Since my first post on this forum, I have discovered more than I ever could have on my own. I've been introduced to concepts I had never even considered, looked at problems in new ways, and learned valuable lessons on a variety of topics. Without a doubt, the HTS experience has altered my thinking in profound ways.
Not everything I have learned is life-changing, however. Some are just little tips and tricks that make a difference on the forum, and I'd like to share them with you, the new user. This is "5 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do On HTS"
5.) View New Posts
Note: To the best of my knowledge, this feature becomes available after about 25 posts. This may have changed since I got it, so I'll clarify as soon as I can.
Uncertainty aside, there is a small link near the top of the forum's main page that says "View new posts" (I've tried to link to it, although some of you may not be able to view it due to the above restrictions). This is a small link, without any decoration, so it is easy to miss if you aren't explicitly looking for it.
I've found it quite useful as a mod for catching the latest posts and making sure they are within bounds, but as a user it is just as helpful. It provides you with a way to get in on the latest topics and make yourself heard. It also allows you to check for responses in a thread if you haven't subscribed to it.
4.) Topic Review
How many times have you wanted to reply to what someone has said earlier in a thread, but you have to go back and re-read it? Instead of leaving the reply page, simply scroll down. You will find the last 10 replies in order from newest to oldest in a little box. You can expand the box out for easier reading, or keep it collapsed for neatness. This is especially helpful for when you are quoting a lot of people in a thread.
Now, if fate is just being cruel to you and you are looking for the 11th post, you can simply go back and look, and if you use the "forward" button to return to the reply screen, your post should* still be there.
*I've tested this on Windows and Linux using Firefox. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer does not preserve your post.
3.) Quick Quote
In conjunction with the previous tip, you can quick-quote people from the topic review area. Again, this small but often-overlooked feature makes searching for and quoting people a breeze.
Not specifically related to quick-quote, but equally useful, is the knowledge that you don't have to quote someone's entire post. I don't know why this is, but often times if someone wants to address a specific line of another person's post, they will quote the entire thing (often many many lines more than needed) and write a one or two-sentence response.
Please, for the sake of screen economy, go into the quote section and cut out what isn't needed.
2.) Change Hyperlink Text
All too often, I see someone post a link like this (random example):
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/20 ... 9-billion/
Mercifully, the forum system shortens that link so it doesn't take up tons of space. However in doing so, it cuts out a significant portion of the link, making it mostly unreadable. What is this link pointing to? It's difficult to guess from the abridged link alone.
Now, while it is trivial to hover over the link and look at where it points, it is even more trivial (and much more useful) to provide a short description of the link, like so:
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[url=http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/21/obama-government-contracting-reforms-will-save-19-billion/]Obama contracting reform[/url]
which appear as Obama contracting reform and http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com article respectively. This is much more legible, meaningful, and helpful to someone reading your post. It also greatly increases the chances that they will actually visit the page you link to. Very useful tool for providing cited sources in a debate.
Quite possibly my favorite button, lmgi= lets you highlight a word or phrase and create a direct link to http://www.lmgtfy.com with the selected text as the search parameter. For example, if I type:
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[lmgi=how to hack]Hacking Guide[/lmgi]
The result would be: Hacking Guide (Go ahead and click on it for the full effect)
Anything that allows me to use one-click sarcasm is a keeper. Use this feature when someone obviously has not researched a topic before asking a question about it. Be careful though; using this too much makes you look like a jerk.
I hope that with these new tips in mind, your time on the HTS forums will be an enjoyable one. Just remember that some of the most useful features are also the most often-missed. Look around, see what you can do, and then smile every time you do it. While I've only posted 5 tips here, there are many more that are waiting to be discovered by the curious user.
If you've not done so, I'd suggest also reading my Note To New Users for more general forum advice. I wrote that guide with the absolute new user in mind, but even those of you who have been here for a while may get something useful out of it.
Well, not sure what else to say except to have fun, expand your mind, and may The Source be with you!