WoodCentral's Messageboard FAQs

    Welcome to WoodCentral's "Messageboard FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page. Here you'll find answers to many of the common questions about using our forums. Please take time to read them, particularly the forum rules, and send us an email if you have other questions about the messageboards.


...Ellis Walentine, Host

Q: What are all the different forums about?

A:
We currently have eight forums here, each with a different focus. You can select a forum from the "Sightings" page (http://www.woodcentral.com/forums), which many of our users set as their browser home page, or you can select a forum from any of the red navigation menus on the left side of various site pages. Just put your mouse over the "MESSAGEBOARDS" box and select a forum name from the fly-out menu. Here's a brief description of the various forums:
  • Messages - our general woodworking board, where you can post messages on all topics, including "OT" subjects that are not woodworking-related.
  • Turning - our forum for turning and related topics. There are many excellent turners and lots of very friendly folks that frequent this popular turning community, and they are happy to answer any questions that you may have. Post pictures of your latest turning triumphs here.
  • Hand Tools - a place to discuss hand tools and methods.
  • Trivia - an eclectic forum with daily questions -- usually related to woodworking -- to test your knowledge and have a bit of fun.
  • Classifieds - the place to advertise your personal items for sale. It is not intended for businesses. If you are a commercial entity and would like to advertise on WoodCentral, please contact the Webmaster.
  • Looking for Something? - This is the place to put questions regarding where to find just about anything: tools, plans, articles, materials, etc.
  • Events - a free bulletin board for upcoming events such as gatherings or club activities.
  • Benefit Auctions - WoodCentral is a free site, supported by advertising, volunteers and donations from our visitors. The Benefit Auctions board is a place where visitors can offer items -- things they've made, tools they don't use anymore, etc. -- for public auction, with part or all of the proceeds to be donated to WoodCentral to help support the site.

    Q: How do I use your messageboards?

    A:
    You will find our forums quite simple and intuitive to use. Here are some basic instructions:

    1. Read messages. Each forum has its own home page (or "index" page), with a list of currently active discussions on that forum. The default time frame of messages listed varies from board to board, and you can change the time frame quickly by choosing another date range from the drop-down box in the lower right corner of the gray navigation bar ("navbar") at the top of the message list. Click on any message title to view the contents of that message. "Telltales" ("PIC", "LINK", "NM") following the message title are there to let you know that those messages contain an image ("PIC"), a link ("LINK"), or that there is no text content ("NM") to the message. [NOTE: The "Previous" and "Next" links that you see on some of the gray navigation bars toggle the next and previous messages in the order they were posted, not necessarily within the thread you are reading. To continue reading a thread, click on the message title for the next message you want to read.]

    2. Set your preferences. There are several options for how messages and message index pages are displayed in your browser. Click the "Set Preferences" link in the navigation bar to choose a display style that suits you best. The options are explained at the bottom of the "Set Preferences" page. For folks used to the appearance of other bulletin board software, try the "Compressed" List style. Our default is the "Mixed/Threaded/Single-message" style, which keeps posts and responses organized by thread, with the latest thread at the top of the list.

    3. Register a profile. (optional, but recommended) WoodCentral is a little different from other woodworking forums in that we don't require you to register in order to be able to post messages, but there are a lot of advantages to having a valid WoodCentral profile:

  • tell other visitors about yourself and your woodworking interests. Include a photo if you wish.
  • use formatting tools and smiley faces to customizing message text.
  • upload one or more images or other files from your computer directly into your messages as you compose them. This is a great feature for showing a sequence of work or different views of a finished piece.
  • access the "Optional Link URL" box and the "Optional Image URL" boxes, so you can upload links and images that you have stored elsewhere on the Internet.
  • edit and/or delete your posts. Editing must be done within two hours of posting.
  • view e-mail addresses of posters who include them in their message headers.
  • view the list of profiles of registered users.
  • display user profiles.
  • bypass the content filter, so you can paste links in your messages. The content filter prevents spammers from posting unwanted links on our boards, which was a big problem with our previous software.
  • enable "Report problem" link so you can send a trouble ticket to the forum administrator when you have a problem or question about the workings of the forum. The trouble ticket contains information about your browser settings and enables forum administrators to prescribe solutions to common posting problems.

        Creating a profile is quick and easy, your e-mail address is secure, and we will never share or trade any personal information with anyone. It's the best way to enjoy all the features and benefits of the WoodCentral boards. CLICK HERE for detailed, illustrated instructions on creating a profile.

    4. Post messages and replies. To post a new message, click the "Post New" link in the navbar at the top of the message index. To reply to another message, go to that message and click the "Reply" link. A "postform" page will open. Fill out the text areas with your name, e-mail address, subject line and message text. To attach an image that is accessible from the Internet, type the URL of the image (GIF, JPG or PNG only) into the Optional Image URL box. You may also choose to be notified when someone responds to your message. Registered users will have the option of advanced text formatting options, adding smilies to messages, uploading links, and uploading multiple files and images using the "Upload Embedded Image" box.

    5. Edit or delete your message(s). Registered users may edit their posts within two hours of posting and delete their post anytime. Just open the message you wish to modify or delete, check "Edit" or "Delete" at the bottom of the message, and type your password.

