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Help - How to use this forum?

Started by Shades, March 22, 2023, 11:20:30 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

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Topic keywords [SEO] RegisteringLoggingInProfileHelpSearchPostingBulletinBoardCodeBBCPersonalMessagesMemberlistCalendarFeatures


Welcome to Shades Web Designs & Custom Logos, powered by Simple Machines® Forum (SMF) software!

SMF® is the elegant, effective, powerful and free forum software solution that this site is running. It allows users to communicate in discussion topics on a given subject in a clever and organized manner. Furthermore, it has a number of powerful features which end users can take advantage of. Help for many of SMF's features can be found by either clicking the question mark icon next to the relevant section or by selecting one of the links on this page. These links will take you to our centrally-located documentation on this site.

  • Registering - Many forums require users to register to gain full access.
  • Logging In - Once registered, users must login to access their account.
  • Profile - Each member has their own personal profile.
  • Search - Searching is an extremely helpful tool for finding information in posts and topics.
  • Posting - The whole point of a forum, posting allows users to express themselves.
  • Bulletin Board Code (BBC) - Posts can be spiced up with a little BBC.
  • Personal Messages - Users can send personal messages to each other.
  • Memberlist - The memberlist shows all the members of a forum.
  • Calendar - Users can keep track of events, holidays, and birthdays with the calendar.
  • Features - Here is a list of the most popular features in SMF.

For more information about how to use SMF, please see the Simple Machines Documentation Wiki and check out the credits to find out who has made SMF what it is today.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


When a user sets up an SMF forum, or wishes to join another SMF forum, they should register an account. This will enable them to maintain a consistent identity while posting and keep track of what they have read, no matter where they are working from or what computer they are using. They will be able to fill out a personal Profile and use the built-in Personal Message system. They will also be able to subscribe to e-mail notifications, monitor their forum activity and more.

When and How to Register

Certain forums may choose to restrict access to the full forum or selected areas, allowing only registered members to view the content. A guest should register when they wish to participate in forum discussions, visit a forum frequently, and access members-only areas and benefits.

A guest is any person or web spider that is not logged into the forum. Once a person registers they become a member, although they will still show up as a guest until they log in.

Members may have access to profile and notification options that are unavailable to guests, although these options may vary, depending on the permissions which have been set by the forum administrator. Members can also be placed in membergroups, made moderators or administrators, given special permissions and access to members-only areas. Being able to send personal messages, receive forum emails, and post new polls and topics are some additional benefits that may be available to members of the forum.

A guest may register at any time by simply selecting the register option from the main menu.

Most forums require a guest to accept a registration agreement before the registration process can begin. By checking the option I Agree, a guest consents to comply with the agreement throughout the duration of their membership. Some forums may also incorporate a minimum age into the agreement process.

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Upon arrival at the registration screen, a guest is requested to enter a username and a valid email address. Failure to use a valid email address may hinder registration, depending on how a forum is configured.

The option to choose an authentication method is only shown if OpenID is allowed by the administrator as a registration option. If OpenID is not allowed, then a password must be entered.

A form of visual verification may be present in order to confirm that a guest is actually a person and not a bot. This verification may be requested in two ways - CAPTCHA and custom questions. The CAPTCHA method displays an image containing a random collection of letters, which a guest must enter into a text field. The custom questions method displays one or more relatively simple questions, which a guest must answer correctly. A forum may be configured to use both methods at the same time.

Once a guest completes the registration form, there are three possibilities for what is displayed next based on how the forum is configured.

  • Login - If registration is immediate, the new member will be automatically logged in after completing the registration form.
  • Activation - If a message about email activation is displayed, the new account must first be activated before login. An email with instructions how to proceed is sent to the new member's email address.
  • Approval - If a message about member approval is displayed, the new account must first be approved by an administrator before login. An email acknowledging the new member is sent to their email address. Another email may be sent later to inform them whether or not their application has been approved.

Activating a New Account

If a forum is configured to require email activation before login, an email will be sent to the email address provided at registration. The username and activation link are displayed in this e-mail. Selecting the activation link activates the member's account and prompts them to login. If a problem occurs with the activation link, the email also provides an activation code that can be used to complete the process. Note that a link to reset the password may be included in this e-mail, depending on the activation method enabled on the forum.

If a member attempts to login before completing the activation process, an error will be displayed noting that their email address must be validated. A Need another activation email? link is also displayed in case the email has somehow been lost.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


You must login after registration and after being logged out of a previous visit. You have the choice of the normal login screen, and the quick login options.

The Login Screen

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This is the screen you see when you use the "Login" option of the main menu. It is also the first thing you will see in any 'members only' forum.

  • Username - The member's username.
  • Password - The member's password.
  • OpenID - The member's OpenID. This is only displayed if it has been enabled by the forum administrator.
  • Minutes to stay logged in - The number of minutes the browser cookie will last before expiring.
  • Always stay logged in - Prevents the browser cookie from expiring.

