Help: Posting Topics, Polls and Events

Since posting messages is basically what forums are all about, we will spend some time looking at the various options and techniques available. Those who are familiar with forum software, HTML or bulletin board code in general may prefer to skip straight to the Bulletin Board Code and Smileys references.

Please note that, because an SMF forum may be customized extensively by its administrator(s), the presence of a feature in this documentation does not necessarily mean that it will be available to all users in all forums.

  1. Posting Basics
    1. Starting a New Topic
    2. Starting a New Poll
    3. Posting an Event to the Calendar
    4. Replying to a Topic or Poll
    5. Quoting a Post
    6. Modifying or Deleting a Post
  2. Standard Posting Options
    1. Message Icon
    2. Bulletin Board Code
    3. Smileys
  3. Tags and Nesting (for beginners)
  4. Additional Options
    1. Notify me of replies.
    2. Return to this topic.
    3. Don't use smileys.
    4. Attachments

Posting Basics

Starting a New Topic

Browse to the board where you wish to post and click the New Topic button (positioned by default at both the top and the bottom of the board, as shown in the User Help Introduction), which should take you to the Start new topic screen. While this presents a number of options, the two most important are the Subject field and main Message field (not labeled as such, but obvious by its size). So enter your subject and start to type (or paste) your message into the main text area, noting that a message missing either a subject or a body will not be accepted for posting until it has both. If you're happy with your plain text message, you can then post it by clicking the Post button and/or preview it first by clicking the Preview button, but there are many further options available to make things that little bit more interesting.

  • Some forums show the navigation tree at the top in a space-saving horizontal mode.
  • Some forums may be configured to offer an additional Spell Check button alongside the Post and Preview options.

Starting a New Poll

A poll is basically a topic with an added question and voting options, started by clicking New Poll instead of New Topic as described above. To post a poll it is necessary to fill out the Question field and at least two of the Option fields in addition to the Subject and Message fields required by a standard topic. Further options to configure how many choices the user may vote for, how long the poll should run, whether users can change their votes and what conditions must be fulfilled for the results to be displayed should be self-explanatory.

To offer more than five choices in a poll, simply click Add Option as many times as necessary.

Note that it may also be possible for some users in some forums to add a poll to an existing topic.

Posting an Event to the Calendar

Where this option has been configured (it's not standard 'out of the box'), you can post an event by selecting Calendar from the main menu followed by Post Event from the calendar screen. What you see now is a Start new topic screen with supplementary fields for the event title, date and target board, which simply add your event to the calendar and create a link back to your post in that board.

Replying to a Topic or Poll

Replying to a topic or poll is basically the same as starting a new topic, but it's not necessary to enter anything in the Subject field unless you wish to change what's already there. To vote in a poll, you simply have to select your chosen option(s) and click Submit Vote.

If 'Quick Reply' has been enabled, a simple reply field will also appear after the post(s) on a page, but you'll have to type your Bulletin Board Code and Smileys manually if you choose to use it.

Quoting a Post

To reply to a post by quoting it, you can either click the Quote button for the relevant post and add your own message to the quoted text or click the Reply button followed by Insert Quote from the relevant post in the 'Topic Summary' below, but note that:

  • Both these options add a link to the original post showing the name of the poster and the date and time of the post, whereas the Bulletin Board Code quote tag simply quotes the relevant post without this additional information.
  • You can also retain or add the 'author' attribute independently of the full Quote function, as demonstrated in the SMF Bulletin Board Code Reference below.

Modifying or Deleting a Post

To modify a post, click the Modify button and make your changes. Note that most forums are likely to be configured to show the date and time of the last edit, but the administrator(s) may also allow a short period to elapse before this happens.

To delete a post, click the Delete button followed by OK from the Remove this message? box that appears. Some forums may also allow you to remove topics or polls that you start, but the buttons for these are usually at the bottom of the page.

Standard Posting Options

Message icon:
BoldItalicizedUnderlineStrikethrough|Glow ShadowMarquee|Preformatted Text Left Align CenteredRight Align|Horizontal Rule|Font SizeFont Face
Insert FlashInsert ImageInsert HyperlinkInsert Email Insert FTP Link|Insert TableInsert Table RowInsert Table Column|SuperscriptSubscriptTeletype| Insert CodeInsert Quote|Insert List
Smiley Wink Cheesy Grin Angry Sad Shocked Cool Huh Roll Eyes Tongue Embarrassed Lips Sealed Undecided Kiss Cry

Message Icon

This drop-down menu allows you to change the default icon for the subject line to something matching the mood or purpose of your post.

Bulletin Board Code

Bulletin Board Code (or BBC) is the essential tool for formatting and changing the appearance of your post. While it affects the plain text in much the same way as the formatting tools in any word processor, the main Message field does not behave in a WYSIWYG manner, so you should preview your message if you need to see what it will look like when posted.

A complete SMF Bulletin Board Code Reference is provided below.


While smileys can be viewed as purely whimsical in nature, they can also play a valuable role in clarifying the written word in much the same way as vocal inflections and/or facial expressions clarify the spoken word. Like most forum software, SMF provides a standard range of smiley images which can be added to posts by clicking the relevant icons or typing the relevant codes. A don't use smileys option is naturally also provided for those occasions when you don't want typed character combinations that would normally be displayed as smileys to be converted to the expected images!

A complete SMF Smileys Reference is provided below.

Tags and Nesting (for beginners)

Before listing the available BBC buttons and their purposes, let's see how they work by imagining that we want to post some text in bold type. While we can start by clicking the B (Bold) button and typing our text between the tags it produces, it's often more practical to type the text first, highlight it and then click the button. So typing 'text', highlighting it and clicking the 'B' button should produce '[b]text[/b]', which renders as text when posted or previewed. (NB This doesn't work in Opera, which inserts the tags at the end of the post.) Subsequently highlighting '[b]text[/b]' and clicking the I (Italicized) button will produce '[i][b]text[/b][/i]', which not only renders as text when posted or previewed but also introduces the concept of nesting, which means that each new set of tags in a case like this should be seen as a new 'box' containing both the original text and any tags already applied to it.

Note that the BBC tags can also be typed and edited direct instead of clicking the buttons.

Additional Options

The following options may appear by default in some forums but be contained within an expanding/collapsing panel (try clicking the link with the arrow below!) in others:

+ Additional Options...
 Notify me of replies.
 Return to this topic.
 Don't use smileys.

Allowed file types: txt, jpg, gif, pdf, mpg, png
Maximum attachment size allowed: 128 KB

shortcuts: hit alt+s to submit/post or alt+p to preview

Notify me of replies

Check this to subscribe to email notification for the topic.

Return to this topic

Check this to return to the topic (instead of the message index) after posting (NB you can also set this behavior as a preference in your profile).

Don't use smileys

Check this to prevent certain character combinations in your post from being parsed and rendered as smileys.


If enabled, this feature allows you to attach files to your posts in much the same way as most email clients, so you simply have to browse to the relevant file(s) on your computer before clicking Post. You can delete your attachment(s) or add more by modifying your post, but please note that:

  • The permitted file types and sizes are set by the forum administrator(s).
  • Although most forums are likely be configured to display attached images as part of the post, it's not possible to preview attachments so you should always browse to and attach your files just before you finally post your message.