Clicking the School Forums link from your Student Information page brings you to a listing of forums titled "Grey School of Wizardry School Forums." At the upper left portion of the page above the Forum listings are some helpful links. These are:
• Student Information - This returns you to your Student Information page on the main GSW site.
• Breadcrumbs - This is a list of links that tells you where on the forums you currently are. For example, if you are in the Defense Against the Dark Arts forum it will read: Board index ‹ Great Hall ‹ School Spirit ‹ Clubs ‹ Defense Against the Dark Arts.
• Quick Navigation links - These are: View unanswered posts, View unread posts, View new posts, and View active topics.
• User Control Panel - This takes you to your personal settings.
The upper right corner also includes a short list of helpful links. These are:
• Search – The Search form allows for messages to be searched by content, by author, and by date. More on the Search form follows below.
• Blogs - This link takes you to a listing of student blogs where you can read about what your fellow students are up to.
• My Blog - This link takes you to your personal blog in the forums. You can see existing posts and write new ones.
• FAQ – This is a Frequently Asked Questions page with commonly asked questions about forums built using phpBB, the Open Source project on which the Grey School Forums are based. Most of the questions and answers directly apply to the Grey School Forums, so reading this FAQ is recommended.
• Gallery - This takes you to the forum Gallery where you can see what images have been uploaded.
• Members - This takes you to a list of forum users where you can read your fellow students' forum profiles.
• Log Out [your-user-name] – This link not only verifies the magickal name you are currently using (most helpful if you share a computer with a fellow Grey School student!), but it also will terminate your login session at the Grey School.
The Forum Indexes
Forum Indexes are columns of information about the various Forums at the Grey School. The forums are grouped by function in much the same way that realworld schools have offices, common rooms, libraries, and so forth. Within each grouping of forum topics, forums are listed in rows containing four columns.
These columns are:
• Forum – This column contains a link to either a Topic Index, or to another Forum Index. For most of these links there will also be at least a line or two of text describing the contents of the forum. Sometimes this text describes the forum link as an elaborate doorway. For entries which go to a Topic Index, there will always be at least one Moderator listed. This is the name of a staff member or student who has the ability to modify the topics and contents within that forum.
• Topics – This number is a count of how many individual topics are found within this forum and any sub-forums it may contain. These are sometimes referred to as “threads.”
• Posts – This number is a count of how many individual posts are found within the topics.
• Last Post – This shows the date stamp and author name of the most recent post made on this forum or any sub-forum it may contain. To the left of the links in each row of the Forum column is an icon. The color of this icon indicates whether there are unread topics contained within that Forum. The shape of the icon will indicate whether the link leads to a Topic Index or to another Forum Index.
Topic Indexes look a lot like Forum Indexes. Where Forum Indexes are like hallways with many doors, a Topic Index is like a large room with conversations happening all around the room. Each topic is a conversation.
Instead of being sorted into groups, topics are listed in order from newest to oldest. Moderators have the ability to mark topics as either “Announcement” or “Sticky” which causes those topics to show up in the top two sections of the Topic Index. Announcement topics show up on all Topic Index pages within their forum, while Sticky topics only show up on the first page of Topic Indexes within their forum.
Topic Indexes list five columns of information for each topic:
• Topics – This will always be a link to an individual topic, which is often called a “thread.” If there are unread posts in the topic, immediately to the left of the topic name you will see a small orange box that is a "Jump to first unread post" link. To the left of these links are icons to indicate whether or not the topic has had new posts added to it since the last time you visited the forum, and some topics have a second icon which was chosen by the person who started the topic. If there are a lot of posts in the topic, it may be divided up into multiple pages. If there are multiple pages to this topic, shortcut links to the first page and last three pages are available.
• Replies – This is a count of how many messages have been added to the topic, not counting the post which created the topic.
• Author – This is the name of the person who started the topic.
• Views – This is a count of how many times the topic title has been clicked.
• Last Post – This shows the date stamp and author name of the person who posted the most recent message in the topic.
The central area of topic pages is divided into two columns. A narrow column contains the name of the person who has written the post. It also may have in it any special title held by that author (such as 'Prefect-elect' or 'Faculty' and so forth), an avatar for the author, information about when the author joined the Grey School, which House or Lodge the author is in, as well as the author's student level. The wider column contains the message text. A line at the top of each message contains a subject header and a date stamp. At the bottom of each message may be a 'signature block' that the author set up in his or her forum profile.