When using a shared computer, a member probably should not stay logged in for a long time or check the "Always stay logged in" option, unless they remember to log out when finished. Leaving an account logged in on a shared computer makes it vulnerable to use by someone other than the member.

The Quick Login

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An SMF forum may be configured to allow login from any page. This is called Quick Login. In the default theme it is located in the top, left corner of each page. Other themes may place it in different locations. If Quick Login is disabled or cannot be seen, the login screen can still be accessed from the main menu.

The session length drop-down menu corresponds to the "Minutes to stay logged in" option from the main login screen. Similarly, selecting "Forever" in this drop-down menu is the same as checking the "Always stay logged in option" on the main login screen.

Password Reminder

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If a password is forgotten or lost, it can be reset by selecting the Forgot your password? option from the login screen. The username or email address for the account is requested to begin the password reset process.

If a member has not set a secret question, an email containing a password reset link is automatically sent to the member's email address. Clicking on the link allows the member to choose a new password. If a secret question has been set, they will be given the option of receiving the email or answering their question. Members may create or change their secret question in Profile > Modify Account > Account Settings

After answering the secret question correctly, a member may choose a new password. The password takes effect and can be used to login immediately.

Logging out

When you have finished browsing the forum, you may decide to logout by selecting the Logout option from the Main Menu.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


A member's profile includes many key details about the member and can help them manage their own personal forum preferences. A member may also have the option to write their own signature, upload an avatar, and enter personal contact information. Usually, other members of the forum will be able to view your profile unless the admin disallows this permission.

A member viewing their own profile will find a lot of differences when comparing their profile to that of other members, unless they are an admin or have been granted the required permissions.

An administrator will see members' profiles in the same way as the member would see their own profile, with even more settings than those which the member would see themselves. This allows the admin to control all of the settings of any member.

The profile is broken down into three categories of settings and options which are described below.

Profile Information

he Summary screen (in the section Profile Info) displays basic forum information about a member, as well as any additional information that they may wish to share. An SMF forum may be customized extensively by its administrator(s), so the information displayed may vary greatly between forums.

A member may view their own profile summary at any time simply by selecting Profile from the main menu. A member may view another member's profile summary by selecting the member's name wherever it is displayed on the forum. The following is commonly displayed.

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  • Display Name - A member may choose a display name that is different to their username. The Display Name appears next to a member's posts in the forum, so it is the name that is visible to the public. After registering at a forum, the display name is usually set to be the same as the username, but you can change this in the section Profile > Account Settings. Change the text in the field Name and then click on Change profile at the bottom of the page in order to save.
  • Membergroup - If a member has been assigned a primary membergroup, it is displayed. Otherwise, their post-based membergroup is displayed.
  • Communication Icons - If a member provides information for various communication methods such as email, web site, ICQ, or AIM, it will be displayed in the form of icons.
  • Online Status - If a member has not chosen to hide their online status, it is displayed.
  • Add To Buddy List - If the forum administrator(s) have enabled buddy lists, members may add each other as buddies.
  • Send PM - A member may send a private message to another member.
  • Show Posts - All of the posts of a particular member.
  • Show Stats - A member may view various stats related to another member.
  • Username - A member uses their username to login. This entry is listed only when members are viewing their own profile.
  • Posts - The forum keeps track of the number of each member's post, as well as an average per day.
  • Email - A member may choose to hide their email, in which case it is not displayed.
  • Custom Title - If a member has been given a custom title, it is displayed.
  • Karma - If Karma has been enabled by the forum administrator it is displayed.
  • Personal Text - If a member has chosen to enter personal text, it is displayed.
  • Gender - A member may choose not to disclose their gender, in which case it is not displayed.
  • Age - If a member has filled in their birth date, their age is displayed.
  • Location - If a member has chosen to disclose their location, it is displayed.
  • Warning Level - If a member has been warned it is displayed to administrators, and also to moderators who have been assigned the necessary permissions.
  • Date Registered - The forum remembers when each member first registered.
  • IP and Hostname - This is displayed to administrators, and also to moderators who have been assigned the necessary permissions.
  • Local Time - Since a member may be from any part of the world, their local time is displayed.
  • Language - This is displayed if it has been enabled by a forum administrator.
  • Last Active - The forum keeps track of when a member was last active.
  • Signature - If a member has created a signature, then it is displayed here.
  • Advanced profile fields - If this core feature has been enabled by the administrator additional custom fields may appear on the profile summary.
Note that when using the side menu certain items such as Show Stats and Show Posts will appear in this side menu rather than in the profile summary.

Show Posts

All of the posts of a particular member, excluding those that have been removed, may be viewed by selecting Show Posts from the member's profile info summary. There are three formats that can be used:

  • Messages - A list of all the member's individual posts is displayed.
  • Topics - A list of the first posts from each of the topics that the member started is displayed.
  • Attachments - A list of all the attachments the member has uploaded is displayed.

