Bulletin Board Administration

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Bulletin Boards

Bulletin boards are the heart of the Arsdigita Community System. Any community revolves around its central meeting ground where people can discuss and share ideas. In the Arsdigita Community System, this meeting ground is principally a the bulletin board forum.

The bulletin board module is one of the most complex in the Community System, because the bulletin boards themselves are versatile and configurable. Each bulletin board can be configured to appear in one of four different formats: Threaded, Question and Answer, Editorial or Geospatialized. In addition, there is support to categorize messages and to rate them according to interest level. The users, too, are given plenty of options: they can search through all the messages, look for unanswered questions, look for the questions new since their last visit, and register to get email alerts on subjects of interest to them.

At the right we see a (slightly fictionalized) picture of the top page of an active forum in photo.net, a web site that supports a community of photographers. (This picture has been altered: in reality a forum as active as this one would have many more new messages and categories. I edited it for presentation purposes; if you wish you can go see the real thing)

Here are some comments by the author of this software on the advantages of having an integrated bulletin board system :

Philip Greenspun's Comments on his Bulletin Board Software

The Internet is not starved for discussion software. The 20-year-old USENET (Net News) system alone has more than 50,000 active forums. There are some shallow reasons why you might want to [have] a database-backed bboard system: The deep reason to run a db-backed bboard system is that the user [information] in your RDBMS is your lifeblood. Level and nature of activity in discussion groups are two of the most important things that you can ask about a Web community member. You want to be able to ask "show me users who've submitted questions that were deleted by the moderator as redundant" (so that you can have the server welcome them back with a page explaining how to search and browse archived threads). You want to be able to ask "show me users who've submitted answers that were deemed definitive by the moderators" (so that you can consider promoting them to co-moderator status). When Reader X is looking at Reader Y's comment on one of your static pages, he ought to be able to say "Please show me Reader Y's history as a community member" and see forum contributions.

Philip's Sentiments in Action

Here we can see Philip's vision in the flesh, as it were. If a user wants to find out about this "Danny Burk" guy, the reader who is so concerned about insect levels in Wisconsin, he can find this page of summary of Danny's activity in the community. We can see that he is recently arrived, and that he has only made one posting. However, he is probably a genuine photography enthusiast, given his email address includes "foto." Also, his two posts are his activities in only five days of being a community member, so he may become quite an active participant given more time. A similar page for an older member of the community often shows a diverse range of activities. For instance, Philip Greenspun's community summary page shows that he has submitted a large number of forum postings, page comments and related links. One might suppose he has been active in this community for a while...

Bulletin Board Administration

Since this system is so configurable, there are a wide variety of things an administrator can do, and the range of possibilities can seem confusing. However, it really is simple and clearly laid out. To make sense of the possible administration tasks, it is useful to separate the configuration tasks, which are done rarely, from the maintenance tasks, which are done often. Maintenance of a bulletin board has been made into a simple and streamlined process. Setting up and configuring a bulletin board in the first place can be more complicated, but these tasks are reasonably well explained on the administration pages themselves. They aren't too hard with a little bit of understanding of the system. This document will explain the effects of the various configuration options.

So, to begin, there are four types of configuration actions that it takes to set up a new bulletin board:

First, there are some simple things you have to do to get it started. You must:

Second, you have to choose what kind of structure you wish your new bulletin board to have. You must: Third, you can also choose to activate some other useful features, for which you can: Fourth, you can make some choices about how you wish the page to look. To do this you can: This seems like a large number of tasks! However, most of them require making simple choices about how you wish your bboard to work. They are quick and easy to make if you have an idea of what the choices are and of what you want. Hopefully this document can solve the first problem and give you some help with the second.

