FORUM SOFTWARE AND SITE HOSTING
Visions of Darkness is powered by xenForo, and fully hosted by Dreamhost.com. I've maintained another web site with Dreamhost since 2004, and pay $10/month for unlimited storage and bandwidth, so the cost of maintenance for VoD will never be an issue.
xenForo displays user avatars next to message threads. The theme that VoD uses includes an add-on that displays the avatar of the last user who replied to a thread, located on the right side of thread lists.
The information below highlights important navigation points, and refers to desktop displays:
Log in or Sign up - Located at the top-right corner of your screen. You can also use the teal Sign Up Now! button located below the Search box.
User Control Panel - Mouse over your name, located on the right, below the teal site header. A pop-up window will appear with all available options.
Post New Thread - A teal button located at the top-right of every forum, below the Search box.
#1 / Like / Reply / Quote - Located on the right side of messages. The first button, #1, opens a window displaying a permalink that can be posted on other sites. Since VoD is closed to prying eyes, it serves no viable purpose. The Like button is a one-click approach to let users know you like their post, which can be especially handy in the Galleries. If you Like someone's art, you're also encouraged to post feedback, but it's not compulsory.
Be sure to read the Artist Primer for information on posting your work, getting feedback, and critiquing others.
Conversations - These are xenForo's version of Personal Messages (PMs). They're accessed from the Inbox, located on the right, below the site header, next to your user name. You can either mouse over it to display a pop-up window, or click on it. Unlike traditional PM systems, there is no delete function for Conversations. Instead, you Leave them. You'll find the Leave option in the top-right of any Conversation you're viewing. You can also click a check box below your list of Conversations and select Leave in the pop-up window. You can even Select All and Leave your Conversations en masse.
The YouTube videos below highlight two especially nice features with regard to replying to posts:
There are four ways to check for new posts:
New Posts - This link is located on the end of the navigation bar on the upper-left of your screen, below the site logo. Additionally, the navigation bar appears when you scroll up or down any part of the site you're viewing, giving you instant access to the New Posts link.
Thread Titles - New threads, and those containing new content since you last viewed them, appear in bold and a light shade of teal.
User Avatars - The forum Style used by VoD displays the avatar of the last user who replied to a thread. It's located on the right of thread lists.
Last Message - If you mouse over the title bars of any of the thread list columns, you'll notice they can be clicked on. The last column on the right, labeled [B]Last Message[/B], sorts threads in order of who last replied to them.
xenForo offers the ability to customize the appearance of message boards through the use of Styles. The default style for VoD is called 'xenFracture', and is what you see now.
If you want or need a lighter color scheme, mouse over your name, select Preferences, and then 'Default Style' on the Style drop-down under Browsing Preferences.
xenForo offers a virtual reward system called Trophies which awards points for meeting certain criteria. It sounded like a fun little gimmick, so I enabled it.
If you need any further help navigating the site, or have other questions, please use the Contact Us button on the bottom-right of your screen.