Show Stats

The profile stats screen may be viewed by selecting Show Stats from a member's profile info summary. Some interesting information may be found here:

  • Total Time Spent Online - The forum keeps an approximation of the total amount of time each member has spent browsing the forum.
  • Total Posts - Excluding removed posts, the forum calculates the total number of posts made by each member.
  • Total Topics Started - Excluding removed topics, the forum calculates the total number of topics started by each member.
  • Number of Polls Created - Excluding removed polls, the forum calculates the total number of polls created by each member.
  • Number of Votes Cast - Excluding removed votes, the total number of votes cast by each member.
  • Posting Activity By Time - The forum calculates the percentage of posts made by a member in each hour of the day.
  • Most Popular Boards By Posts - The forum generates a ranking of the boards most posted in by the member, relative to the member's total post count.
  • Most Popular Boards By Activity - The forum generates a ranking of the boards most posted in by the member, relative to the board's total post count.

Show Permissions

This page is shown only to members who are in membergroups that are allowed to manage permissions. The page shows all of the permissions the member has, along with the boards that the member cannot see. By means of the drop-down list, it is possible to see which permissions a member has for a specific board.

Track User

These pages are only available to those in membergroups granted the permission to Moderate forum members.

  • Activity - Here, you can view the Most recent IP address used by the member, along with the IPs used in messages, IPs used in error messages, and members possibly in the same range. Below that are any error messages caused by that member.
  • IP Address - Here, you can track the member's current IP address (or type in a different one) and do things such as view Whois records and view other members from the same IP/range. Also you can view messages posted at the IP/range entered and view errors caused by members from that IP/range as well.
  • Profile Edits - This section provides a list of certain actions undertaken on a user's profile, along with the date and the author of the change. To be able to see this information the Moderation, Administration and User Logs option must be activated in the Core Features section.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


Modify Profile

Account Settings

Members may modify basic account settings by default. These settings control the member's access to their account, as well as when and how they are visible to other members browsing the forum. The following options are available to be modified:

  • Name - While the username cannot usually be changed, a member may change their display name at any time. Other members browsing the forum will see display names instead of usernames in most places.
  • Preferred Language - If enabled by the administrator, a member can select their preferred language for the forum.
  • Email - The email address associated with a member's account may be changed, however a valid email address is required.
  • Allow users to email me - A member may choose to allow other members to contact them via email. The forum does not reveal the member's email address, but instead provides a contact form.
  • Show others my online status - If selected, a member will be displayed in the forum's Who's Online list.
  • Change Password - A member's password may be changed at any time.
  • Secret Question - The secret question is used in the event that a member forgets their password. Providing the correct answer aids the member in retrieving the password.
  • Current Password - The member's current password is required to make any changes to their account settings.

Forum Profile

In addition to basic account settings members also have the option of filling in additional, more personal information. None of these fields are required, and users often choose to leave some or all of them blank:

  • Avatar - An avatar is a small picture or graphic associated with a member. Some forums may allow members to upload or link to external avatars, while others may only allow members to select from a provided set of images. Avatars appear below the Display name in posts.
  • Personal Text - The personal text is usually displayed directly underneath a member's avatar when they post.
  • Birthdate - When a member provides their full birthdate, their age is calculated and displayed on their profile. If the calendar feature is enabled, it is also placed on the calendar. Members can choose to omit the year of birth, in which case their birthday will still be displayed on the calendar, but their age will not be calculated.
  • Location - A member may choose to give a general idea of their location. It is not encouraged (or wise) for members to give their specific location in the form of an address or lat/lon coordinates.
  • Gender - If desired, a member may have their gender displayed. Selecting the blank line will prevent any gender from being displayed.
  • Messengers - Members may provide their various messenger usernames or numbers for clients such as ICQ, AIM, MSN, and YIM.
  • Custom Title - Forum administrators may allow a member to choose their own custom title. Custom titles are displayed below the member's display name when posting.
  • Signature - If provided, a member's signature is attached to the bottom of each of their posts.
  • Website - A member may advertise their own web site by providing its URL and a title.

Look and Layout

By default, members may change many different options that affect the look and layout to make their forum experience more enjoyable. Some forum administrators may choose to limit these options, but here are the basics.

SMF provides the ability to create and use different themes. Provided there is more than one theme installed, a member may choose the theme that they prefer. They may also customize the time format that the theme uses to display dates and times. Additionally, setting a time offset allows the forum to display dates and times in the member's local time. The forum provides a handy auto-detect feature in case a member does not know what their offset should be.