Most of the work of administering a bulletin board is actually taken up by maintenance tasks. There are two kinds of maintenance tasks. First, there are the top-level tasks of activating and deactivating bulletin boards and managing administrators. These tasks are called "Hyper-Administration." Second, there is the daily problem of moderating the community -- finding, classifying, and deleting postings so you can provide the users with the level of discussion that you wish them to see. Since these tasks are done often, they been simplified and streamlined. All the maintenance actions for a question and answer thread can be accomplished on a single page, and there are many ways to search through the Q&A forum and to find the thread you wish to administer.

So the two categories of maintenance tasks can be summarized as follows:

For hyper-administration, you can:

For ordinary administration, you can: In addition, there is one task that doesn't fit into any of these categories. The software allows you to find active community members by allowing you search for all readers who have posted more than a certain number of times between any two dates you choose.

Navigation in the Bulletin Board Administration Section

Since there are so many different things we can do in the bulletin board administration section, it can seem a daunting job to find the page on which we can do a given task. However, with a little understanding of the organization of the section, finding the right page can become easy. We are likely to be wanting to do one of three kinds of things: adding or configuring a new bulletin board, moderating a discussion, or performing hyper-administration, i.e managing administrators and bulletin boards. This section will explain how to find your way to do each of these categories of tasks.

Over the last couple of pages, we can see examples of each of the top level pages of the system. At the beginning of the Bulletin Board Administration page, we can see the Bulletin Board Hyper-Administration page for photo.net. Each topic links to a One Bboard page -- for example, above we see the hyper-administration page for the "Nature Photography" topic. Each hyper-administration page links to a Regular Administration page. Above we see the top of the regular administration page for the "photo.net" discussion forum, and to the left we see a (somewhat altered) view of the whole page. This regular administration page contains all the options necessary to configure a bulletin board, and the real version also contains explanations of each of the options. I deleted the explanations from the image at the left so that the image would be small enough to fit on a page; the explanations will be reproduced below. Finally, the "daily tasks" section of the the Regular Administration page links to the main moderation section which begins with a Administer Forum by question page. This page is shown above as it appears for the "NE43 Memory Project" forum. Within the main moderation section, most of the links lead, in various ways, to the main management page for a question. This is where one can actually read and moderate the questions and answers. The rest of the moderation section is devoted to providing many different ways to browse through the questions and find this page for the question you wish to manage.

Here is a short outline of the top-level page flow of this section:

Top Level: Bulletin Board Hyper-Administration
Lists all Bulletin Board Topics (Active and Inactive). Links to:

  1. Activation Toggle for Topics.
  2. One Bboard -- Manage a single bboard.
    1. Regular Administration.
      1. Administration Page for Daily Tasks
        1. Threads
        2. Q&A/Editorial -- Administer Forum by question
        3. US Geospatial
      2. Community -- View Readers.
      3. Configuration Options
    2. Maintain Administrators.
  3. Add a New Topic
So now we can ask: given a kind of task, where should we look? Here is a key to find the place to look for a given task. If you wish to:
Add a new bulletin board forum:
Look at the bottom of the Bulletin Board Hyper-Administration page for the Add a New Topic link.
Reconfigure an existing bulletin board:
From the top Hyper-Administration page, pick the forum you wish to administer, and then follow the link on the One Bboard page to the Regular Administration page. All but the very top few sections of this page are devoted to this purpose.
Manage the administrators of a forum:
From the top Hyper-Administration page, pick the forum you wish to administer,then look at the bottom of the One Bboard page for the link to Maintain Adminstrators.
Find active community members:
From the top Hyper-Administration page, pick the forum you care about, and then follow the link on the One Bboard page to the Regular Administration page. The Community section of this page allows you to search for readers who have posted recently or often.
Manage Postings in a bulletin board:
First -- a bit of advice: the moderation interface for the Question and Answer forum is so much more developed than that of the threads interface, that even if you are managing a thread-based forum, it is worthwhile to use the Q&A interface to moderate it. You can find the moderation pages as follows: From the top Hyper-Administration page, pick the forum you wish to administer, and then follow the link on the One Bboard page to the Regular Administration page. Then, under Daily Tasks, choose to "visit the admistration page" using the Q&A/Editorial link. This will get you to the Administer Forum by question page. Navigation from this point on is discusses in further detail in the Managing A Bulletin Board section.