A Suggested Reading Strategy
Use the “View unread posts” link to find current topics. From the search results of the “View unread posts” link, click into topics to read one and then use your browser's “Back” button to return to the search results. After doing this for a few topics, come back in through the “View unread posts” link again. Note that the list is mostly the same (though even more new topics may have shown up), and that the color of the icon for each of the topics looked at should have changed color. (Problems with the icons not setting themselves correctly are usually related to your web browser's cache.)
Topics are counted as 'read' if it has been more than two hours since the last time you have done a search to “View unread posts,” and there has been no activity in the topic during the time between the searches. For example, if there is a topic on “Moon Weasels” that shows as having unread posts in one search but for the next hour remains quiet, it will not turn up in a second search done a full hour later regardless as to whether you originally clicked into the “Moon Weasels” topic itself to read it an hour ago. If “Moon Weasels” turns out to be an important topic, any new posts made in the topic will “bump” the topic back into the 'unread' category and it will show up again the next time a “View unread posts” search is done. Sometimes an important but quiet topic will be deliberately “bumped” by the topic's author, often by a new message which says simply, “*bump!*”
The “View unread posts” link is key to keeping current on the forums. However, there is a lot to be said for simply wandering the halls and poking into interesting looking topics no matter how old they are.
Joining a User Group
Not all Forums can be viewed by all people. For example, club forums can only be viewed my club members and House or Lodge forums can only be viewed by House or Lodge members.
Note - Brand new students may not be able to find their House or Lodge right away because it can take some time for the student to be added to the hidden forum.
To request admission to your House or Lodge:
1. Click on 'Usergroups' at the top of any School Forums Index page.
2. Open the 'Non-member groups' pop-up menu and select your House or Lodge.
3. Click the “View Information” button to the right.
4. Once the information page has loaded, click on “Join this group.”
5. You will receive email when the group administrator approves your request.
Once you have been accepted into a user group, it is very likely that a new forum will be visible to you. Forum Options
The middle section of the profile contains a list of Yes/No options. Most of these are self-explanatory. Note that HTML is disallowed by the forum administrator, so the option to allow HTML is ignored regardless of its setting. Click the desired radio buttons for these options, and then click the Submit button at the bottom of the Profile page to save your option preferences.
The last section of the profile is for your forum avatar. An avatar is a small picture which appears in the upper left corner of each post you make. Avatar images must be no larger than 110 pixels wide by 110 pixels tall, and must be less than 98 kilobytes in size.
There are four different ways to apply an avatar to your profile. Choose the one option below which best fits your situation:
• If you have an image on your computer which meets the criteria for an avatar, click the Browse button at the end of the field labeled, “Upload Avatar from your machine.” After selecting the file, click the Submit button at the bottom of the Profile page to upload the image and save it as your avatar. OR:
• If you have a suitable image hosted somewhere on the web, either at your own personal website or at one of the many free image hosting sites, you may use the image URL to specify your avatar. The URL must start with “http:” and end with “.jpg” or “.gif” or “.png” to be recognized as valid. Paste the image URL into the URL field and then click the Submit button at the bottom of the Profile page to save the linked image as your avatar. OR:
• A very specialized free image host specifically designed for Avatars is the gravatar service:  and the Grey School Forums can be set up to use your gravatar. Search for “gravatar” on the Grey School Forums to learn more about how to use gravatars with the Grey School Forums. OR:
• An easy way to start using an Avatar right away is to choose one from the Gallery. Click on the “Show gallery” button to display the gallery. Choose a category and then click on the “Go” button to see the avatar choices. Note that the category titled, “Prefects_Captains” contains avatars reserved for those holding the named office, so do not choose one of these unless you are a Prefect or a Captain! The “Departments” category includes symbols for each of the 16 departments at the Grey School. The “Houses_Lodges” category includes the shields for each House and Lodge. The “Miscellaneous” category includes the Penkhaduce symbol and a few others. To use an avatar from the Gallery, click the radio button underneath the desired avatar and then click “Select Avatar.” Once back on the Profile page, be sure to then click on the Submit button to save the change.
If you have problems with using an avatar, search the forums for the key words “profile AND avatar” to find topics related to using profile avatars.