The following options may be enabled or disabled by selecting their corresponding checkboxes:

  • Show board descriptions inside boards. - The description displayed on the Board Index will also be displayed on that board's Message Index.
  • Show child boards on every page inside boards, not just the first. - Each page inside of a board will display a list of child boards if there are any. If disabled, the list will only be displayed on the first page.
  • Don't show users' avatars.- Some users find avatars annoying, so they may choose to hide them altogether.
  • Don't show users' signatures. - As is the case with avatars, signatures may also be hidden.
  • Return to topics after posting by default. - If enabled, a member will be returned to the end of the topic in which they have just posted. Otherwise, they will be returned to the message index for that particular board.
  • Don't warn on new replies made while posting. - When other users post while a member is preparing their post, a warning is generated. With this option enabled, those warnings will be hidden.
  • Hide messages posted by members on my ignore list. - Posts from users on a member's ignore list will not be displayed.
  • Show most recent posts at the top. - The display order of posts is switched to reverse chronological when this option is enabled.
  • Show WYSIWYG editor on post page by default. - The WYSIWYG editor removes the need to know BBCodes. It may be enabled by default when posting.
Members may also choose how many topics to display per page on a board's message index and how many posts to display per page within a topic. There are also options for using quick reply and quick moderation. Quick reply allows members to post to a topic without actually using the posting page. Quick moderation allows members to perform moderation actions on multiple posts or topics more quickly if they have the permissions to do so.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean



The forum allows a member to switch between using OpenID (if it has been enabled by the administrator) or a username and password combination to login. In order to switch, however, the account's current password is required.


SMF provides notification options that may prove useful to many members. In addition to the options available below, a member may choose to be notified instantly, daily, or weekly about replies, moderation actions, or both in topics for which they have requested notifications.

  • Receive forum newsletters, announcements and important notifications by email. - Newsletters, announcements, and other notifications will be delivered to the member's email. Even if this option is disabled, forum administrators are able to override it in some instances.
  • Turn notification on when you post or reply to a topic. - When a member posts a new topic or replies to an existing topic, notification for that topic will be turned on automatically when this option is enabled.
  • When sending notification of a reply to a topic, send the post in the email (but please don't reply to these emails). - Email notifications will include the contents of the posts. These emails should not be responded to.
On this page it is also possible to define the frequency of notifications and the actions that will be notified. A member may also see lists of the topics and boards for which they have requested notification. If desired, they may turn off notifications for some or all of them.

Ignore Boards Options

If enabled by an administrator, users can choose to ignore any boards on the forum. When a board is ignored, it is still shown on the Board Index, but the New Posts icon will not show up for this board. In addition, new posts will not be shown for an ignored board when using the link Show unread posts since last visit. Neither will they be shown when using the link Unread posts next to the category names in the Board Index. However, when using the link Show new replies to your posts, new posts in an ignored board will still be shown. Also, when entering an ignored board via the Board Index, topics that have new posts will still be indicated with an icon.

Personal Messaging

Personal messages allow private communication between two members. SMF provides a variety of options that allow a member to control how private messages are displayed, who is allowed to send them, and how a few more of the features function.

The first two options address how private messages are displayed. If a member chooses All at once, a list of messages is displayed at the top with all of those messages displayed below the list. Selecting One at a time results in only one message being displayed at the top with a list of messages below it. As a conversation mimics the forum functionality, creating a topic-like list of replies. It is highly recommended that a member save their messages in their outbox if they choose to display messages as a conversation. The second option controls the order in which the messages are displayed.

  • Receive personal messages from - Members may control who is allowed to send them private messages. It can be limited to members not on their ignore list, buddies and administrators, or only administrators.
  • Notify by email every time you receive a personal message - Notification may be enabled in order to receive emails when private messages are received on the forum.
  • Show a popup when I receive new messages. - Additionally, a popup message may also be enabled to notify a member of new messages.
The last two available options are the following:
  • Save a copy of each personal message in my outbox by default - When sending a message, a copy of it is saved in a member's outbox automatically. This option should be enabled when viewing messages as a conversation.
  • Remove the inbox label when applying another label - When a new label is applied to a message, the inbox label is removed.

Buddies/Ignore List

Inevitably, there will be times when members get along great and times when personalities clash. SMF provides a way to handle both instances. The buddy list allows members to keep track of users they enjoy talking to, while the ignore list hides users they do not want to see.

  • Edit Buddies - Members may add or delete other members from their buddy list.
  • Edit Ignore List - Members may add or delete other members from their ignore list.

Group Membership

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Some forums may provide free groups that can be joined whenever a member pleases, as well as special groups that require the member to submit a join request.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean



Send personal message

Click this link to send a Personal message to the member whose profile you are viewing. Permission to send personal messages is needed in order to see this link.

Issue a Warning

On this page a moderator can issue a Warning to other users based on their behavior or other reasons determined by the forum staff

Paid Subscriptions

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Some forum administrators may choose to utilize SMF's paid subscriptions feature. This feature makes it easier for members to order, pay for, and keep track of their paid services. They may subscribe to one of these services by simply selecting the Order button corresponding to the subscription they desire.

The forum also lists a member's existing subscriptions if they have any.

Ban This User

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On this page administrators can ban the member whose profile they are viewing from the forum. Only members that have the permission Manage ban list can see this link and perform the action. As with deleting an account, use this option with care. Note, this link directs you to the Add new ban section of the admin panel with some details already filled out about the member that you wish to ban.

