Getting Started - SuperuserDISCUS Administration Instructions


This tutorial is intended for new Discus users who have successfully set up Discus on their sites. This covers basic procedures, such as logging in to the administration program for the first time, setting up topics, and familiarizing yourself with the use and operation of the program.

This tutorial will be most valuable if you are actually performing the actions as you are directed in this tutorial. For this purpose, we recommend that you open a new browser window to access your board or that you print out a hard copy of this tutorial before proceeding further.

This tutorial goes into depth covering basic information that you as the superuser will need to know to utilize the Discus program fully. It will take approximately 30 minutes for a new user to complete this tutorial. We suggest that you do this tutorial in one time block with minimal interruptions. Once you get the feel of the program, you will be able to figure out most everything for yourself without consulting tutorials or instructions.

Actions to Perform

1. Log in to the administration program and change the password

All administration of the Discus program is performed using the administration interface. One special user, called the "superuser," has special rights to add and remove moderators and to establish those moderators' editing permissions. When the board is initially set up, the "superuser" is the only moderator that exists on the system.

To access the administration program, click on "Administration" from the program's main menu. This will bring you to the administration login screen. In the Username blank, type the superuser's username. The superuser's username will be admin unless you changed it in the installation process. Leave the Password box empty (do not type anything there). Then click on "Submit."

The first time you log in (with the blank password), the administration program will not give you any options other than to change your password. To change your password, use the "Set Password" screen, which is loaded into the right frame upon logging in, to enter and verify your password. Save your password by clicking on "Save Changed Password."

When you have changed your password, you will be prompted to register Discus. To register, click on the "Register Now!" button. This is the only registration that is necessary for Discus.

Possible Error: If you successfully see the left menu frame upon logging in to the administration program but the right frame displays a "Bad Username/Password Combination" error, then the problem is that you have not enabled cookies on your browser. The administration program stores your encrypted password in a cookie. Set your browser to accept cookies. Then click on "Cancel" and repeat the login procedure.

2. Locate the administration instructions

When you have changed your password and registered Discus, you should log in to the administration program again. There is a link on the bottom of the "Thanks for Registering" screen that takes you to your board; from your board, click on "Administration" and log in as you did in step 1, except that you should now use the password you specified in step 1.

Upon logging in with the changed password, the full range of administration options are available to the superuser. The Administration Instructions are available as a link from the administration main menu. These instructions fully document all operations in the administration interface. These instructions also contain this tutorial as well as a "Getting Started" tutorial for other moderators. You should feel free to consult the Administration Instructions if you want additional information about a feature or if you want to learn how to use a feature.

Establishing groups and topics

3. Set up group structure

Discus editing privileges are controlled using "groups." The superuser is responsible for adding, removing, and editing groups. Groups are added and removed from the "Group Manager." Access the Group Manager by clicking on the link from the administration main menu.

You can create a group that will later be used for system announcements. To do this, type system into the text entry box under "Add a Group." Then click on the Add this Group button. Also create a group called test using this procedure. Later, we will set up moderator accounts with various editing privileges based on these groups.

4. Create topics

At this time, you have not yet added any topics to the top page. Discus is structured so that only the superuser can add topics to the top page (this allows you to keep the top page orderly).

Topics are added and removed from the top page using the "Board Manager." Access the Board Manager by clicking on the link from the administration main menu.

Under "Add a Topic" create a topic with "Topic Name" System Announcements, with "Topic Group" System. Change "Posting Privileges" to Private (since you don't want the general public to be posting messages there), and change "Initial Content" to Blank page ("Private Index"). Then click on "Add this Topic" to create the topic. We will see later what all of these options do by looking at the topic you created.

In a similar manner, add another topic named Test Messages, belonging to group Public, with posting privileges as Public and initial content as "Create New Conversation" button and brief message.


At this point, you have added two of your own topics to your discussion board. You have gone through the basic steps that are necessary to create a topic. Of course, when you create topics in the future, you could make them belong to an existing group (without creating another group specially for the topic). You can have more than one topic belong to a single group. You can also change the group of a topic using the Board Manager.

At this time, click on "Go to Board" from the administration main menu. On the topics page, you will see the two topics you created. Click on the "System Announcements" topic. You will see that there is absolutely nothing on the form -- no "Add a Message" form, no "Create New Conversation" button -- nothing. We will need to change the page layout to make the topic usable by users of your board.

Now look at the "Test Messages" topic. You will see a "Create New Conversation" button there and a welcome message. Click the "Create New Conversation" button, and you will see that the test topic allows public posting. The "Moderator Getting Started Tutorial" will explain how to use the "Access Manager" to configure public/private posting privileges.

Configuration of your topics

5. Set up the "System Announcements" topic

Log in to the administration program again. This time, you should see a list of the topics on your board in the right frame. If not, click on "Page Manager" from the administration main menu to bring up this list. We will configure the "System Announcements" topic first. Click on "System Announcements" from the list in the right frame.