Setting up a Bulletin Board

In this section and the next few following it I will explain the various kinds of tasks an administrator in detail. The first and perhaps most complicated task is to set up a bulletin board. Above you can see a (very small) image of the page on which you can set all the configuration options for a bulletin board. Since Philip has been allowing other web publishers to publish and administrate bulletin boards on his server for some time, the configuration page for a bulletin board contains quite a bit of explanation on the page (which I deleted from the in the image to make is short enough to fit on the page). I will go through each of these options now in detail, including Philip's explanation and some of my own. I have divided the configuration options into three categories: configuring the structure of the bulletin board, activating extra features, and controlling the appearance of the pages. We will go through each of these categories in turn.

Configuring the Structure of Your Bulletin Board

Choosing a Presentation Type
[The most important decision to make about a new bulletin board is what presentation type you wish it to have. Here are Philip's comments from the page itself about this option:

Presentation Type

You have to choose whether or not this is primarily a Q&A forum, a threads-based discussion group, or an editorial stlye. The user interfaces interoperate, i.e., a posting made a user in the Q&A interface will be seen in the threads interface and vice versa. But my software still needs to know whether this is primarily threads, Q&A or editorial. For example, if a user signs up for email alerts, this program will send out email saying "come back to the forum at http://...". The "come back URL" is different for Q&A and threads.
(note: I personally greatly prefer the Q&A interface; if people liked threads, they'd have stuck with USENET.)
At the left we can see an example of a standard page from a Question and Answer Forum, and above we can see the same forum displayed using a threads interface. Both these examples are from the NE43 Memory Project Forum. You can see from this examples what Philip means when he says "the user interfaces interoperate." All the messages in this forum were submitted by users viewing the forum using the Question and Answer interface, and yet it can be made to look like a quite normal threads-based discussion. The postings that were entered using the "Contribute an Answer" button on the page devoted to the question "The Dover" by Philip Greenspun, are given thread-title "Response to The Dover" automatically by the software. Thus they appear as normal-looking threads in a threads interface. If we were going the other way, a message in a threads-based forum that illicited a number of reponses would appear in the Q&A forum as a question with all the responses listed below as answers (this would flatten any hierarchy that existed in the responses).

The advantage of the threads interface is that you can look at a summary of all the postings on one screen, with the downside that you can only look at one message at a time. By comparison, the advantage of the Q&A format is that you can look at a whole thread on one screen, with the downside that you have to click back to another page to get the summary of the whole forum. Philip greatly prefers the Q&A forum format, and I am inclined to agree. Since postings are often short, it is a great advantage to have a whole topic on a single page. This advantage far outweighs the disadvantage that less summary information is avaliable on the postings. Usually the list of questions is informative enough. In fact, it is often more informative, because thread summaries are often redundant and silly (they can be taken up by long lists of message titles like "Re:I'm confused" and other such uninformative matter). People asking a question usually put some effort into choosing a question title that is at least a little bit useful to the reader.

There is a slight variation availiable on the Question and Answer Format: if your "questions" are likely to be long essays for which you wish to garner reader responses, but you don't want new readers to be too distracted by old responses, then the Editorial format might be appropriate. The Editorial format emphasises the "question" and makes the answers avaliable through a "View Commentary" link. At the right we see an example from Cognet, a site for a community of cognitive scientists set up by the MIT press. This editorial is introduced on the same page as follows:

This is HotScience, CogNet's monthly interactive editorial.

HotScience promotes critical discussion about issues in the cognitive and brain sciences. Each month, invited contributors share a somewhat controversial take on their current research

Post a response to this months editorial by clicking on the "View Commentary" link.

Thus we see an example of the kind of service for which the Editorial format is appropriate: the Cognet site wants to show off reports from prominant researchers; they want to emphasize the review, while still making the commentary avaliable to readers who care.