Delete This Account

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Should a member decide that they no longer want to be part of a forum, they may delete their account. The member's current password is required to carry out this task. Administrators can also restrict members' ability to delete their accounts, as well as delete members' accounts themselves. If an administrator wishes to delete a member's account there is also the option to delete a member's posts and topics by selecting the appropriate option from the drop down menu.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


The SMF default theme and its derivatives have a simple search field in the collapsible header as well as a search link in the main menu. Using the link in the main menu, users can also access the advanced search screen. Administrators can choose to disable search or regulate the search permissions for users.

Simple Search

The simple search field located at the top of the default SMF theme will, when viewing topics, filter search results to just that topic. The same applies to boards as well - when viewing a board the simple search field will filter the search to just results in that particular board.

While you can just type and search for any combination of characters, you should consider using modifiers to make the search really work for you.

The search tool searches the entire forum for any or all of what you specify that has been posted during the last 9999 days (which is more than 27 years)! To take more control of your search, you should use the advanced search feature.

Advanced Search

Although the advanced search screen might initially seem a little intimidating if a forum has many boards and child boards, it is surprisingly straightforward when reduced to its basic components.

  • Despite initial appearances, there are really three options for how to search, with Match all words and Match any words being available from the drop-down menu, and Match as phrase also an option.
  • The default * in the By user field is essentially a wildcard matching any poster. Please note that, while you can replace this with any single username for a more specific search, it is not possible to search for posts by multiple users.
  • Show results as messages returns the full message containing the search string (with a reply option) instead of the usual linked excerpt, but will naturally result in much larger results pages which might be significant if you are searching for a popular word or phrase.
  • Message age sets the minimum and maximum ages of posts to search.
  • Choose a board to search in provides you with another tool to narrow the scope of the search, with the default being 'all' (the whole forum or, more properly, all the boards to which you have read access). To search by board you need to expand the list of boards by clicking on Choose a board to search in, or search all and select which boards to search in and check the correct box.
  • The Search button not surprisingly sets the whole thing in motion, but pressing 'Enter' direct from any of the search fields is sometimes more convenient.


Using the simple or advanced search methods, you can still use search modifiers. These are powerful special characters which modify the way in which SMF handles your search string.

  • Phrase search - use double quotes (") around your term ("search term") to search for the search term as a phrase instead of individual words.
  • Excluding terms - use a minus sign in front of terms you would like to exclude from the search result. For instance, "search -term" will search for "search" but not "term". The minus sign must have a space prior to it.
More search modifiers may be found at Google's help page. Not all of them may be useful in SMF at the present time.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


When a user registers and logs into a forum, they may want to make some posts. Posting is a fairly easy process. Note, however, that whether a user can post in a board or topic depends on each board's permissions, and a user's membergroup.

Starting a New Topic

Go to the board where you wish to post and click on the New Topic button (positioned by default at both the top and the bottom of the board), which will take you to the Start New Topic screen. While this presents a number of options, the two most important are the Subject field and main text area for the message itself. Enter your subject and start typing (or paste) your message in the main text area. Once you are happy with your message, you can post it by clicking the Post button and/or preview it first by using the Preview button. Some forums may be configured to offer an additional Spell Check button alongside the Post and Preview options.

Replying to a Topic or Poll

To post a message in an existing topic, click on the Reply button which is located both at the top and bottom of the topic. When replying to a topic it is not necessary to enter anything in the subject field unless you wish to change what is already there. To vote in a poll, you simply have to select your chosen option(s) and then click on Submit Vote. You may also be able to do other things with the post, such as attaching a file.

If 'Quick Reply' has been enabled, a simple Reply field will also appear after the posts on a page, but you will have to type your Bulletin Board Code and Smileys manually if you choose to use them.

Standard Posting Options

  • Message icon - This drop-down menu allows users to change the default icon for the subject line to something matching the mood or purpose of the post.
  • Bulletin Board code - Bulletin Board Code (or BBC) is the essential tool for formatting and changing the appearance of posts. While it affects the plain text in much the same way as the formatting tools in any word processor, the main message field does not behave in a WYSIWYG manner, so users should preview their messages if they need to see what the post will look like when posted.
  • WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get. Instead of BBCodes, the effects on the text appear in the text window. Switch WYSIWIG on and off using the WYSIWYG Toggle View button.

Additional Options

The following options may either appear by default, or they may be contained within an expanding/collapsing panel:

  • Notify me of replies - Users should check this to subscribe to e-mail notification of replies to the topic.
  • Return to this topic - Users should check this to return to the topic (instead of the message index) after posting.
  • Don't use smileys - Users should check this to prevent certain character combinations in their posts from being parsed and rendered as smileys.

