Frequently Asked Questions: Forums

General QuestionsPlantScout Vendor Questions

    How do I start a new thread?

    The first step is to select the appropriate forum to post your thread. Once you've entered the forum you plan to post a new thread, here are step-by-step instructions to start a new thread:
    1. When you are viewing a forum, you'll see 20 threads, from the most recent to the oldest.
    2. Scroll down past the last thread. There you'll see the heading "Starting a new topic"
    3. Type your subject line (specific but brief is best)
    4. Move your mouse to the text box and type your question or comment in the larger box.
    5. Click on "Preview" to see what it will look like when you submit it.
    6. When you're happy with your post, click on "Submit".
    Once you submit your post, the system will automatically set your thread for you to watch and you'll receive automatic notification each time someone (other than you) posts a reply. After your thread is submitted, you'll be offered the choice to return to the forum or return to your thread so you can continue to navigate around the site.

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    Why do all my posts have "edit" next to them?

    This feature that allows you to add to or change your own posts.  When you submit a post and then realize you mistyped a word or left out a key piece of information, the "edit" allows you to correct your own mistakes.  If you post offers of seed or plants and run out, you can edit your first post to tell new readers "sorry, all out" before they read the entire thread or email you.

    Each user sees "edit" next to his/her own posts because they can edit their own posts, but no one else's.  Only you and the site administrators can edit your posts.

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    I want to add bold, italics, underlining or strikethroughs to my posts.

    We permit limited .html formatting tags within posts (not within subject lines in new threads.)

    If you're familiar with using html tags, you can easily add italics or bold or underlining to your text. If you're not familiar with html formatting, here are some quick steps:

    To italicize to a word or phrase, place <i> in front of the word/phrase and </i> immediately following it.

    To underline a word or phrase, place <u> in front of the word/phrase and </u> immediately following it.

    To bold to a word or phrase, place <b> in front of the word/phrase and </b> immediately following it.

    These tags can also be "nested" (used together) to create a bold, italicized, and/or underlined word or phrase. We recommend using the Test forum to become comfortable with inserting formatting tags into your posts.

    To strike though a word or phrase, place <s>  in front of the word/phrase and </s> immediately following it.

    Note to more experienced html users: These are the only tags permitted. Attempts to use other formatting tags will likely result in a formatting error within your post.

    Feel free to use the test forum to try your hand at creating these formatting tags in your posts.  

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    How can I put a "quote" box in a thread?

    An indented blue "quote" box really makes a quote stand out within a thread. They can be used to highlight a direct quote taken from another site or a book or magazine, or even from another thread. Here's how to add one to your thread:
    [quote] text [/quote]

    (A small note of caution - the overuse of quote boxes can detract from a thread and reduce their effectiveness, so use them sparingly for best effect.)

    Want to practice creating a quote box?  Try the Test forum! 

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    Can I edit or remove my own posts or threads?

    You can edit your own posts, including removing all the information (this leaves a blank post.)  For obvious reasons, we discourage anyone from completely removing a post as it may cause the discussion thread to become nonsensical or illogical.  If you accidentally posted the same reply twice, we'll be happy to remove the second/duplicate post (contact us for assistance.)

    Likewise, if you realize you placed a thread in the wrong forum, contact us and we'll move it for you (be sure to provide a link to the thread and your suggestion on where it should be moved.)

    In some forums, you can close your own threads, including the trading forums (when your offer of seed or plant material has run out); and the identification forum (when a positive ID has been reached.)  Hint:  when viewing these forums, look for a link at the top to view only "open" threads if you don't want to wade through the closed threads.

    To close your thread on any of these forums, look for a blue hyperlink near the top that says "click here to mark it as closed."  (You can also re-open a thread if you clicked the link too soon, or by accident.  Look in the spot for a link to re-open it.)

    If you wish to delete a thread, contact us for assistance - be sure to provide a link to the thread and your reasons for wanting it removed.

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    Is it okay to type everything in CAPITAL LETTERS?

    In a word, no.  Typing in all capital letters is considered equivalent to shouting at someone.  It's fine to capitalize a word here and there to emphasize your point, but posts typed in all capital letters, with or without excessive exclamation points (!!!!!) are difficult to read and may be viewed as aggressive, anti-social and/or negative by readers.

    Other common mistakes:
    • typing in all lowercase;
    • lack of proper punctuation;
    • lack of paragraphs (run-on posts)
    Of course, we're not your 8th grade English teacher and you aren't going to receive a  failing grade if your posts aren't letter-perfect!  The conversational tone within our forums is casual, but we strongly encourage proper syntax, grammar and punctuation if you want people to read and respond favorably to your questions and suggestions.

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    How do I add a hyperlink in a post?

