Friday, May 18, 2007

How To: Create and Link a Forum

A tutorial for HASA authors on how to create a story forum and link stories to forums. There are a large number of screen shots for this how to. Rather than overload the tutorial with images, I have provided links to pop open windows with the images.

  1. Log in to HASA. This will allow you to access your management screens.
  2. Click on the My Stuff menu. Locate the "Forums" link. It is the second from the last link in the menu. Image here.
  3. Go to main My Forums page. If you have existing forums, you will see a grid with them in alphabetical order. If you do not have a forum or none of the forums you already have are going to work for you, you will need to add a forum. Image here. There is an on-line tutorial to help you with creating forums. Look for the link near the text resizing links.
  4. Add a new forum (if desired). The Forums sub-menu is at the bottom of the page so you will have to scroll. Look for the "Add a Forum" link. Image here.
  5. Pick your forum options. As you can see, there are some instructions right there on screen, too. Image here.
    For best results, it is usually a good idea to:
    1. Put your name or the story name in the title of the forum.
    2. Add it to the Stories Forum
    3. Provide a descriptive introduction so people have a good idea of what they will find in the forum before they click on it.
    4. Be VERY clear if your forum is intended for discussing mature topics! Give people an opportunity to avoid topics and discussions they may find objectionable.
    5. Share or allow linking. This option will become more clear later down, but in general you should say "Yes" to linking.
    6. It is a good idea to sign yourself up for email alerts. This way, whenever a message is posted to your forum ,you get a copy in your email box.
  6. Fine tune your discussion. After you add your discussion, you will want to double check a few more details. From the grid of existing forums, click the "Manage" link. This takes you to the management screen for an individual forum. At the top is information about the forum itself, while below is a list of all the posts to the forum. For now, just click on the "Edit Discussion" link in the upper right. Image here.
  7. Set forum options. The editing screen looks very much like the add screen, except you have two more choices. Image here. They are:
    1. Active. Your forum must be active to be shared. If you need to take something out of view quickly, switch it to inactive.
    2. Open. The default for forums is Open. If you want to limit your forum to only invited readers, set it to closed, then use the "Manage Users" screen to add the desired members. In general, keep your forum open. You'll get more comments that way.
  8. Link a story. Once you have a prepared forum, you're ready to link a story. Click on the "Link Stories" link in the Forums left-hand sub menu. On that screen, you have drop downs for linking stories to forums. You can link one story to several forums and you can link one forum to several stories. Begin by selecting a story from the first menu. Image here.
  9. Link a discussion. In the next drop-down, you will see your forums at the top and then all forums available for linking below that. Why would you want to link you story to someone else's discussion? You might be working with other authors on related stories and want to reference their discussions. You might want to link to a Resource discussion, or a general discussion on a relevant topic. All you have to do is select a linkable forum from the list and click link story. Image here.
  10. You're done! You now have a forum discussion linked to your story.

How To: Find a Story Forum

1. Locate a story.
Not all stories have forums attached to them, so you may have to look at a few of them to find one. (Authors, be sure to set up forums for your readers to comment in!)

2. Forum links in overviews.
Look towards the bottom right hand area of the first table on a story overview page. The forum link will be the last one in the "Feedback" box.

3. Forum links in chapters.

Look at the left-hand navigation column. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the content in the column. If you are logged in, there will be a lot of items in the column.

4. Viewing the forum.

Once you can see the link, click it. A window will pop up showing you all discussion threads in that forum. If it is a closed discussion, you won't be able to read it. If it is open, you will be able to read, but not post.

  • Only registered HASA members can post.
  • Both Readers Club and Writers Workshop members have posting privileges.
  • You must be logged in to post or the system can't recognize you.
  • You can create new threads or reply to existing ones.

If you don't see a forum linked to a story, email the author and ask if she would be willing to create and link one.

What's the difference between a forum and a comment?

The difference between forums and comments is mostly their length.

  • A comment should be just that - a quick response to a story. You can post a public or a private comment. Since public comments automatically display on the home page, please do not put spoilers in them! Comments are not threaded or related to each other in any way. If you want to give an author a quick thumbs up, use a comment!
  • A forum is where you can post discussions. These are by nature longer and more detailed, they may contain spoilers, and you can subscribe to them to receive new posts by email. All forum posts are available to all readers, though an author can make a forum closed to allow only invited people to read them. Forum discussions are threaded to keep conversations together. If you want to get into a conversation about a story, use a forum!

Story Forums for Everyone

New today! Forums linked to stories are now available for all readers to see.

When Readers Club launched last August, 2006, the site began to split into two, with many features remaining in the old Members area. Since then, I've been slowly rebuilding parts of the site to bring these hidden areas where all members - Author/Editors or Readers - can use them, as well as showing off as much as possible to non-member readers. It is a complicated process to unearth the old code and rework it to fit into the new structure.

When HASA forums were first created, they were only available to members. Trying to sort out members from non-members, reading permissions, posting permissions and the like was a huge headache. As the site started to open up, the Forums remained tucked away down in the basement of the old Members area.