The following options are only available to administrators and members with special permissions:

  • Announce topic - This will send the topic as an announcement via e-mail either to all members who are able to view this topic or to a subset of those members.
  • Lock this topic - This prevents members who don't have moderation privileges from replying to the topic.
  • Sticky this topic - This forces the topic to always be displayed at the top of the message index.
  • Move this topic - This moves the topic to a different board.
  • Attachments - If enabled, this feature allows users to attach files to their posts in the same way as most e-mail clients. Users simply have to browse to the relevant files on their computer before selecting Post. Multiple attachments, up to the limit set by the administrator, can be added to a single post by selecting the Additional Attachments link. Users can delete their attachments or add more by modifying their posts. The permitted file types and sizes are set by the forum administrator. Some forums may display image attachments in line with the post or show them as thumbnails below the post.

Starting a New Poll

A poll is basically a topic with an added question and voting options, started by selecting New Poll instead of New Topic as described above. To post a poll, it is necessary to fill out the Question field and at least two of the Options fields, in addition to the Subject and Message fields required by a standard topic. The user then fills in additional options to suit their own needs. Please note that only the message can be seen when previewing the poll.

To offer more than five choices in a poll, users should simply select Add Option as many times as desired.

Depending on set permissions for certain membergroups, some users may be able to add a poll to an existing topic.

Poll Options

When adding or modifying polls, users have a lot of options available to suit their needs

  • Maximum votes per user - Under the Options field, the users will notice the Poll Option field, with the Maximum votes per user line. If the user would like voters to be able to vote more than once in a poll, they need to add the desired number of maximum votes per user.
  • Run the poll for X days - If the user would like the poll to end or expire in a certain amount of days, they need to enter an integer in the Run the poll for X days field. If they leave this field blank, there will be no limit to how long the poll will run.
  • Allow users to change vote - This option should be checked if the user would like to allow voters to change their votes. If this option is left unchecked, voters will not be allowed to change their votes.
  • Show the poll's results to anyone - A user should select this option if they want anyone (members/guests) to be able to view the poll results.
  • Only show the results after someone has voted - Users should select this option to show the poll's results only after a member has voted. Only registered members may vote in polls.
  • Only show the results after the poll has expired - Users should select this option if they want to show the poll's results only after the poll has expired. For this option to be available, they must have changed the Run the poll for X days field to a number above zero.
  • Reset Vote Count - Users should check this if they want to reset all vote counts to zero.
  • Preview - Just as when a user wishes to post, they have the option of previewing their poll's changes before saving them.

All board moderators can modify polls and do the above actions, as well as view the results of the poll at any time while the poll is running. Moderators can also remove polls and lock voting.

Quoting a Post

There are two ways of replying to a post by quoting it. The first option is to click on the Quote button on the top right-hand side of the relevant post. The second option is to select the Reply button which will take you to the Post reply screen. On this page you can quote a post from the Topic Summary located below the message editor. Simply click on Insert Quote next to the relevant post.

  • Both of the above options add a link to the original post showing the name of the poster and the date and time of the post. This information is added by attributes in the opening quote tag (author=, link=topic=, date=). The plain Bulletin Board Code quote tag simply quotes the relevant post without any additional information.
  • You can retain or add the 'author' attribute independently of the full quote function.

Modifying or Deleting a Post

To modify a post, select the Modify link or the You cannot view this attachment.  icon and make your changes. Most forums are likely to be configured to show the date and time of the last edit, but the administrator(s) may also allow a short period of time to elapse before this happens.

To delete a post, select the Remove button followed by OK from the Remove this message? box that will appear. Some forums may also allow you to remove topics or polls that you start, but the buttons for these are usually at the bottom of the page. It is not possible for a user to remove their first post in a new thread if replies have been posted.

It is up to your forum's administrator to set the permissions that determine who will be allowed to Modify and Delete posts, and for how long after making the original post.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


Bulletin Board Codes or BBCodes are a way to format posts in SMF and in many other places online. For an explanation of the buttons on the Post page, see Basic Bulletin Board Codes. This article explains the important concept of nesting.

Nesting BBCodes

The general format of a BBCode tag has three parts: an opening tag, the inside content and a closing tag, as shown below:

[open]      text inside      [/close]
[b]         bold text        [/b]

When Order Matters, Part 1

You can place one BBCode tag inside another as long as the child tag is closed before the parent tag. For example, the correct way to make bold and italic text is:
[b][i]bold & italic text[/i][/b]
You can also do it in the following way, which is also valid, with the same tags in reverse order:
[i][b]bold & italic text[/b][/i]
The correct method can be visualized more clearly when the tags are indented:
        bold & italic text

The next example is incorrectly nested. The last two lines show that the parent tag [ b ] was closed before the child tag [ i ].
[b][i]bold & italic text[/b][/i]
        bold & italic text

When Order Matters, Part 2

The order in which tags are nested is important when text-formatting tags such as size, bold, or italic are paired with the text-alignment tags center, left, right, and pre. Formatting tags must be placed inside alignment tags. For example, for the size tag to change the font, it must be placed as follows:
Nesting the size tags as per the example below will result in this tag not working:
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


SMF has a powerful system of managing personal messages. Personal messages (or PMs for short) are like posts, but instead of being posted in a topic they are sent to one or more members. Typically, personal messages are private correspondence and they are viewable only by the sender and intended recipients - administrators cannot view these personal messages except through the database.

