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Publications > Dateline Houston > February 2004 > Feature Article

Volume 43, Issue 5

February 2004

Making the Most of Our STC Houston Forum

by Rebecca Taylor, Product Marketing Manager, Hewlett-Packard

The STC Houston Forum has been online for a few months and has already gained over 80 registered users. The forum is a replacement to our stchou-l discussion list, allowing easier archival and searching of posts. The stchou-l list will officially become an announcements-only list at the end of February, so now is the time to see what our Forum has to offer!

Reasons to Use the Forum

The STC Houston Forum, powered by an application called phpBB, is a powerful new communication tool. The graphical user interface makes reading, posting, and searching messages a breeze! You can send a private message to any member of the board to request clarification on a post without divulging your e-mail address to anyone. If you post a message to the board, you have the option of receiving an immediate e-mail notice when someone replies. Discussions are organized into categories, making it easier to find information.

STC Houston Forum Layout

The Forum is divided into categories: STC Houston Forum Info, Employment, Satellites and SIGs, Discussion, and Chapter Business.

The STC Houston Forum Info category contains forums about moderators, tips for using the forums, and general rules and guidelines.

The Employment category is devoted to our job and employee seekers. You'll find forums to post an opening if you're hiring and apply for jobs if you're unemployed. We also recently added a“General Employment Issues” forum for questions regarding interview etiquette, resume preparation, job resources, and anything else regarding employment.

The Satellites and SIGs category is where we connect based on our location or SIG affiliation. The Satellite forums are devoted to our satellite members in Bryan/College Station and Louisana. This is a place for them to meet and talk online, but this is also the perfect opportunity for some Houstonians to introduce themselves. We have a couple of active SIGs in Houston, which are represented on the forum. But we also have local members of our national SIGs who like to find fellow SIG members and chat amongst themselves.

The Discussions category is all about interacting. Do you have a question about how to set up image frames in FrameMaker? Repaginate a complex document in Word? Deconstruct a colleague's poorly written sentence? Or, do you have a story about your STC experience that you'd like to share in our STC@50 forum? This is where you go to mingle and talk about the issues that are important to you and other technical communicators.

Finally, our Chapter Business category covers all chapter announcements, events, and networking opportunities. If you're looking to get more involved in STC Houston, you'll find a Volunteer Opportunities forum so you can find a task that is suited perfectly to your tastes and expertise.

First Step: Register and Log In

If you haven't already logged on to the STC Houston Forum, it's easy to do! You can view all forums and postings without registering as a user, but you must be registered in order to post. This helps us reduce SPAM and inappropriate posting.

Go to the STC Houston Forum (forum.stc-houston.org) and click on the Register link near the banner at the top of the page (see Figure 1). When you register, you have several options from which to choose to protect your privacy. You can opt to display or hide your e-mail address in posts. You can also choose to include your instant message handles and personal or business URL in your user profile.

The only information that is required on the registration form is your username, password, and e-mail address (whether you choose to display it or not). You create your own username and password, so make it something that's easy to remember!

Once you have registered, log in to the forum and post to your heart's content! When you are logged in to the system, the“Log in” icon in the banner changes to say “Log out” with your username in brackets.

Getting Around the Forum

Figure 2 shows a screen shot of the STC Houston Forum. There are many things to do on the Forum, but I've highlighted 10:

1

Use this link to go back to the STC Houston home page.

2

You can search all of the forums by keyword. You can also limit your search to specific forums.

3

Use this link to Register for the STC Houston Forum.

4

Click here to log in. There's an option to "remember me" so you don't have to log in every time you visit the board from the computer. Alternatively, you can also log in at the bottom of the screen (see #9).

5

Click on "STC Houston Forum Index" to return to the forum home page. This is the fast way to get back to the top if you're done reading a thread.

6

Use this link to view all unanswered posts. This is a helpful way to make sure that everyone's inquiries are being answered. This link shows you all posts with no replies.

7

The gold cells indicate that this is a category. Categories hold forums.

8

The gray cells indicate that this is a forum. Forums hold topics or threads.

9

Use this section to log in. Alternatively, you can log in using the link at the top of the page (see #4).

10

This legend shows you the icons that indicate which forums have new posts since your last visit.

I hope this article helps you get started with our new Forum. This is an exciting opportunity to create and foster a strong online community for our chapter.

We will be adding some new features to our board, so watch the“STC Houston Forum Info” forum for updates.

Please visit the STC Houston Forum at forum.stc-houston.org. I'll see you online!


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