There is one more presentation type avaliable for special applications: the bulletin board can be organized by geographical region. This makes it possible for bulletin board users to discuss issues relevant to their local community with other users from the same area. A prime example of this organization can be seen on the site www.scorecard.org, a site built by the Environmental Protection Agency to alert readers to the effects of pollution in their area and to provide them the means to organize a community response.

Here is an excerpt from a letter by the director of the Environmental Defense Fund about the purpose and success of Scorecard:

Dear Scorecard User,
When we first launched Scorecard in April 1998, we had no way to know whether or not this would be a popular website. After 24 hours and a million attempted "hits" we had our answer.
Scorecard's most popular feature is its "type in your zip code" approach to finding local information about local environmental conditions and problems. The site's interactive maps, which let you click down to a local neighborhood in a second or two, are another popular pathway. Our goal is to make the local environment as easy to check on as the local weather.
We see above the page in Scorecard which introduces the community discussion forums. Readers types in their zip code and gets directed to the discussion forum for their local community. Thus, if a reader of scorecard becomes outraged about local pollution conditions, he can use this forum to contact other people in his local community who are concerned about the same issues. To the right we can see the results of this search: some readers from Middlesex county have started a discussion of the pollution event that inspired the movie A Civil Action.

To sum up, the US Geospatial presentation type is the option to choose if you want to organize a community discussion that centers around issues important to a local geographical area. Perhaps it is the best way to get virtual communities to organize and galvanize the action of old-fashioned neighborhood communities.

Decide whether you want Categorization.
The next structural issue you have to decide is whether you wish your bulletin board to be categorized. At the left we see a small forum that does not have categories. There aren't enough messages for users to have difficulty finding the one they want. However, the Nature Photography forum shown at the beginning of this document is much larger; if we attempted to list all the messages on the front page in this way, it would be impossibly long and no one could find anything. To deal with forums like these, the administrator is given the option to add categories. For instance the Nature Photography forum has set up categories like "Equipment" and "Ethics." Thus, if in a few days the user is looking for the posting about blackflies in Wisconsin, he probably only has to search through all the postings in the "Locations" section and can ignore all the posts from, say, "Ethics". Philip Greenspun believes strongly that providing categories is one of the best ways to make information easily locatable; much better than relying on search capabilities. Therefore he has made a categorization system central to the design of his bulletin board module.

Here are Philip's comments from the bulletin board configuration page about the various choices an administrator has when deciding whether to set up categories:


After a Q&A forum has collected a few thousand messages, it becomes tough for users to find archived threads, even when the software is running on a server with a full-text search engine. Categorization lets you support browsing as well as searching. As the administrator, you are always able to recategorize messages and define new categories. If you want less work and don't mind a little chaos, then you can allow users to categorize their own questions (they get a select menu when they post a new question). If you don't mind a lot of chaos, you can allow users to define new categories.
Present Categorized? Yes No
Ask User to Categorize? Yes No
Allow Users to Add New Categories? Yes No
If you allow users to enter categories, they will be given a menu of categories when they post a new message. Here is the menu shown to users posting in the Nature Photography Forum shown at right:
(this helps build the FAQ archives)
The software also needs to know how old a message has to be before it is no longer considered "New", and how to format the presentation of these messages. Here are the directions for these options:
Remember that new questions will always be presented on top for however many days you specify, even if they are categorized. After the "days considered new" period has lapsed, a question will show up underneath a category heading.
Days Considered New:
If your forum becomes extremely popular, you might want to trim down the top-level page so that it shows only the subject lines for new messages. For older messages, all you see are the category names and a count of how many messages are in that category.
Show only the categories (and a count) on the top level page? Yes No
Note: all the categorization stuff is ignored in the threads (frames) interface.
Decide whether you want an Interest Level System
Another structural feature you can add to your Bulletin Board is an Interest Level System. The comments Philip includes on the configuration page describe this option fairly completely:

Interest Level

After a Q&A forum has collected a few tens of thousands of messages, it becomes tough for users to find interesting threads, even when you have categorization turned on. For example, in my photo.net forum someone asked what the "QC" meant in a Nikon 135 QC lens, which was manufactured in the early 1970s. I don't want to delete it, because someone three years from now might search for "Nikon QC" and find it useful. But I don't want it cluttering up my Nikon category where the majority of readers are using modern equipment.
So I enabled my interest level system. As the administrator, you can rate things on a scale from 0 to 10. Anything 3 or below is deemed "uninteresting" and separated from the other threads in a category. In the long run, I'll probably add an option for users to see the threads that the administrator has specifically marked interesting (8 or higher?). Remember that you don't have to mark each thread. Threads without a number are still considered "interesting".

Use Interest Level System? Yes No

Above you can see a page in a bulletin board with an interest level system activated. A few threads have been marked uninteresting and are displayedd in a separate section (note: this page has been edited to make it short enough to display. A real forum with enough threads that the administrator has bothered to add an interest level system is almost always much longer than this.)

Other Features You Can Activate

This feature is very simple: you can ask the system to send you email whenever a user posts in your forum. Alternately, if your forum is active, you will probably be overwhelmed with email and wish to turn off the alerts. Here is the directions Philip gives for this option:


If your forum is inactive, you'll probably want this system to send you email every time someone adds a posting of any kind (new top-level question or reply). If you're getting 50 new postings/day then you'll probably want to disable this feature
Notify me of all new postings? Yes No
File/Image Uploading
As you can see in the example of a post from the photo.net Q&A forum shown to the right, sometimes one might wish to have the possibility of allowing users to include images with posts. As Philip pointed out in his post, digital image capabilities are becoming more and more ubiqutous. It is simple to add image loading capability: here is a reproduction of the directions from the File/Image Uploading section of the configuration options:

File/Image Uploading

The server is configured to permit user uploads of images and other files. Essentially a user can attach an arbitrary file to a message or, in the case of an image, have it displayed in-line with the message.
Types of files you anticipate:
If you choose to enable image or file loading, the user will be presented with a box like the one shown at left when he or she is making a posting. (Note: this box does not show up on the original page which contains forms for entering a a new post, but instead is displayed on the page which asks the user to preview and confirm his posting. I do not know why it is set up this way; users may ask where the image loading options are, since they don't see them on the first posting page.)
Another feature you can activate is a filter for certain words in postings. Philip uses this feature in his forum to filter out egregious misspellings of common photography words. I think it is terribly amusing to get literate and sarcastic error messages like the one shown below. However, this may not be the kind of user experience every site administrator wishes to foster. Probably a more gentle administrator could use the filter function to warn people away from using unpleasant or offending language. It can has been used to warn people away from using phrases like "any good" that signal a less-than-useful question. Here are the instructions that are given for this feature in photo.net:

Bozo Filters

You can instruct this system to automatically reject postings that match certain patterns. For example, at photo.net we want to refuse postings that contain the string "aperature". Invariably, people who can't spell "aperture" turn out to be idiots.
If you follow the links you will see the results almost as they appear on the real admin pages (only a few of the actions are disabled).
Can Users Initiate Threads?
Another strange feature bulletin board administrators have been known to ask for is a bulletin board in which users cannot initiate new threads. Thus this is a configuration option for the bulletin board. Here are the instructions given for this feature:

Weird stuff

This is a section of parameters for people who are using my software in unintended ways (i.e., not really as a forum at all). For example, someone wanted to put up a service with a fixed set of threads, e.g., one for each U.S. state. Users would be free to add any message they wanted underneath any of the threads set up by the administrator (oh yes, this works by removing the Ask a Question link from the top level page).
Allow Users to initiate threads? Yes No

I have never actually seen a bulletin board in use that was configured this way, but I made a new bulletin board to see the effects of this option. At left you can see the top of the front page of this fake forum. If you compare this with the top of the Nature Photography forum shown earlier, you can see that the Ask a Question link is indeed missing, as Philip said. Also, the "About" link is also missing; we will discuss this link in the next section, for it is part of the configurable appearance of a bulletin board forum.