    We make inserting hyperlinks as easy as possible - no html tags or formatting, just cut and paste your link.  (It's inadvisable to manually type a hyperlink (aka "URL") because most of us misspell something, or forget a "/" so whenever possible, copying and pasting it is the best option.)  Gardenwife, one of our long-time members, wrote this step-by-step instruction that will help you become an instant expert at copying and pasting text and links:
    1. Go to the page you want to link to in your post.
    2. Highlight the URL which appears in the address bar of your browser. You can use your mouse to do this, but a great shortcut to this is to hit ALT+D* This highlights the entire URL!
    3. With the URL still highlighted, click EDIT --> COPY. Now the URL has been copied into the windows clipboard
    4. Go to the forum you wish to post the URL in and create your message.
    5. When you're ready to insert the link, make sure the cursor is where you want it to be and click EDIT --> PASTE. This will paste the clipboard contents into your message.
    * When I say "press ALT+D", I mean press the ALT key down, then press the D key (while still holding the ALT key down). The action is similar to holding down the shift key and pressing a letter when you want to make the letter uppercase. You don't have to hit the keys simultaneously - you just have to press and hold down the first key, then hit the other one. Many computer shortcuts combine the ALT key and a letter...

    For more advanced tips on copying and pasting you can visit this page in Gardenwife's journal

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    How do I add an image to a post?

    You can add images (just one or up to five) to a new thread you're starting, or to a new post within a thread.  Beneath the text box for your post, you'll find a "choose a file" button. This will open up a new window displaying your hard drive.  Locate your image you wish to upload, highlight it to choose it and then preview it. REpeat if you have other images to upload at the same time.  Once you're happy with the entry, press "Submit".  It will be automatically uploaded and available for all readers to access.  While you are previewing the images, you can click on the red "x" on any image to remove it if you don't wish to post it.

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    Are any forums accessible to non-subscribed members?

    Yes. All registered users may fully participate (read and post) in dozens of forums (those that do not have a red asterisk next to them are accessible to all registered members.)

    We welcome participation from all our members within these forums, but --as with all our forums--posts should be on-topic and self-promotion posts are not allowed.

    Off-topic posts and/or self-promotion messages in any forum should be reported to us via the Contact Us link at the bottom of each page; they will be reviewed and removed if warranted. Repeated attempts to post off-topic or self-promotional comments may result revocation of your membership.

    Additionally, non-subscribed members can read (but not post) to the Dave's Garden FAQ forum, where many other site-related questions are answered.

    Non-subscribed members will find they may be able to read only the first post of the threads in some forums that are noted as subscribers-only. A few other forums are visible only to subscribers.

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    What does "watching" a thread mean?

    For threads you want to keep close tabs on, you can choose to "watch" them.  It doesn't matter if you started the thread or not, or even if you have posted to it - any subscriber can "watch" any thread.

    You'll be offered the opportunity each time you post to a thread.  If you want to keep tabs on one you're just reading, you'll find a link to "watch" it in the tabs displayed above the thread.

    Whenever someone posts to a watched thread (other than you), a notice will appear at the top of your home page the next time you refresh your page (clicking on the DG logo or the "Home" tab will do this.)

    Since you can watch ANY thread, not just those you create, we don't send email alerts for watched threads.  (Not only would it create a tremendous drain on our resources to send out email alerts, but if you're watching a popular thread, your email inbox would quickly overflow with alerts!)

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    Can I see a list of my watched threads?

    Sure!  Go to your Member Page (a link to "My Info" is at the top of every page) and to see your information.  In the first box ("Your Actions") is information that only you can see; the third link takes you to your watched threads:
    • View your Dmail
    • View the feedback you've given other members
    • View the threads you are "watching"
    • View the posts you have made
    • View your tagged pages
    • View your DG Favorites (if you used the "favorites" before tags were introduced)
    • Purchase a subscription for you or a firend
    • Manage your friends and groups (for dmail "blast" messages)
    • Manage your preferences
    The second box ("Actions") contains links to your DG activities that other members can see.  The third box contains links to all your contributions, which may include sections for PlantFiles, BirdFiles, BugFiles, Go Gardening,, Garden Watchdog, Garden Bookworm, Gardenology and Botanary.  (Hint:  if you want this list to grow, visit those features and share what you know with others!)

    You can click on any link in any section to see more details, including a list of all the threads you're watching.  (NOTE:  The links in the first box can be seen only by you.  Links and information in the other boxes can be seen by anyone who accesses your Member Page.)

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    How do I stop "watching" a thread?

    Go to the thread and click on the link that says "Unwatch this thread" (located near the top left-hand corner of the thread.)