    6. Keyword search. Our forums have an advanced search utility that allows you to search all our boards and archives for messages that match certain keywords that you type into the "Keyword Search" text box in the navbar. We currently have over 800,000 messages in our search index, so if you get too many results, you can narrow your search by adding words to your keyword search box. The search utility will become available around January 20, 2010.

    7. Report a problem. If you encounter anything unusual or problematic having to do with the forums or their functioning, please click the "Report Problem" link in the navbar and fill out the requested information on the Trouble Ticket form. An administrator will attempt to resolve your issue as soon as possible.

    Q: What do I need to know about cookies?

    A:
    Our server sends a cookie to your browser whenever you a) post or preview a message, b) set your preferences via the "Set Preferences" link, or c) create or modify your WoodCentral profile through the "My Profile" interface. These cookies are not intrusive and do not in any way compromise your security or privacy online. Here are some things you might want to know about cookies:
  • There will be several WoodCentral cookies set for each browser you use. One is for your personal information such as username and password, and then each forum will have its own cookie to store your viewing preferences for that particular forum.
  • Cookies are handled by the browser and are NOT shared among browsers or computers. So, if you are experimenting with another browser on the same computer (or another computer) it will not read the information stored in the cookie that was set for use by another browser.
  • Your browser sends the cookie information to the messageboard script and tells it how to display your name and address, what your password is, which messages are new since your last visit, and which forum features you have access to. (See #3 above for list of accessible features for registered users.)
  • Not all browsing or profile problems are caused by cookies, so don't immediately delete your WoodCentral cookie(s) if you have a problem. Many browsers by default will not accept cookies for more than one session and/or they will not accept cookies from domains if the cookie was deleted one or more times. Browsers define sessions differently, but most of them consider it a session if at least one browser window is open. Once you close all browser windows, the session is considered to have expired, and the browser no longer uses the cookie. You may need to dig into your specific browser settings and documentation to see how your browser(s) handle cookies. If you do delete your WoodCentral cookie(s) for any reason, and the messageboard forgets you or your preferences, you may need to instruct your browser to allow cookies to be set from WoodCentral. In Firefox, the cookie settings instructions are included in the Privacy tab of the Tools > Options menu. Go here for detailed instructions. Similar instructions are included in the documentation of all the major browsers.

    Q: What are the forum rules?

    A:
    Historically, we have not had a lot of official rules at WoodCentral, yet our forum has always been very civil. We abide by the generally-accepted, largely-unspoken rules of respect, courtesy and common sense that guide all communities, real or virtual. When in doubt, treat others as you would have them treat you. We do ask, though, that you refrain from discussing religion or politics, and we never allow:
  • Spam in any form.
  • Off-color posts, dirty jokes or swearing. Please refrain from saying anything you wouldn't say in polite company or in front of your children.
  • "Flaming" or personal attacks on others. Healthy debate and respectful disagreement are welcome; name-calling, bickering and back-biting are not.
  • Commercial postings and links. (See next question also). If you are an individual with something to sell, feel free to post it on our classified board. If you have an Ebay link to the item, you are welcome to put it in your classified post, along with any other explanatory details and photographs that you wish. You can also make a brief post on the appropriate forum pointing to the listing in 'Classifieds'. If you're a business and would like to advertise on WoodCentral, please send an e-mail to ads@woodcentral.com or call toll-free 1-877-933-4637 during East Coast business hours.

    Q: Can you elaborate on the "commercial posting" rule?

    A:
    WoodCentral relies on advertising revenue from the sale of banner ads and messageboard ads (posted by the Host, clearly marked as ads). Unsolicited commercial messages and links (those referring to or linking to commercial ventures or websites) are not permitted on our messageboards and will be removed at the moderator's sole discretion and earliest opportunity. You may post a link to your commercial website and/or mention your commercial product or service in a message only if it is an appropriate and relevant response to a question posted on the messageboard by someone else.
        Also, please don't "sign" your messages by posting a link to your website in the message form's "Optional Link URL" box unless the linked page is relevant to the question you are responding to. Your Profile is the appropriate place to post a link to your commercial website. You may post a link to your non-commercial website anytime. Non-commercial sites are those that do not offer products or services (Exception: woodworking projects) for sale to other visitors.

    Q: How do I upload photos with my messages?

    A:
    Registered users (those with valid profiles) may upload one or more images and/or files directly from their computer. All users may link to the URL of an image that is accessible on the Internet. To upload an image from your computer, first be sure it is smaller than the file size limit for that type of permitted file type. (Click the little blue button next to the "Upload embedded file" box to see the permitted file types and the size limits for each.) Place your cursor in the message text box where you want the image to appear in your post, then click the "Browse" button next to the "Upload embedded image" box and browse to the image or file on your computer and click Open. In a few moments, a line of code will appear in the message text, surrounded by [uplimg][/uplimg] tags. You may uplpoad as many images as you like, wherever you like, in the message body, as long as no image or file exceeds the file size limit for that type.
        If the image you want to upload is somewhere on the Internet (e.g., Photobucket, Shutterfly, Picasa), you may include it with your message by pasting the URL of the image (JPG, GIF or PNG extension only) into the "Optional Image URL" box under the message text box. Registered users may also insert images in their messages using HTML tags. Please be sure you know what you're doing when using HTML in our message forms.