Configuring the Appearance of Your Bulletin Board

Finally we come to the last set of options: the options that control the appearance of a bulletin board. There are a number of titles and messages that appear in a bulletin board that an administrator might wish to configure. First, the bar right under the main title any page often has a "backlink" to the home page of the system. Second, the message line summaries for postings can optionally have appended at the end the name or email of the user making the posting or the date of the posting. Third, the bar shown above in my Fixed Thread Forum (or any forum) can have an About link that links to a policy statement for that bulletin board. Finally, one can write a message to warn users away from making stupid or superfluitous postings.
Choose a Backlink and Backlink Title
Historically, every page in Philip's web sites has had a backlink that points a user to the front page of the module of which the page is a part. A system for consistent backlinks are very important on the web, because users can easily dumped onto some page deep into the system by a search engine. If they cannot find a way to get up to the top level easily and quickly, they probably will get frustrated and quit the site in disgust. If you look back at the images of the pages from various forums, you will see backlinks on every one. For instance, the "Problem With Your Input" page above has underneath the title the phrase "to photo.net". This is the kind of backlink Philip is talking about. (However, you may note that there is a different style of backlink on some of the pages, more like a Yahoo-style navigation bar, that shows the whole sequence of pages that lead to this page. This is a new feature on some of Philip's pages and it may eventually make the old style obselete. ??I do not know what will happen to this option if the new style is adopted everywhere). Here is the explanation on the configuration page of this option:

How this BBoard is presented to users

Remember that although this bboard runs from a purpose-built DB-backed Web server, it is designed to look like it is part of the original static Web service. The pages will be displayed with your email address at the bottom, and a link back to your static server. (If you want more customization, you'll just have to read Philip Greenspun's book on Web service design).

The most important thing is the backlink URL, i.e., the URL for your server. This will be offered by my server as a link back to you. Make sure you have the full "http://" in front, e.g., "http://gardenhosestoday.com".


You probably don't want the Q&A forum page saying "this is associated with http://complicated-domain.com/bunch-of-dirs/foobar.html". So put in a title for the above URL, e.g., "Garden Hose Magazine".

Backlink Title:

Decide how you wish Threads to be Presented
As you can see in the "Nature Photography" forum example given at the beginning of this document, the one-line summary of messages can optionally include the name of the user who made the posting appended afterward in parenthesis. This is how we knew that it was Danny Burk who was concerned about blackflies in Wisconsin. The administrator can also choose to have the email address, or date appended after the posting. Here is how this option is presented on the configuration page:

How Threads are Presented

Whenever postings are displayed in a "one line summary" form, you can choose to have this server add email address, name, and/or posting date to each line in the summary.

Subject Line Suffix:
(legal values are blank, "name", "email", "date", separated by spaces)

Q&A threads are presented as a list. You can choose either

Oldest on top Newest on top

Post a Policy Message
This option is fairly simple. If you wish you can ask the bboard to display an About link that will display the policy statement entered here:


If you choose, you can explain to users what this forum is supposed to be for. An "About" link will be added to the top level page. For example, if you're using this software for tech support, you could say "You can expect a response within 24 hours from one of the following people:". If you're running a contest (see below) then you could use this message to explain how frequently winners are chosen and what are the possible prizes.

Post a Message to Discourage Users from Posting
Before a user makes a posting they will automatically get offered an option to search the forum. Perhaps you might wish a stronger hint that they should think before posting:

Discouraging Users from Posting

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. When your site is young, you'll be eager for all kinds of posts (at least I was). But after 100,000 messages, you'll get sick of repeats. So you can put in a little canned message encouraging users to check your site's static content and/or a search engine before posting a question. Note that if this system is running on a machine with a full-text search engine installed as part of the RDBMS then a "search the forum" link is offered by default to everyone.