    But before you decide to stop watching a thread, consider whether or not someone else may post to it, and hope to receive a response from you.  This is especially true if you started the thread, no matter how old it is - someone may find it, post to it, and then wonder why you never replied....

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    Why don't my posts show as "New"?

    Because it's not new to you.  Once you read or post to a thread,  the system remembers that you've already seen the most recent post.  It will not turn to "Yes" until someone else posts to that thread.

    The same holds true for the forums - once you've visited a forum, the forum will not show as "Yes" until someone starts a new thread or posts to one of the threads within that forum.

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    How does "skip to new" work?

    Posts in each thread are arranged in chronological order (oldest first, newest down the page.)  The "skip to new"  feature allows you to bypass all the previously-read posts, and go straight to the newest post(s).  This is especially helpful for long posts that you're keeping up with, and saves a lot of mousing and scrolling down the page.  If you've never opened the thread before the "skip to new" won't take you very far - only to the initial post!  But once you've accessed a thread, the "skip to new" will become a useful tool when you next return to that thread.

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    Why is there an asterisk (*) next to some threads?

    When you are viewing a forum, some threads may have an asterisk (*) next to them.  This indicates there is a picture in the first post of the thread.

    Just because a thread doesn't have an asterisk doesn't necessarily mean it is devoid of pictures.  If the person who created the thread did not include a picture in the first post, but they or others have posted pictures after the thread was begun, the asterisk will not appear.

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    What is a "sticky" thread?

    A "sticky" thread is one that remains at the top of the forum list. It contains information that we feel should always be available to members, thus it does not slide down the page if no posts are made to it. It remains "stuck" or pinned to the top of the thread queue.

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    How do I find the threads I started?

    To see your threads, go to your Member Page ("My Info" link is at the top of every page) and to see your information:
    • Member-to-member mail
    • Feedback you've left for others
    • Threads you're watching
    • Posts you have made
    • Journal (if you have marked it as "public")
    • Your tradelist
    Plus your contributions to PlantFiles, Garden Watchdog, Garden Bookworm, Garden Terms and Botanary.

    You can click on these links to see the details, including a list of all the threads you started or have posted to.  (Hint:  this is also a way to search for a particular thread started by you or another member.  Go to your home page (or theirs) and click on the "threads started" link to see all threads initiated.)

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    Why should I preview my post before I submit it?

    Previewing your message is a great way to make sure you don't have any glaring typos or grammatical errors; that your formatting (if you added italics, underlining, etc.) work properly, and that any hyperlinks were added correctly.  It also gives you a second chance to ponder your choice of words before you put them out there for others to read.

    In our system, there's another good reason to preview your posts. When you switch to preview mode, the system will display a warning and hyperlink if someone else "beat you to the punch" and posted to the thread while you were composing your reply.

    How many times have you posted a message, only to realize that someone else answered the question, or the conversation took a turn in another direction, leaving your carefully crafted response out-of-context?  By previewing your reply, you can be sure your post is still pertinent and on-topic when you hit "submit!"

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    Can I cross-post my message?

    Sometimes it's tempting to post announcements (or burning questions, trades, or an urgent cry for help) in several forums to try to get your message exposed to as many people as possible.

    However, cross-posting the same message to several forums is discouraged, and  redundant posts may be deleted by site administrators.  Why?  It's bad "netiquette" (similar to spamming) and it's confusing to administrators and readers who read (and even respond) to one post, only to enter another forum and see the same post repeated. 
    If a situation really warrants cross-posting (ask first!) the best approach is to post one  message to the most appropriate forum, with the second message briefly explaining it is a cross-post along with a hyperlink to the original message. 

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    Can I advertise or sell things in the forums?

    According to our Acceptable Use Policy, members of our forums can use only the Classified Ads forum to promote themselves, their websites (personal or commercial), advertise goods/services they sell, seek employment or employees, or solicit donations for charities or fundraisers.  Self-promotion posts in any other forums may be removed by our administrators.

    The cost for a two-week ad is $5 (US) and includes a full-color photo.  Classified ads are fully accessible to all visitors, members and subscribers of Dave's Garden.

    You are welcome to offer plants, seeds or bulbs for exchange within the appropriate trading forums, but you may not advertise goods or services for sale, whether they're plant, seed, or otherwise within those forums.

    You can use your homepage to link to your company or personal website among your "favorite sites", if you wish.

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    I've read this FAQ and I still have a question!

    You may find the answer to your question within one of the other tabs (each has its own FAQ section, with questions and information specific to that feature of our site.)

    If you've checked the other FAQs and can't find an answer to your question, use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom and tell us your question.  We'll do our best to answer your question promptly. Subscribed members can also post their question in any appropriate discussion forum (DG, General Discussion, etc.) for peer-to-peer assistance.

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