Explore as a Forum Guest

People are afraid of commitment, I get that. (That’s one reason I don’t have a tattoo. I mean, what if I had gotten a Nickelback lyric on my forearm. Imagine the fallout, ostracization, and horror years later.) Fortunately, unlike most social media platforms that require registering to view anything, our forums are open to all. If you just want to browse and poke around (aka, lurk), hoovering up valuable MS information, have at it. Indeed, many prefer that route. So if you prefer to get your feet wet this way, I’m cool with that.

Register as a Forum Member

Membership has its privileges…. Forum members can post, add images (this is a big benefit!), private message other members, and much more. That requires a simple registration process. First, you’ll be asked for your USER NAME. Choose something clever that fits you and your personality (e.g., MSdancer). I recommend NOT using your real name in full (e.g., use KrisTheRunner instead of Kris Smith) and avoid using your email address as a username. Then you’ll be asked to create a password and confirm your email address. And that’s pretty much it (other than answering a question to prevent spammers).

Prepare Your Profile

All of this is optional. But here’s where you can get creative. On the upper right of the page you’ll see your username and a drop-down menu. Click “My Profile.” If you feel so inspired, upload a photo or graphic for your avatar (the image that will appear next to every post of yours). The upload limit is 2MB, so you may need to downsize or crop an existing photo to avoid going over that limit. And note that that little “cropping” square that pops up can be resized, just drag a corner, so you can get exactly the portion of pic you want. Then click on “User Settings” and add whatever info you’d like to share with other members (or not). Leave it all blank if you prefer. You can always add details later.

Post Away!

If you’ve never posted in a forum, that first post can be a bit a scary, like jumping off the high dive. You don’t want to splay out and belly flop. But here’s the thing, you won’t. If you want to respond to an existing topic, click “Post Reply,” or just start typing at the bottom of the thread. If you want to start a new thread, click “New Topic.” Type in a subject, and then add what you’d like to say. If you want to add an image, click the camera icon, select upload and then follow instructions. Worried your post won’t turn out alright? Click on “preview” before you do it for reals.

Ack, So You Messed Up!?

You can edit your posts at any time. So if you say something that wasn’t quite worded correctly or the autocorrect changed “you are so dear to me” to “you are so dead to me” (argh!), you can remedy it. (If you need to edit the Title though, after five minutes it gets locked, so you’ll need to write me.) It’s all fixable. Likewise, if you want to do something a bit more complicated—change your username, remove a post entirely, or whatever—again, just email me personally: dave@activemsers.org.

Customize Out the Wazoo

There are a bunch of things you can do customize your fun, so play around, you won’t break anything. You can start in Edit Settings. In Account you can change basic settings, like time zone. In Notifications, you can tweak a bit more, like automatically subscribing to posts, getting e-mail notifications and more. And then if you go back to your main profile under your avatar, you’ll see Customize My Style. Change colors, text size, buttons, everything! Recommendation: change one thing at a time to see how you like it. And maybe don’t change the text color to white if you have a white background because then everything will, uh, vanish.

Community Best Practices

This isn’t Facebook or Twitter. Be nice. Be respectful. Don’t spread false information. Keep it chronic illness related; this isn’t a space for politics or a platform for causes outside of health. Promoting your own site, Facebook page or blog willy nilly is frowned upon unless you are an established member. And advertising is forbidden. Basically, use common sense. If you cross a line, I’ll let you know. If you see a spam post that I haven’t removed yet, write me and let me know: dave@activemsers.org. I try to delete them and ban the offender promptly, but sometimes they work too darn quickly for me catch them!

More Tips

Those little blue arrows on posts? Click them and they’ll jump to the latest post in that thread. See where it says “Posts” or “Latest Activity” directly under “Forums”? The former shows all posts, while the latter shows you just the new posts you’ve missed. And if you are excited about a certain thread and want to stay up to date on the latest, click +Subscribe. Now you’ll see a new “My Subscriptions” tab next to Forums and Latest Activity. Click that and your favorite threads are tucked in there! And in your profile there are more settings you can change. In your settings you can even set up e-mail alerts when someone comments on a post you are following.

Tagging and the Tag Cloud

One way to dig deeper into specific topics is to look at specific “tags” users put on some posts. For instance, you can find pretty much every exercise study posted in the forum by clicking on “Exercise Study” in the tag cloud. Researching AFOs or diet? Click on those tags. Registered users can add tags to any existing post, even those from years ago. When I have six months of free time, that’ll be a fun job to dive into! But if that never happens, I encourage you to add tags yourself when you feel so inspired.

Searching Topics

The search function really shows the power of the forums. At the upper right of every page is a search box. Use it. Interested in researching Rituxan as a treatment? Type in “Rituxan” and every post that has that term is displayed. You may need to try variations of the treatment name to get complete results, such as Rituximab, Ocrevus, and ocrelizumab. Likewise, if you are interested in researching a particular diet, type in your diet of choice, e.g., Wahls, Swank, etc. Bingo, presto! Everything ever posted on that topic dating back to 2008 will appear. Note, you can just search in titles, or you can click on “Advanced Search” and really get specific, from date ranges to members to the type of post.

Thank you for being a part of our community and please enjoy our forums here at ActiveMSers!