Forums existed before Comments and gave members a place to comment on each others' stories. When Comments were activated and then moved up and out to the public side, members stopped using the Forums so much. They were buried, hard to get to, and more complicated to use than Comments. However, as we've seen over the last month, there is a need for a place for threaded discussions where people can post longer messages and have better spoiler control.

Now we do. Stories can be linked to Forums (How-to posts coming up later) and these links will appear on the story overview and individual chapter pages.

  • If you are a registered member, whether Reader Club or Author/Editor, you can join the forum and post messages.
  • If you are a non-member reader, you can read all posts in open status forums, though you cannot post any replies of your own. This is in keeping with our standard site rules of no anonymous posting.

This is only the first step in freeing Forums from the basement. It will take substantially more work to migrate the entire Forum system to the public level, but it will be done. In the mean time, authors, think about linking a forum to your stories and, readers, look for forum links on the overview and chapter pages.

Happy reading and commenting!

HASA Site Manager

Friday, May 4, 2007

May 2007 Challenge Bulletin

NOTE: Please be sure you are logged in when clicking on the links.


Post your request at the Birthday Cards Forum

May 6th - River Otter: I would enjoy stories about Dol Amroth in any age.

May 25 - Dwimordene: Since I've just off-loaded a story completely populated by OCs, minus some passing references to canon characters, I'm the mood to see more OCs. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is: (1) Write me a drabble that features an OC-canon interaction, or even an entirely OC sidebar snapshot; (2) Go and bug the author of the OC you most enjoy and ask him or her if you can write a drabble featuring their character. Provide a link to their story. Think of it as your pitch to readers to go read that story.

Also, don't forget to create a story for the birthday card workshop. This serves the same purpose as the old HAWriters story and lets others put drabbles they write in an easily accessible location. Enter this story in the challenge for March birthday drabbles, so we have all of these in one place. (There are instructions on how to do all this at the top of each thread in the Birthday Cards Forum; if you need help just ask the Workshop Manager, Gwynnyd.) Any questions, contact Gandalfs Apprentice at:


If you aren't at your usual computer, you can send GA an email through HASA, too.

New Challenges

One for the hand of Beren

  • Seven Deadly Sins
    Envy, Wrath, Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, Pride, and Greed are the Seven Deadly Sins. The challenge is this: Write seven pieces of fiction, one for each of the Seven Deadly Sins, pick 1-3 characters or pairings of your choice, and include the same characters in all seven pieces.

Open Challenges

Three rings for the elven kings [Narya [fire], Nenya [water], Vilya [air]]

  1. Mortality
    Closes 21 June 07
    Lúthien, Elros and Arwen all decided to become mortal. In what way would their life be changed? How would this change affect the body and mind? Would Beren and Aragorn feel guilty?

  2. When Brothers Are Not So Close
    Closes September 1, 2007
    There are four options:
    1. Write the brothers as cool or distant
    2. An argument that needs to be resolved
    3. An AU with an outside force separating the brothers and how it might effect canon
    4. Explore the relationship outside of canon.
    You could include cousins or other people who share a brotherly bond.

  3. New Members 2006 - 2007
    Closes October 29, 2007
    This is a challenge for new members. By definition, a new member is any member who has been a member for fewer than four months or who, at the time of reading this, has written three (3) or fewer Tolkien fanfics.
    Choose one of the following - there are choices from any Age, from "The Hobbit," from "Lord of the Rings," from "The Silmarillion", from "Unfinished Tales", and three choices from the Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" - movies.

Keep a New Year's Resolution

HASA Challenges Team

Odds and Ends

  • Do you have an announcement? If you have a general announcement or piece of news that might be of interest to site readers, please send a note to the Site Manager via a contact form and let me know. Do you have a new web site, blog or LJ page? Is there a new discussion list? Did you see some interesting bit of Tolkien news you'd like to share? Send it in!
  • Beta Readers. I would like to get a once or twice a month post in news going for people requesting beta readers. The frequency will depend on the number coming in. Send in your name, a brief description of the kind of story you are writing, what kind of beta reading help you need, and if there are any restrictions or special considerations, such as dealing with adult themes, needing someone with language skills, etc.
  • Fixes to errors on the site. A few members have sent in emails alerting me to errors they have found on the site. I apologize for not getting them all corrected at once. I have a list of needed fixes, and will be able to get to work on them in a week or two.
  • Site upgrades. Starting in June, I will be working on some long-planned site upgrades. The first big project slated for work is to make the Forums available to the public for reading, and to set up Readers Club members posting privileges. Upgrades are planned for playlists, the Research Library, Challenges, Stories, and other parts of the site.
  • Site funding. The Quarter 2 funding drive broke all expectations. In addition to the astounding donations from members and readers, HASA's secret admirer has donated an entire quarter's worth of hosting costs. We are fully funded through August. I am deeply grateful for the generosity of all of our donors. Your contributions provide enjoyment for thousands of readers.
  • Site visits. Since the beginning of the year, HASA has seen a surge in site visitations. We routinely get four thousand visits a day by approximately 2300 visitors. This is due entirely to the great content on the site - stories, resources, challenges, and forums - which is provided by you. Remember - the more you post, the more you get read!

Happy reading!

HASA Site Manager