Managing a Bulletin Board

Though configuring a forum is probably the most complicated task, moderating the forum is the one that takes the most effort. As a result, the moderation section has been streamlined for ease of use. All the moderation actions for a thread can be accomplished on a single page, and there are many path provided to search through the forum for the thread you want.

Searching through the Threads

If you are trying to moderate a forum, you probably wish to find a particular thread to manage or perhaps you wish to browse using some kind of search strategy (looking for new postings? postings on a particular subject? postings by a particular author? or something like that). There are a number of different paths through the moderation subsection that all lead to the Main Management Page for A Question. Below we see an example of this page from the photo.net Question and Answer Forum (it has been split in two pieces so it would fit easily on the page). Which path you choose depends on your search strategy -- there are number avaliable. We can see many of the search links avaliable on the top level page of the moderation section, the Administer Forum by question page, shown to the right for the Lab for Computer Science Memory Project forum. As you can see on that page, there are a number of different links which offer to display various groupings of questions. All the standard links that appear on the user level pages for Searching, Viewing New Answers and Unanswered Questions are present, as well as a new set of links under the heading "Other Groups of Questions." There are also links on the Main Management Page for A Question that will display useful groupings of questions -- the name and IP address underneath a posting link to all the postings by the user of that name and from that IP address, respectively. So there are quite a number of different ways to browse or search through the all the questions in the moderation section. Here I list a summary outline of this subsection which shows the organization of the various links that will allow you to search through the all the questions in the forum:

Page flow for Administration Q&A Format
Top Level:Administer Forum by question

  1. Standard Links for a Q&A Forum
    1. Search for Question by Keyword
    2. View all Unanswered Questions
    3. View all New Answers
  2. Main Management Page for A Question
    1. View all Postings by this Author
    2. View all Postings from this IP address
  3. View All the Questions
  4. View Questions by Category
  5. View New Posts Sorted by Time Rather than by Thread

If you have a search strategy in mind, here is a key to finding the right link:

Search by Keyword
Browse Unanswered Question
Browse Answers New since your Last Visit
All these can be found in a list of links right under the first horizontal rule on the Administer Forum by question page.
Browse All the Questions
Browse Answers New since your last visit sorted chronologically
These links can be found at the bottom of the Administer Forum by question page.
Browse Questions in a particular Category
Follow the Pick A Category link at the bottom of the Administer Forum by question page, and you will be shown a list of categories. Pick the category you want.
Browse Questions by Author
To do this, I think you need to find one post by that author to start. Then, on the Main Management Page for the Question page, the name of the author after each post is a link to all the posts by that author. I think this is usually used to bulk-delete all the posts of a particularly annoying author.
Browse Questions by IP address
This option exists to allow one to bulk-delete all posts from a user who is obnoxious enough to require tracking by IP address rather than user name. On the Main Management Page for a Question there is a link from the origination IP address of each posting to a page that lists all postings from that IP address.

Managing a Thread

Above to the right and below we see the two halves of the Main Management Page for A Question. This is a long page which allows the administrator to do all the possible tweaking he might wish to clean up a thread. The administrator can edit all the postings and the thread title as well. He can delete anything, including the entire thread, and there are handy buttons for quick bulk deletion. The links below the posts to the name and IP address link to a list of all the postings from that user and that IP address respectively. Thus, if a posting is particularly horrifyingly objectionable, the administrator can quickly check all other postings from the same individual or location, and perhaps cut out the cancer at its source. In addition to editing and deleting threads, the administrator can choose to set the interest level, or the number of days until expiration of thread. As we saw before, a thread with a interest level set below "3" will be displayed on the thread summary page sequestered in a special section called "Uninteresting Threads."
Finally, the administrator can choose to recategorize threads using the category select box and the Set Category submit button. This select box from the Nature Photography Forum is reproduced above. Notice that one of the options in the select box is "Define New Category." Thus if none of the categories seem appropriate for the post in question, you can always choose to define a new one.