Personal messages cannot be sent by guests or to guests. However, if the sender is deleted sometime after they send the message, they will appear as a guest.

By default, 4,294,967,296 personal messages may be sent on a forum. Since this is a much larger number than the members you can have, it's unlikely you will ever reach it. The number of messages which can be stored by a forum member may be restricted by the administrator, who can change this setting by modifying individual membergroups.

My Messages

Upon clicking the My Messages link on the Main menu you will be lead to a page that lists all of the personal messages sent to you. This is your inbox as you can see from the navigation at the top, the default page loaded for personal messages.

At the top of the page you will see something that looks similar to what you would see on the message index of a board. You will see a listing of your personal messages. The first column where you see a speech bubble lets you know if you have replied to the PM. An arrow on the image means that you have replied to the PM; no arrow means that you have not. The second column is for the date the personal message was sent. Next to that is the subject of the message. To the right of that is the display name of the member that sent it. The final column has check boxes where you can select the ones you want to delete and then push the Delete Selected button located under the list of messages. You can sort personal messages by date, subject, or sender.

Upon clicking on a personal message, the page scrolls down to the actual written message. This will look just like a typical post in a topic. Next to each message you will see links on the top right to: quote the message in a reply by clicking Quote, reply to the message by clicking Reply, and delete the message by clicking Remove. Also, you can report abusive personal messages to the administrator by clicking the Report to Admin link at the bottom right of the message, providing that this function has been enabled by the administrator. The checkboxes located farthest to the top right are also used to delete messages upon clicking the Delete Selected button below the messages.

To view sent messages, select "Sent Items" under "Messages" in the button menu or left side panel. A message is saved to "Sent Items" only if the option Save a copy in my outbox is selected when sending a message. This option can be set as default in the Personal Message Options section of the Profile.


See the Personal Message Options section of the Profile.


Within the default interface of the SMF software there is no way an administrator or anyone else can read your personal messages. Only you and the person you sent it to are able to read what you wrote. However, if a person has access to the database itself, then it is possible for such a person to read personal messages by searching for them in the database with an SQL command. For this reason, it is advised to not send personal messages that contain private information that you do not wish for anyone else to read.

Sending a Personal Message

  • In the "To" box enter the name(s) of the person(s) you are sending a personal message to. If you want to send a message to multiple users, either use commas (for example: user1, user2), or start typing the username of each recipient and then select their username from the drop down menu.
  • if you want to send a Blind Carbon Copy to certain users, click on "Add BCC" beside the "To" field. The recipients in the BCC field will not see who else has received the message.
  • Enter suitable text in the "Subject" box.
  • Write your message in the main input box below "Subject". Basic BBCodes work in the same way for Personal Messages as they do for posting in topics.
  • When you have finished writing your message, you can see how the message will be displayed to the recipient(s) by clicking on "Preview" below the message input field. To actually send the message, click on the button "Send Message".

You can also reply to messages using the same method.

Label System

To keep better control and organization of your personal messages, SMF introduced a method for you to apply labels to your messages. When you apply a label you will then be able to view just the personal messages with that label. All of your labels will be listed under the category "Labels". To create, edit and delete labels select "Preferences" in the Personal Messages section and in the drop down menu select "Manage Labels".

Personal Messages Categories

There are three categories on the Personal Messages page, each of which incorporates a number of different functions.


  • New Message - Select this if you want to create a new message to send to another user as explained above.
  • Inbox - Shows all the messages currently in your inbox. The options for this can be changed as explained in the Personal Messaging section of the Profile page.
  • Sent Items - Shows all the messages which you have sent to other members of the forum. Sent messages are saved automatically only if you select the option "Save a copy of each personal message in my sent items by default" in the profile options. Otherwise, it is necessary to select "Save a copy in my outbox" each time when sending a message.


  • Search - Selecting this allows you to search your received messages in a similar way as using the advanced search function. You cannot search your sent messages.
  • Prune Messages - This allows you to delete all messages that are older than the specified number of days.


