NAVIGATION: You will notice at the top left, under the logo, are navigation tools. These will take you to the home page (portal), the discussion forums, the wiki function, the original LFV blog, and our gallery.
When you are in a function, the navigation will be at the top left. On the portal (this page), there are additional tools on the left sidebar. Play around with them, so you get a good idea of what's what.
REGISTRATION: The first thing you need to do is register, so you have full access to the site. It only takes a minute, and you can use whatever name you wish, as long as it's not already taken and is unique. Don't use "Anonymous", please. Also, do not make multiple accounts, unless you are unable to get into yours and thus have no choice but to make another. If you make a sock puppet to agree with you, or any of that kind of nonsense, I will know it. Let's just not go there, okay?
After you have registered, you will have full use of the site. You can start a discussion on the forums, or participate in one already ongoing. You can vote in polls (our first poll is at the bottom left of this page). You can contribute to the wiki. You can post photos in the gallery (nothing pornographic, please).
You may want to go into your user controls, add a signature line and an avatar, and set up your preferences. The avatar and signature will show up on the forums, when you make posts there. If you are wondering what difference it will make, look at the topics I have commented upon in the forums, and you'll see that it's a very big difference from just plain messaging, as you will be easily recognizable.
FORUMS: For those of you unfamiliar with forums, they are extremely easy to use. You can even set it up so that you get a notification when a new topic is entered, or when someone has responded to a thread you are watching. You can make your own topic, if you want, or you can reply to topics already started by others. You can even post videos and photos in your responses, and easily change the layout of your message, whether you want to italicize or even change the color or size of the font. You can preview your messages before they are posted, and you can edit them after they are posted. If you get busy or interrupted, you can also save your comment as a draft, and come back to it later. If you're in a hurry, you can use the "quick post" function.
When you are replying to a particular post, click "quote" on their post, and it will automatically be added to your reply for context. This is actually pretty important, because otherwise we might have five people wondering to whom you are responding.
If you run across someone you really like, or really don't like, you can control how easy it is to contact them, and whether you see their messages. Just go into the user control panel, and click on "friends and foes". I would strongly suggest, however, that you not mark anyone as a "foe" unless you absolutely cannot stand reading anything they write. After all, you might miss important information. Bear in mind, however, that you cannot ignore moderators.
Other than that, just try to make sure your new topics are in the correct category. However, if you accidentally put it in the wrong category, don't worry; just send me a PM and I'll move it for you.
If you click on the topics, you will find that there are numerous subtopics. For example:
> Libertarian Presidential candidates
>> George Phillies
You can make a topic in any of those subject areas, even though they are set up as topics and subtopics. Just check to make sure there isn't already a subtopic for what you want to discuss, and you'll do fine.
If you think of other forum categories we might want to have (and I'm sure there are plenty I have overlooked) just send me a PM, and I'll make sure it's added.
You can give other members "karma" when they write a post you particularly like. Just use that feature responsibly, rather than giving people "karma" just because you know them or like them. The karma feature is specific to the forum, and it only references what they have written in the forum. The purpose of "karma" is to let new members, including those new to the libertarian movement, know how much weight to generally give statements by various members.
The "Ranting and Raving" category is to be used for exactly that. Enter it at your own risk.
PRIVATE MESSAGING: You can communicate with any other LFV member or contributor, even if you don't have their email address, through private messaging (available through the forum).
However, I must say this, since this is a forum which anyone can join. DO NOT harass other members through the PM function. Use the features responsibly, that's all I ask.
CHAT: In addition, we have a chat function through the forum (look at the function bar right above the forum, about in the middle of the page), though of course you may wish to arrange chats in advance to make sure you don't end up talking to yourself.
WIKI: If you are not familiar with how Wikipedia works, take the time to read through the instructions, which I have left intact; all you have to do to see it is click on "Wiki". Once we get the ball rolling, I will start some libertarian wikis for us all to write together.
Of course, if you run into any problems, feel free to send a private message (PM) to me (ElfNinosMom). I've been using these types of programs for years, both as a user and as an administrator, so chances are I will be able to walk you through whatever problem you might encounter.
It is my hope that this setup will get thorough usage, so I can better determine if any changes need to be made in order to accommodate our particular needs.
As stated, this is the beta version, which is why I haven't put it under the domain name yet. If all goes well, this will be the new design for LastFreeVoice.com. You will still be able to bypass the home page by simply by typing the function into the domain name (for example, lastfreevoice.com/blog). When I make that change, I will let everyone know in this space, as well as on the blog.
I think that pretty much covers the basics. Enjoy!