Complete Page Flow of the Bulletin Board Administration Section

Finally, for completeness, we list here an outline summary of the page flow of this section. I have split apart the outline for the main section and for the moderation subsections, because otherwise it would have gone too many levels deep. Of course, this outline is slightly fictionalized, because a web site is more interconnected than any outline can convey. In particular, the moderation section has many paths that led to the main thread management page, and I only listed one of them. The short outlines given above contain links to images of the page in question, but I left those links out here because they are slightly distracting.

Top Level: Bulletin Board Administration Home
Lists all Bulletin Board Topics (Active and Inactive). Links to:

  1. Activation Toggle for Topics.
  2. One Bboard -- Manage a single bboard.
    1. Regular Administration.
      1. Administration Page for Daily Tasks
        1. Threads
        2. Q&A/Editorial
        3. US Geospatial
        4. Look at expired threads (a Q&A only thing)
      2. Community -- View Readers.
        1. Report Page for all Postings by One User
          1. Thread management page.
          2. Delete Marked Messages.
        2. Send Mail To These Readers.
        3. Pick N Readers At Random.
      3. Bozo Filters
        1. Add Pattern.
        2. Edit Pattern.
        3. Delete Pattern.
      4. How this BBoard is presented to users
        1. Enter Backlink.
        2. Enter Backlink Title.
      5. Presentation Type
        1. Choose threads, Q&A, Editorial, or US Geospatial
      6. How Threads are Presented
        1. Choose Subject Line Suffix
        2. Choose oldest-on-top/newest-on-top
      7. Categorization
        1. Present Categorized?
        2. Ask User to Categorize?
        3. Allow User to Add New Categories?
        4. Days Considered New.
      8. Interest Level
        1. Use Interest Level System?
      9. Policy
        1. Enter Policy Statement
      10. Discourage Users from Posting
        1. Enter Discouraging Message
      11. Notification
        1. Notify me of all new postings?
      12. Wierd stuff
        1. Allow Users to initiate threads?
      13. File/Image Uploading
        1. Choose the type of file.
    2. Maintain Administrators.
      1. View Community History of an Administrator
      2. Remove an Administrator
      3. Choose a Member to Add as an Administrator
  3. Add a New Topic
      1. Choose a Member to Add as an Administrator
This whole section links from the entry II.A.1.b One Bboard: Regular Administration: Daily Tasks: Q&A/Editorial in the outline above.

Page flow for Administration Q&A Format
Top Level:Administer Forum by question

  1. Return to Admin Home
  2. Standard Links for a Q&A Forum
    1. Post a New Question
    2. Search
    3. Unanswered Questions
    4. New Answers
    5. About

    For Each Question:

  3. Main Management Page for Each Question
    1. Edit Thread Title
    3. Set Interest Level
    4. Set Number of Days til Expiration
    5. Set Category

      For Each Message:

    6. Delete Message
    7. Edit Message
    8. View all Postings by this Author
      1. View Main Management Page for this Post's Question
      2. Mark Post for Bulk Deletion
      3. Bulk Delete
    9. View all Postings from this IP address
      1. View Main Management Page for this Post's Question
      2. Email Author of Post
      3. Mark Post for Bulk Deletion
      4. Bulk Delete
    10. Mark For Bulk Delete

      Again Globally:

    11. Contribute Answer
    12. Delete Marked Messages
  4. Email Author of Question

    Again Globally:

  5. View All the Questions
  6. View Questions by Category
  7. View New Posts Sorted by Time Rather than by Thread

This whole section links from the entry II.A.1.a One Bboard: Regular Administration: Daily Tasks: Threads in the outline above. As I mentioned before, the Threads administration interface is much less developed that the Q&A interface.

Page flow for Administration Threads Format
Top Level:Delete and View Threads for Forum

  1. Return to Admin Home
  2. Delete Thread
  3. Edit Thread