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JREF Forum Newsletter - 20th June 2007
JREF Forum Newsletter - 20th June 2007
Submitted by Darat
20th June 2007
Post JREF Forum Newsletter - 20th June 2007

JREF Forum Newsletter – 20th June 2007

A farewell, a thank-you, and a promotion

One of our Administrators, Raja stepped down on 11th June after being a member of the Moderating Team for just over 4 years. In that time, Raja has helped look after the Forum and been an integral part of the Moderating Team. On behalf of everyone on the Moderating Team, I’d like to thank him for all the hard work and effort he’s put into ensuring the Forum is as the JREF wants it to be. (And a personal thank-you for the great support he extended to me when I first joined the Moderating Team.)

Raja leaving created a vacancy for another Administrator and I’m pleased to say that Lisa Simpson has accepted a promotion from Deputy Administration to Administrator.

Update on the “Sitemeter issue”

You may recall that I recently sent a PM to all Members informing them about a potential issue with one of the 3rd party ‘trackers’ we had installed on the Forum. (A ‘tracker’ is a small piece of code on a webpage that helps provide a website owner with public information about visitors to their site, for instance it may include the number of visits, how long a visitor stayed connected to the site, what browser they used to view the site and so on.)

After some investigation I have concluded that there was no breach of our privacy statement regarding the particular tracker we were using (Sitemeter). However I have been disappointed with the service from that provider so we will no longer be using their tracker. At the moment we are testing “Google Analytics” on the Forum and it looks as if we will be using that in future.

A few Members asked why we need to gather the type of information we do so I thought I’d try to explain why we use trackers from time to time. Having this information helps us ensure that the Forum is accessible and useable to as many visitors as possible. For instance we had a concern a while ago regarding the drop-down menus the Forum uses since these require javascript to be active, by gathering data from our visitors we were able to check if that would cause a problem for visitors or not. (It isn’t a problem - at the moment 98.07% have javascript active when viewing the Forum).

New features

Snap Shots

In the last newsletter I mentioned we were testing out a new feature called ‘Snap Shots’. We’ve decided to keep it installed so I thought I’d mention it again.

Snap Shots is a simple and quick way to preview where a link on the Forum will take you to if you click on it. If you have it switched on wherever there is a link to an external site (in someone’s post, in a menu and so on) you will see a small icon next to the link (), hovering your mouse over the icon displays a small graphical preview of the page the link will take you to.

For example:

For some sites Snap Shots can display more than just an image, for example a link to a YouTube video will play in the pop-up bubble, a link to a Wikipedia article will display a short extract from the article.

For example:

Snap Shots is by default set to “off”; to switch it on just go to Edit Options>Miscellaneous Options>Snap Shots and click on the Snap Shots’ box.

Moderated threads

As announced last month the [Moderated Thread] feature is up and running and the Mod Team has pretty much got the wrinkles all ironed out. We've also published a set of general guidelines for [Moderated Thread]s see: [Moderated Thread] Guidelines.

The Mod Team will also accept requests to moderate any thread you start, if you wish to have a very strictly moderated thread to discuss a specific subject. Granting such a request will be done on a case-by-case basis. The best way to have a thread accepted for a moderated discussion is to send a brief PM to either Lisa Simpson (or me), explaining what the subject will be and why you think it requires a moderated thread.

Digg that!

Sometime in the next few days I’ll be adding a new feature that will allow Members who also use the Digg site ( to quickly “digg” a thread. (For those of you that haven’t a clue what Digg is you can read about it here: About Digg.) All you’ll need to do is click on the Digg icon (Digg). Since this is fully integrated with the Forum once a thread has been "digged" visitors clicking on the thread link on the thread starter will get credited with 1 Digg and the Digg button on the thread gets updated. (This requires you to be registered with Digg.)

Once it is installed I'll post more detailed instructions.

Linking to the Forum

Based on suggestions and requests from several Members we’ve created some images you can download and use on your own websites, blogs, Myspace, other forums and the like to link to the JREF Forum. These are:





An example of how you can use these, to use the as a link simple insert this into your HTML:

There are more examples of how to use these graphics on this page: Links page

Old stuff you may not know about

Members (even longtime Members) occasionally come across a feature that they were not aware of, several Members have suggested that we remind people of some of the less obvious features we have installed on the Forum.

Customizing “Get New Posts”

You can decide to exclude certain Forum sections so that when you click on “New Posts” it does not show you new posts from those sections.

UserCP>Edit Options>Miscellaneous Options>Exclude Forums from "Get New Posts"

(To select multiple sections hold down the “CTRL” key when selecting the sections.)

Customizing the smiley list

As you may be aware we have quite a few smilies installed beyond the small list that is shown next to a “New Post” edit box, and whilst you can always click on more to get the list of all the smilies if you have some favorites you wish to have quick access to you can customize the smilie list.

Select “User Control Panel” from the UserCP menu, then on the left-hand side under “Settings & Options" click on “Edit Favorite Smilies”. This will display a screen with all of the smilies on it and next to each one is a small checkbox, simply click on the checkbox next to the smilie you wish to appear on your list, to clear your selection just click again.

(Note this page loads every single smilie so can take quite a while to download all of them because of this we don’t recommend you use this feature if you are on a dial-up or slow connection.)

And Finally

Yes there is an end... to this section at least.

I'm sure many of you will be aware that we send a "Welcome PM" to all new Members once their account is activated, in this we try to give "newbies" some pointers to the Forum. However it doesn't cover everything so as an extension to this Chillzero has come up with a page that expands on the content of the Welcome PM and mentions some additional helpful pointers and information for newcomers. (You'll find a link to this in the "Help" menu and you can also link directly to it in any post: 'New Members - Hints & Tips'.

So if you see a new Member struggling settling in here it may be helpful to them if you suggest they read over the page.

And that is all for now, see you on the Forum.



JREF News.

Join James Randi, "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait, on a journey of exploration, conversation, and edification to the Galapagos Islands.

Aug 10-21, 2008, 11 Nights leaving from Quito, Ecuador and visitng 13 ports in the Galapagos. We've chartered the entire ship, so this is truly a "JREF" voyage. This is a once in a lifetime voyage and is not to be missed! Click here for more info.

The Amaz!ng Meeting 5.5:Skepticism and Activism

Weekend of Saturday, January 26, 2008

This special one-day TAM will be unlike any other. With a new level of audience interaction, new speakers, and a new format, this will be a unique opportunity to experience a more intimate gathering with your fellow skeptics. Click here for more info.

Quarterly Newsletter

The JREF will be publishing a quarterly newsletter. Those interested in submitting an article for it should contact for more information.

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