1. What is the News forum?
2. What is subscription?
3. Who can read or post to a forum?
4. What is Read tracking?
5. Can one post anonymously?
6. What types of forum are available?
7. Can one restrict a discussion to members of just one group?
8. Can one check for new posts and unread posts at a glance?
9. How does one find...?
10. What other options are there in the regular forum?
11. What other options are there in ForumNg?

What is the News forum?
Each course has a News forum. It differs from a regular forum in that:
  • By default, all course participants (aka Enrolled users) are subscribed
  • By default, only Teachers and TAs can post
  • It is created automatically. (If it is deleted, another News forum is automatically created.)
  • Recent posts are displayed in the Latest news block

What is subscription?
If a user is subscribed to a forum or discussion he is mailed posts to it.
(Subscription has nothing to do with the user's ability to view or post to the forum.)
The Subscription mode can be:
  • Optional subscription: This is the default for any forum created manually. Participants can subscribe.
  • Forced subscription: This is the default for the News forum. Participants are subscribed and cannot unsubscribe
  • Auto subscription: Participants are initially subscribed but can unsubscribe
  • Subscription disabled: No-one can subscribe
In a forum with Optional or Auto subscription:
  • One can subscribe or unsubscribe to the forum by clicking on Subscribe to this forum or Unsubscribe from this forum in the Forum administration
  • When posting, one can subscribe to the discussion by enabling Discussion subscription. For it to be enabled by default, select option Yes, when I post, subscribe me to that forum dicussion in field Forum autosubcribe in one's Forum preferences.
  • One can subscribe or unsubscribe to any discussion by clicking on dot or envelope to the right of the discussion in the list of discussions.
Unfortunately, only course participants can be subscribed to a forum or a forum discussion. Subscribing to a discussion is ineffective for non-participants.

Who can read or post to a forum?
Anyone who has access to the course can read the forums.
Students cannot post to the News forum. All users can post to other forums.
This can be changed under Permissions in the Forum administration block. For example:
  • To prevent guests reading, remove capability View discussions from role Guest.
    (See Mini guide Restricting access for alternative ways of restricting access to guests.)
  • To allow posting to the News forum, add capabilities Add news and/or Reply to news to the relevant role
  • To prevent posting to a regular forum, remove capabilities Start new discussions and/or Reply to posts.
See Mini guide Capabilities for further information on adding and removing capabilities.

What is Read tracking?
Moodle keeps track of which posts one has read:
  • The number of unread posts in each forum, if any, is shown on the course page.
  • The number of unread posts in each discussion is shown in the list of dicussions.
  • Normally, a post is considered to have been read as soon as it is viewed
  • Option Mark unread ensures that the post is not considered to have been read. This is a HUJI feature.
Read tracking can be turned off:
  • In all forums, in one's Forum preferences. See Mini guide Profile and preferences
  • In an individual forum, for oneself, by clicking on Don't track unread posts in the Forum administration block
  • In an individual forum, for all users, in the forum Edit settings

Can one post anonymously?
Yes, if Anonymize posts is set to Yes, all posts or Optional (let the user decide) in the forum Edit settings. This is a HUJI feature

What types of forum are available?
There are two forum activities available:
  • The regular Forum: The topic of most of this Mini FAQ. It offers four Forum types:
    • Standard forum for general use. The default
    • A single simple discussion: Similar to above, but with only a single discussion (i.e. thread)
    • Each person posts one discussion: Each student can start only one discussion. Useful as a form of assessment.
    • Q and A forum: Similar to above except that students can view and reply to each others postings only after they have posted themselves
  • The Personal forum (ForumNG): A alternative forum developed by the British University. Not the topic of most of this Mini FAQ. It offers two Forum types:
    • Standard forum for general use
    • Study advice (only see own discussions): The default ForumNG type at HUJI and the reason we have renamed it to Personal forum. Useful for private correspondence between a student and the course staff.

Can one restrict a discussion to members of just one group?
Yes. Simply set the Group mode (in section Common Module settings of the forum Edit settings) to something other than No groups.
Then pick a group before opening a new discussion. (A student can pick only a group to which he belongs.)
If the Group mode is Separate groups, a student can see only discussions in groups to which he belongs.
If it is Visible groups, the default group is one of the student's own groups but he can view discussions also in other groups.
If a student is subscribed to the forum, he is mailed posts only in discussions in his own groups.

Can one check for new posts and unread posts at a glance?
Posts made since once last logged in are considered to be new posts. (This is not the same as unread posts.)
Several options:
  • One's Dashboard page shows in which of one's courses, and in which forums, there are new posts and unread posts.
  • One can choose to receive all the day's posts in a single email (aka digest) rather than individually. (Option Email digest type in one's Forum preferences, under Preferences).
    Note: The digest includes only posts in forums and discussions to which one is subscribed.
  • The index of forums (reached from link Forums in the Activities block) shows the number of discussions and unread posts in each forum.
    It also has options for toggling read tracking and subscription and whether and how posts are included in the daily digest (if one is subscribed).

How does one find...?
  • ...all the discussions one started, or posts one made, in all forums in all courses: Links Forum posts and Forum discussions in one's Profile
  • ...a word, phrase or author in all the forums of a course: Use the Search forums block or the Search forums window in the forum
  • ...something in just one forum: Click on Advanced search (below Search forums)

What other options are there in the regular forum?
Most of the other options in the forum Edit settings are less useful in tertiary education. They include:
  • Attachments and word count: Restrictions on size of posts
  • Post threshhold for blocking: Restrictions on number of posts
  • Ratings: Grading of posts.
However, they can offer opportunity for creativity. See e.g. How can I have a 'Like' button for my forum discussions? in the official Forum FAQ
Options available in all activities and resources (in sections Common module settings, Guest access and Restrict access) are discussed further in other Mini guides.

What other options are there in ForumNg?
In addition to many of the options available in the regular forum, in ForumNG:
  • A Teacher or TA can:
    • Mark a discussion as sticky i.e. ensure that it stays at the top of the list of discussions
    • Set the display period during which students can view the discussion i.e. hide or unhide a discussion now or in the future
    • Lock a discussion i.e. prevent further posts
  • Any user can:
    • Flag a discussion for himself i.e. ensure that it appears in his list of flagged discussions
    • Print a post or discussion
  • The Adminstrator can:
    • Arrange for a forum to be shared between two or more courses