How does ActionForum Work?   The forum serves as a public meeting place where people can share their thoughts and ideas with MoveOn and others.  The forum consists of two lists: a top comments list ordered by how important people feel the comment is, and a recent comments list ordered by time with the most recent at the beginning.  The front page shows the top five top comments with links to view more top comments.  After this is the five most recent comments followed with links to more recent comments.  If you register, you can indicate if you agree--or not--with the comments and how important you feel the comments are.  You can also submit your own comment.  The forum is open to all, so the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of MoveOn or its members.

What are the rules?  Everyone is welcome to comment, and rate the comments of others.  While you can change your ratings at anytime, you can only rate a comment once.  You must abide by the terms of use. 

To participate you must give your real name, occupation, and place of residence.  This information will be shown after your comment as your “signature”.  You must have a valid email address to register and participate.  Your email address will be kept confidential. 

How does MoveOn use ActionForum?  MoveOn monitors the forum for input several times a day and uses the information to help set their agenda.  Comments that are of immediate relevance are forwarded to the appropriate team member usually within hours.  Comments of a more long term nature are compiled weekly in two summaries and passed to the team.  Occasionally topic specific summaries are compiled covering a period of a month or more. 

How can I make sure someone at MoveOn reads my post ?  All comments are read at least twice.  While there is no single criteria, comments that suggest a possible MoveOn action and are not duplicative are likely to be immediately passed on, or included in a summary to the whole MoveOn team.  Ratings, while important, are not definitive and some comments with few or low ratings are included in the summaries.  Important issues are sometimes followed up with a survey to a sampling of the membership. 

Do you really expect me to read all these comments?  No.  One of the reasons for the rating system is so you do not have to read all the comments.  It is enough to read and rate 30 or 40 recent comments--more if you have time--and a similar number of top comments.  Then, if you have something you would like to share you should submit a comment.

Why can't I view the forum by topics?  When forums are divided into topics, people tend to only go to those topics they are interested in.  MoveOn is interested in what a broad range of people think on the different subjects and not just those interested in a particular topic.  MoveOn does occasionally set up single topic forums of limited duration when a specific need lends itself to tapping the creativity of the participants. 

My post is buried in a few hours, what can I do?  How fast a comment moves down the recent comments list is a function of how many people are visiting the forum and not a function of time.  When a comment is “buried” rest assured that a significant number of people has seen the comment.  When a comment receives 10 importance ratings it will automatically appear in the top comments list positioned with comments of a similar average importance rating.  Its position there depends on how important people feel the comment is.  Repeated posting of the same comment is not encouraged and usually results in lower ratings by people who notice the repetitive posting.  

Why are replies to comments sometimes not allowed?   The reply function for forums with a significant number of people commenting is usually turned off.  This is because only a few people read and rate replies when commenting is heavy.  Yet often the replies contain important information.  By having people incorporate their reply into a new comment more people are reached.  You may wish to paraphrase, quote, or copy the score link of the comment you are referring to into your comment.  Regardless, your comment should be able to stand alone. 

How does the Importance Rating work?   For each comment you read, you should rate the quality and appropriateness of the comment on a scale of one to five stars, with five stars being the highest rating. This "Importance Rating" is used to determine the order the comments are viewed in the forum. Comments with the highest average number of stars are put at the top of the top comments list and hence are seen by the most people.  Those rated poorly are put at the bottom and are seen by the fewest people. The comment ratings are submitted when you click on the SUBMIT MY RATINGS button at the bottom of the page. A reply to a comment (when replies are turned on) is rated the same way, only they are ordered under each comment.

Why is there a separate area for Recent Comments?   New comments are not inserted into the "top" comments list until a number of participants have rated them.  This number is currently set at ten. This insures that when a comment is inserted it is relatively close to where most people think it should be.   Recent comments also serves as a chronological listing of all comments.

Does agreement influence a comment's position?   When you rate a comment, you can indicate whether you agree or disagree with the comment. Under each comment, you will see the percentage of participants who agree. This percentage does not influence the comment's position. This reflects the fact that an unpopular comment can still be important and a key part of the discussion. If you ever change your mind about a comment, you can simply log in and change your ratings. Be sure to click on the SUBMIT MY RATINGS button at the end of the page so your new ratings are recorded, the old ratings deleted, and the score page updated.

Just what does your moderator do?   Our moderators are better described as monitors.  They spend the vast majority of their time looking for comments to pass on to the MoveOn team and doing weekly forum summaries.  With regard to moderating, their goal is to help create a space to facilitate input.  It is not their goal to remove every comment that might be inappropriate.  The first line of moderators are our members, who rate inappropriate comments low.  

How can I view the older comments in the forum?  First move down into the list to comment 6 or more.  Then, modify the url line in your browser by changing the number immediately after “offset=” to one less than the number your want to skip down to.  Then click return and the desired comment should come up on top of the list. 

How can I view more than 5 comments per page?  First go down the list to comment 6 or more, then modify the url line in your browser by changing the number immediately after “count=” to the number of comments you would like to view at one time and click return.  You will then be able to view comments by the number you chose.  It is best not to view more than 100 comments at a time. 

How do I search the forum?  ActionForum does not have a search function.  You may want to use your browser's find function to search each page you download.  

How can I find my comment?  After you submit your comment it will automatically appear at the top of the recent comments list.  If you go to the front page, scroll down past the five top comments you will see the beginning of the recent comments list.  Your comment should be among the first few comments on this list.  You may have to refresh your screen in order to see your comment.  If you bookmark the score link of your comment you will be easily able to find it in the future.  

Can/should I rate my own comment?  Should I tell others about it?  There is nothing wrong with rating your own comment—once--or with sending an email to your friends telling them you just wrote a comment and asking them to rate it.  

How do I withdraw my comment ?  If you sign in and go to your comment you will see a withdraw comment link directly under your comment.  Click on this link and then confirm that you want to remove your comment.  Your comment will automatically be removed.   The withdraw comment link does not mean we want you to withdraw your comment.  It is our belief that people who post comments should be able to withdraw their comments for any reason if they wish.

How do I change my occupation in my signature line?  To change your occupation, just click on the following link: http://www.actionforum.org/forum/change_info.html

and sign in with your user name and password. This page will look like the ordinary sign in page, but after you sign in you will be sent to a page where you can modify your profile.  Just follow the directions.

What does the invalid email address error message mean?  This means that your email address is not registered with ActionForum.  You should click on the sign in link on the ActionForum toolbar and follow the instructions for first time users. 

What does the invalid user name/password error message mean?  It usually means that the password is not correct.  Try again and if the same error message comes up you might try the link to change your pass word.  If you get a new password, you will be given a chance to change it to something you can easily remember the first time you sign in. 

What does the server error message mean?  There are many reasons for the server error message.  The system might be down for maintenance, it might be overloaded, or the comment requested may no long exist.  Try hitting the reload button.  If the problem persists wait a while and try again.

     If you get a server error message while trying to sign in it may mean that your email address is not in the database.  If you have not registered in the past to use ActionForum with the email address you should try registering as a first time user.  To do this click on the sign in link and scroll down to where it says, “If this is your first time…” and follow the directions.