing preferences below).
Some folks have chosen not to display large signature files but instead store their pips in a post created in the Tribune of Triumphs board. They then provide a link to that post in their signature lines. You're welcome to do it either way.
Editing your Preferences
This is also in your user menu, and I have a couple of suggestions to make about this.
Check no for the line about making your signatures editable with each post. This allows the automatic update I spoke of in the previous section. If you click yes, your signature block will show up in your post and you will be able to edit each time if you prefer. Most of us choose no.
Another option in this section is Date Limit. The default is one month. However, a lot of class transcripts and great discussions are older than that and won't show up on your boards unless you change this to All Available Topics. If you're on a slow connection, however, you may want to leave this one at default.
Many boards have multiple pages. There are links to the other pages at the top of the boards. Sometimes a thread you're following gets dropped to the second or third page because there are a lot of new posts on page one.
How to Post
To post a new topic: You'll find the post link right below the header within boards. Reading from left to right you’ll see Logout, FAQ, Search, Read New and Post.
Click on the Post link. Don’t indent or tab in the beginning of paragraphs. Double-spacing between paragraphs makes blocks of text much easier to read.
To respond to a post: Unlike many forums, FM's software uses threaded posts. This means that you need to be careful where in a thread you are when you click reply. If you want your post to be in response to the initial post, you need to click on the link in that post. If you are responding to a subsequent post, click reply on that one.
At the top of each individual board is a subscription link. If you click Subscribe to this Forum, you'll receive an email every night listing all new posts to this board. I highly suggest you subscribe to Announcements in this way.
You may also subscribe to individual threads within the various boards. This is especially helpful if you've asked a question and want to be notified when someone answers it. If you choose to subscribe to a busy thread you will get a lot of emails, so make sure this is what you want. However, you can un-subscribe whenever you want to.