  • Manage Labels - Selecting this allows you to add, edit and delete any labels which you have applied to your messages.
  • Manage Rules - Selecting this allows you to have your messages sorted automatically, according to a set of rules which you create. To create a rule select Add New rule and this takes you to a series of drop down menus where you can set up any rules you wish to apply to messages from specific users, and/or the message title and/or body. Multiple criteria can be chosen by selecting Add Criteria. You can also choose whether all or any of the criteria must be met using the dropdown menu. Finally, you can select the action which will be taken with messages to which a rule is applied. Again, you can choose more than one action by selecting Add Action.
  • Change Settings:
    • Display personal messages - If a member chooses All at once, a list of messages is displayed at the top with all of those messages displayed below the list. Selecting One at a time results in only one message being displayed at the top with a list of messages below it. As a conversation mimics the forum functionality, creating a topic-like list of replies. It is highly recommended that a member save their messages in the outbox (see below) if they choose to display messages as a conversation.
    • Show most recent personal messages at top - Users can choose whether new messages should be displayed at the top or bottom of the list.
    • Receive personal messages from - Members may control who is allowed to send them private messages. It can be limited to members not on their ignore list, only buddies and administrators, or only administrators.
    • Notify by email every time you receive a personal message - Users can choose to receive email notification about all personal messages, or only about personal messages from buddies. It is also possible to disable all email notifications about personal messages.
    • Show a popup when I receive new messages - Users can select this option if they would like a popup to notify them of new personal messages.
    • Save a copy of each personal message in my outbox by default - When this option is selected, any personal messages sent by a user will automatically be saved to the outbox. This option should be enabled when viewing messages as a conversation. If this option is not selected, then users have to remember to check the box Save a copy in my outbox before sending each message.
    • Remove the inbox label when applying another label - If this option is enabled, the inbox label is removed when a new label is applied to a message.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


View All Members

Provided that you have the appropriate permissions, you will be able to see the Members entry on the Main Menu or in the Info Center. Clicking one of these links will bring you to the View all Members page, the default page for the Members List section. There is also a Search for Members page in this section, where you can search for members registered on the forum.

On the View All Members page, you will see the list of all the members registered on the forum. Pages are used so that there are not too many members listed on one single page. When there is more than one page, the additional pages can be selected from here. On the right side of the "Members List" title bar, every letter of the English alphabet is displayed. These letters are used to jump to the usernames of registered members that begin with that letter, so that you do not have to scroll through several pages to find them. This does not filter out all of the usernames beginning with different letters, but rather serves as an anchor, so you will be directed to usernames that start with the selected letter.

All usernames in the memberlist can be ordered by: Status (Online/Offline), Username, Email, Website, ICQ, AIM, YIM, MSN, Position, Date Registered, and Posts. These column headings are links that can be used to sort the list in ascending or descending order, or to reverse the sort order of the column under the heading that is currently used to sort the list.

Search for Members

This section allows you to do either a simple search for members, or to choose to filter your results by using additional parameters. You can search for members based on their username, email address, messenger nickname, website, or position.

The search results will show matches for the terms that you enter in the search field. If any of the additional search parameters are selected, then the results will also be filtered accordingly. The search does not look only for full-word exact matches, but also for any parts of text that match the search terms. For this reason, if the search term represents only part of the word that you are looking for, then the results may show many more matches than expected.

Some of the additional search parameters relate to information that users can either choose not to include in their profile (messenger nickname, website) or they can choose not to reveal it to the public (email), so using these parameters might not always bring up the results that you are looking for. The results of the search will be more accurate the more letters/words that are used in the search.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


The calendar feature, if enabled by the administrator, is found in the Main menu of the forum. It can be used to record and display holidays, birthdays, and events. Birthdays entered in members' profiles are displayed on the calendar. Some or all members may have permission to post calendar events. Administrators can configure the calendar via the calendar settings section of the Administration Center.

The calendar also displays mini-calendars on the left of the current calendar. These mini-calendars show an overview of the previous, current and following month.

Posting an event to the calendar

If the calendar feature is enabled and users are given the required permission, events can be posted to the calendar by clicking on Post Event below the main calendar view.

Post Event is an option in the drop-down menu when selecting Calendar in the main menu. If enabled by an administrator, it is also possible to simply click on a day in the calendar in order to post a new event on that day.

Users with the appropriate permissions may see Link to Calendar at the bottom of each topic. This button enables users to create a new calendar event that is linked to the currently viewed topic.
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


SMF 2.1.x is a very versatile forum software. It has many features, including the following:

Minimum requirements

  • PHP 7.0+
  • MySQL 5.6.0+ or PostgreSQL 9.6+


  • Automated Installation of mods on non-default themes
  • "Smart emulation" to automatically detect a mod's version and to automatically emulate this mod when it is installed
  • Improved attachment security
  • Improved attachment error handling
  • SCEditor (New WYSIWYG editor)
  • Drafts
  • Enhanced admin panel
  • IPv6 Support
  • Built in support for jQuery
  • Full SSL Support
  • Verification questions support for multiple answers and multiple languages
  • Deny access to boards
  • Moved topics placeholders can be set to auto expire/delete
  • Topic preview when hovering over subject on message index
  • Likes System
  • Mentions System
  • Alerts systems for Notifications, Likes, and Mentions
  • Topic notifications can be set to Not Following, No Alerts or Email, Receive Alerts and Receive Emails and Alerts
  • Personal Messages automatically saved in sent box
  • Default theme is responsive
  • Ical calendar event export support
  • Gravatar support
Sniffing out the road ahead

Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean


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