    Q: How do I reduce the size of pictures so that I can post them on WoodCentral?

    A:
    First, a little background about digital images and JPEG compression:
  • Number of pixels in the image: Depending on whether you are using a 4 megapixel camera or a 10 megapixel camera (or other megapixel count), and what resolution you are using with that camera (e.g., super-high quality, high-quality, standard, basic, etc. -- however your camera offers the choice) the image could be anywhere from, say 640 x 480 to 5120 x 3840 or more. Every pixel requires a certain number of bytes of memory to remember the exact color of that pixel, so the more pixels, the more memory. You can reduce the filesize by selecting another resolution, but I don't advise that. Memory is cheap. I prefer to shoot at a high-quality resolution and then keep the hi-res originals in a folder of their own and never touch them. When I change them (crop, lighten/darken, resize, etc.), I save the altered shots in another folder with a different name. This ensures I will always have the originals to go back to if I want to change them in some other way in the future.

  • Compression: JPG images are "compressed" images, where adjacent pixels are all saved as the same color instead of having separate information for each individual pixel. At the microscopic level (if you zoom in to 5000% or so), you can actually see the averaged pixels as blocks of color instead of different colors. This is the key to "resizing" an image. You don't have to change the physical size. By using an image manipulation program such as Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, or one of the simpler ones, you can choose different compression ratios for an image. The more compression you apply, the smaller the file size becomes, but image quality drops, too, so you need to find a balance between image quality and file size. The 100Kb filesize limit for photos on WoodCentral message boards allows excellent quality and image size.


    WoodCentral's 100Kb filesize limit is actually much more than you need and here's a picture to illustrate it. This photo is 600 x 449 pixels and is only 38Kb in size -- just over one-third of the file size limit.
        Here is a series of steps you can use to resize photos for uploading. You will need an image manipulation program (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, PixResizer, or other) to do this.

    1. Crop the image: Using you image program, crop the original camera image to include just the part of the pictue you want to show. This gets rid of unnecessary picture areas and immediately reduces the number of pixels accordingly.

    2. Physically resize the image: Use the resizing function of your image program to reduce the pixel dimensions to the smallest size large enough to show all the detail you want to convey. If you resize your image to between 500 and 700 pixels on the longer dimension, it will fit within WoodCentral's messageboard window yet retain plenty of detail and visibility. (See cardinal picture, right.)

    3. Save the image with appropriate compression: When you save your resized image, you will have an option to choose a JPG compression ratio. In some image programs, this will be something simplistic like "fine," "medium," or "coarse"; in others, you will be able to specify the exact compression, and possibly be able to preview the chosen compression ratio to see if the quality is still there. You want to choose the finest compression ratio that is still under 100Kb.
        Once you have resized, compressed, and saved your image, upload it to the appropriate place in your message as explained above.

    For folks who don't have image resizing programs, you might like the online resizing utility at www.picresize.com. You simply browse your computer for the camera image you want to resize, then click the Quick Resize text link (not the big yellow Continue button, unless you want to crop or apply special effects). This drops down another dialog box where you can choose your output dimensions (use a custom size of 600w x 800h or 800w x 600h depending on whether your photo is vertical or horizontal format) and a filesize limit (use 100Kb or less), then click the yellow, Quick Resize button. It will upload your image, manipulate it, and then display the starting size and the finished size, and offer you the options of viewing it or downloading it. Download it to your hard drive, and then browse to it from the WoodCentral message form.


    Q: I notice that some messages contain text formatting? How do I do that?

    A:
    If you are a registered user, you will see text formatting buttons above the message text box of the post form. Hover your mouse over the buttons to see what they do. To apply a format to a section of text, highlight that section and click the appropriate button. Our message forms also accept standard HTML markup, again provided you are a registered user.


    Q: What about posting links in messages?

    A:
    You are welcome to post any links that you think will be of interest to other visitors. Please do not post links to your commercial site; it isn't fair to WoodCentral's advertisers. Links to relevant business pages that you do not have an interest in are fine. Simply paste the URL of the link site in the "Optional Link URL" box. You may title the link for visitors by typing a title in the "Optional Link Title" box.


    Q: Why am I seeing cherries () in front of some of the message titles?

    A: Those cherries are "new message" notifications. Messages, including your own messages, posted since the beginning, not the end, of your last visit, are flagged as new. The script considers a new visit to begin once you've been away from the board for at least thirty minutes, so if you return to the board before half an hour has elapsed, the cherries will not have updated. This may seem a bit confusing at first, but it's actually very handy, as it makes it easier to spot new messages and responses to your messages. You need to have your browser set to accept cookies for this feature to work. No messages will appear as "new" on your first visit to the board, or on your first visit after deleting your WoodCentral cookie files. If you've visited the board several times, and the notices still aren't appearing, or aren't appearing correctly, you probably need to delete your cookie file(s) and start over by posting or previewing a new message.