The "Page Manager" is the interface that you will use the most as a moderator. It allows you to add, remove, edit, rename, reorder, and move subtopics; add, remove, edit "about messages;" and add, remove, edit, reorder, and move messages.

First, we will change the layout of the page to add an "About Message." An about message is a message that only the moderator for the page can add, remove, or edit. It is useful for giving static information to the users to identify the purpose of the page. Note that there is a similar function called an "Announcement Message" differing only in its location on a page (announcements go before the list of subtopics on a page, while about messages go after the list of subtopics).

To access the page layout, click on "[Page Layout]" from the "Quick Options" panel. By default, you will notice that the "List of Subtopics" option is checked. For now, check the About message box, the Messages box, and the Add a message form box. Leave the other boxes unchecked. Then click on the Change Page Layout button.

We will now add an about message to describe the purpose of the topic. In the text entry box under the "About Message" heading, type the following:

Then click on the Preview/Save Message button. Verify that the preview is correct and then click on the Save Message button.

At this point, go to the board by clicking on "Go to Board" from the administration main menu and go to the "System Announcements" page. Observe the layout that is employed. You will also notice that the topic is configured for private posting (meaning that only authorized users/moderators can post).

6. Post a system announcement message

We will now use the user interface to post a message into the system announcements topic. Note that there is also an "Add a Message" form in the administration interface that functions similarly.

Into the "Add a Message" box, type the following:

Enter your username and password in the appropriate boxes beneath the "Add a Message" text entry box. Remember that your username is admin and your password is whatever password you set in step 2. Click on Preview/Post message to view a preview of your message. When you have entered your message correctly, click on Post this Message. You will notice that your message is added to the page.

Possible Error: If your message does not show up, you need to reload the right frame. Alternatively, view "My post does not show up" in the "Troubleshooting" document. This problem is experienced by users who have not set their browsers to verify documents upon each load.

7. Create a new moderator

Administering a board is a big responsibility, and you will likely wish to delegate administrative responsibilities to other people. Those entrusted with such responsibilities are called moderators. You can create as many moderators as you wish. For your security, only you, the superuser, can create moderators.

To create a moderator, log into administration as the superuser and access the Moderator Manager using the link from the Administration Main Menu. Under "Add a Moderator" create a moderator with username buddy and a password you choose. You may optionally specify an e-mail address or a full name for buddy. (There is nothing special about the username buddy -- we are using it as an example only.) Upon clicking "Add this Moderator" buddy will show up on the list of moderators.

At this point, buddy has a moderator account, but buddy is not authorized to edit any topics. If you wish to verify this, log in to the administration program again as buddy.

8. Give the new moderator editing privileges

Because in most cases you don't want to give moderators permission to edit every single topic on the board, Discus allows you to selectively delegate moderator authority. Moderators are assigned to groups to determine their editing privileges. To edit groups, select the Group Manager from the Administration Main Menu. (Note that if you logged in as buddy you won't be able to see the Group Manager, because only the superuser can access the Group Manager. If this is the case, you need to log in as the superuser at this time.)

Upon accessing the Group Manager, you will see a list of groups containing the Public group and the System group. Since we want buddy to be able to administer the "Test Messages" topic but not the "System Announcements" topic, we will make buddy be a moderator in the Public group. (Remember that when you performed step 4, you made the "Test Messages" topic belong to the Public group.)

To add buddy as a moderator of the System group, click on the edit icon () next to the Public group. Under "Add Moderators to Group" click the add icon () next to buddy. The screen will refresh showing that buddy is now a moderator in the Public group. If you now log in as buddy you will see that you have editing privileges for the "Test Messages" topic but not for any other topics on the board.

Because buddy is an ordinary moderator and not the superuser, he can't access any of the "Superuser" functions such as the Board Manager, the Moderator Manager, or the Group Manager. This ensures that only the superuser can add new top-level topics, create new moderators, or assign editing privileges. Thus, by manipulating topics and groups, you can configure with a high level of specificity the exact editing privileges that each moderator on your system will have.


The following is a checklist of the things you were instructed to do in this tutorial.

[  ] Log into administration program
[  ] Change superuser password
[  ] Register Discus
[  ] Log into administration program again
[  ] Locate administration instructions
[  ] Create group called system
[  ] Create group called public
[  ] Create topic called System Announcements
[  ] Create topic called Test Message
[  ] Look at the board to see what you've done
[  ] Change layout of System Announcements page
[  ] Enter an "About Message"
[  ] Look at the board to see what you've done
[  ] Post a system announcement message
[  ] Create a moderator named buddy
[  ] Assign buddy to the public group


Congratulations, your discussion board is now set up to allow users to leave you a message in your "Test Messages" topic. You can post system announcements in the "System Announcements" topic.

You should continue to experiment with administrative tools and the posting interface to determine how the board works. To learn more about the Page Manager and the User Manager, consult the moderator tutorial by clicking on the right arrow below or by selecting it from the index.

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