HOWTO: Use the Discourse Server
Welcome to Discourse, the message board / email list(s) for the Association!
For many years, the CELUG organization made use of a mailman list manager for communications. This was great, because everyone lived in their email clients and it was easy to send and receive messages to the group.
However, the principle drawback of this was that if you deleted an email or joined the list after a particularly informative message, you were pretty much out of luck and had to ask again. While archives exist, they are not particularly searchable. More recently, we discovered you can send no more than 500 messages per hour, which sounds like a lot, but our membership has grown and all it takes is a few “reply all’s” to a message and we’ve hit a limit!
Enter Discourse, the Discussion Board employed the the Association. Discourse has several benefits over old-school mailman:
- Discussions get logged to a database and are searchable
- After signing up, you don’t need to go back to the site if you don’t want to. You will receive emails in the email account you used to register as new topics arrive and can start new topics by subject area by sending new emails to the topic area email list.
- There is a “social” aspect to topics. You can “like” topics or report abuses to moderators to take action.
- Discourse has a concept of trust levels. The more you participate in the Community, the greater your trust score.
- There are access controls as to who can see certain topic areas, create new topics or respond.
- As we identify new topic areas, new Categories can be created
Let’s get started with how to use the Association Discourse server!
First, navigate to the homepage, https://discourse.hpcpros.org . You’ll see the “Sign Up” button in the upper right corner:
After clicking “Sign Up”, you’ll see the following prompt. We recommend using an email address you will monitor during the day so as not to miss any of the discussion.
You will next receive an email at the account you registered confirming that you own that email address. It will look something like this:
From: The Association of High Performance Computing Professionals <email@example.com>
Reply-To: The Association of High Performance Computing Professionals <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, April 30, 2018 at 1:14 PM
To: Your Account <email@example.com>
Subject: [HPC Professionals] Confirm your new account
Welcome to The Association of High Performance Computing Professionals!
Click the following link to confirm and activate your new account:
If the above link is not clickable, try copying and pasting it into the address bar of your web browser.
Click on the link, and your account will become active. That’s it!
How to set your user preferences:
In the upper right, click on your initial to reveal the options to get to preferences:
Click on the little wheel to access your Preferences, and you’ll see this:
As you can see, lots of things you can do in here to customize your account, including adding a profile picture or even enabling two factor authentication. If you click on the “Profile” link on the left, you can do useful things like provide a Bio, Location and web site.
Setting your email preferences
Select “email” on the left hand side, and you’ll see the following:
This is where you can customize how often and how many emails you receive from the system. If you don’t want to receive emails for every post that comes in, you can disable “Enable mailing list mode” and rely instead on the digest function (Activity Summary). The bottom line is that you are in control of how often you see emails. You can see things in “real time” as they come in, or you can disable altogether and simply use the web site by itself.
Changing per category settings
Maybe you want to see everything for Licensing and Grid Computing, but you would prefer not to see as much for other categories. You can customize how often you receive updates per category.
First, go to the homepage and click on the category for which you are interested in changing communication preferences, let’s say Security. Click on the “O” icon on the far right of the screen:
This will let you change communication preferences for the Category:
You can filter emails easily based on the subject line of the emails. All emails from the Association Discourse Server begin with [HPC Pros], followed by [Category]. At the time of this writing, [Category] could be one of [Grid Computing], [Storage], [Licensing], [Security] or [Cloud].
Now that you’ve set up your email preferences, let’s take a look at interacting with topic areas.
Creating a new topic on the website
This is pretty easy. Simply go to the homepage, click on the topic area you want, say Grid Computing, and you’ll see the listing of all topics in that category. If you want to create a new topic, just select the “New Topic” button on the upper right. You can use Markdown, BBCode or HTML to format your message. You can even drag and drop in pictures if you want. Here’s what you’ll see:
On the left you have the editing area, where you will type in your text or formatting code. On the right is the preview pane, which shows how your post will look once you hit submit. As you can see, I dragged and dropped a picture into the editing area, and the preview area is dutifully showing how it will look once you submit the topic.
Submitting a new topic via email
If you prefer to submit a new topic via email and not having to go to the web interface you can do that as well. You must submit the email from the email address you have registered with the site. Simply send your email to one of the following addresses per category:
(The above is a picture, specifically to prevent bots from flooding the server with unnecessary spam).
If you have feedback on this article, or on Discourse in particular, after you join the Discourse server you can submit feedback into the Feedback category or you can send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Likes, Bookmarks and Solutions
Find something that you found useful and want to make sure that it bubbles up in search results or you just want to express appreciation to the poster? No problem, just hit the little Heart icon at the bottom of that post and you’ve “liked” it.
Found a topic that you want to be able to come back to quickly and easily without having to search for it again? Not a problem. Just scroll down to the bottom of the topic and hit the bookmark button:
If someone has replied with the solution to your original topic, you can mark that reply as a solution. Simply select the “…” at the bottom of the post to See More, and then you can mark it as a solution.
This helps the community quickly find the answers to problems someone else has already solved.