Around The Site in 80 Ways - forums

A one-page look at the running world's friendliest forums


Posted: 14 September 2004

Contents

  1. Finding your way around
  2. Speed-reading the forums
  3. How to post a message
  4. Forum folk and forum etiquette
  5. Advanced features
  6. Forumites in real life

In a nutshell

Runner's World's forums are like the world's biggest, friendliest meeting place for runners - except that you type out your conversations and you never know who's going to chip in next.

As well as being an exceptional place to spend a social hour or two, they're where you can tap the collective knowledge of over 140,000 runners, from first-timers to wizened oldies like the RW staff.

Here’s a guide to help you get started – peppered with helping hands from the forum folk themselves.

Finding your way around

On the forum, no beginner is too new, no question too obvious - and sometimes, no conversation too far removed from running. To keep things intelligible, there are separate folders for different topics - including beginners, training, events, and general nonsense.

"What can a beginner expect? Help, friendship, advice, invitations to socials, people to meet up with at races, P45…" - Nessie

You can ask how to get rid of a stitch, whether anyone is going to the Deenes Doone Run, what the new Asics Gel Kayano is like - or on weightier matters, who you fancy most on ER. An automated email message (if you want one) will tell you when someone's replied.

If you click on the main forum tab (circled below), you'll see folders for various forum topics. In them, you'll see all of that topic's conversations (or 'threads'). The conversations with the newest replies will be listed first.

To jump to another topic folder, you can either click the main forum tab again, or click the folder names in the dark-blue bar under the tabs.

Here's a swift guide to the folders:

General: Perfect if you've got a running question or point that won't fit into another folder. There's some non-running chat in here, but it mostly belongs in the 'Unofficial RW Forum Running Club ' folder (below)

Beginners: A total safe haven for newcomers. As well as beginners finding themselves in the same boat, many old-timers drop in to offer advice.
"Don't think for one second that your problem will sound silly - we've all been there" - Nessie.

Training: This is purely for training advice - but for all levels, from the ultra-simple to the totally technical
"Where else would I have found one of my best friends and greatest coaches…" - H

Health + Injury: This includes some excellent long-running weight-loss threads, as well as advice for getting crocked runners back on the trails. Our readers have thousands of injuries-worth of experience - but on a sensible note, there's no substitute for getting an injury professionally looked at.
"Best to see a qualified physio if you have a sports problem, just in case." - The Count

Gear: Product loves, hates and questions. Often linked to our shoe guide reviews.
"There are a few very knowledgeable people on the forum..." - Urban Road Runner

Events: Going to a race? Just been? This is where runners ask and answer questions and sometimes arrange to meet up at events. Often linked to our race listings.
"Some threads are sharp and to the point - others are long-term mutual support threads." - barnsleyrunner

The Unofficial RW Forum Running Club: Home of general chat and miscellaneous rants. Yes, everyone seems to know each other. Yes, it's home of the funniest threads in the forums…
"Expect Jon, Dangerous Dave, Dodge and Fat Buddah to hijack your thread within seconds!" - Hula Hoop

Flora London Marathon Busy throughout the year...

Triathlon / Ultra / Adventure racing etc: (Gasp!) Non-conventional running...

Speed-reading the forums

Above the forum topic folders you'll notice a function that can make navigation even easier. It looks just like this:

The discussion bar has four links, which do what their names suggest:

Keep yourself up-to-date with the very latest replies.
Align the forums by the newest discussions.
Hot Threads will show the most popular threads right across the forums.
This is the default setting.

Another useful starting point is the 'Best of the Forum' pod – usually towards the top-left of the forum. The Best of the Forum pages are a good place to start if you have a question that you think may have been answered already - they're hundreds of hand-picked links under different headings.

How to post a message

By now you've had a rummage to see what on earth the forums are about, dipped into a few threads and become familiar with the forums. Now you can do three things:

  • Just hang out and read other people's messages (affectionately known as 'lurking')
  • Reply to a message
  • Pop in a new question or topic of your own

Replying

Replying to a message is a smashing way to get involved (and even if you've only been running for a week, you can really encourage people with just a few words).

To reply, you need to have registered as a free site member. Then, at the bottom of every forum conversation, you'll see a box that lets you add your own message (just like the one below). Type your reply straight into the box, press 'Submit', and pow! You've contributed to a forum thread. (Remember you'll need to be logged in to post a message).

NB: your message will appear at the bottom of the thread. If you're replying to a point made earlier, and the conversation has moved on a bit, it's a good idea to say so. (eg "Dave: ....'; or 'I agree with the question about...')

"Oh and there's no edit function...I was going to say think before you post....but I never do!" - Count

To start a completely new conversation:

Click on the folder you want it to appear in. Just above all the thread titles are the words '1 to 40 of 66111 threads. To post a new thread click here'. Click there! Choose a title and an optional subtitle (eg title 'New 5K runner saying hello'; subtitle 'Any tips? I'm nervous!')

Four tips for best answers... (not that you need us to tell you how to talk)

  • Check the 'Best of forum' pages first, to see whether your question has been answered in the past. People usually don't mind covering the same ground again, but it's polite to have looked.
  • Be a fraction realistic. It's not too surprising that the posts that say 'I am doing an A Level about sports exercise. I need all your opinions on running and sport. Tim' go unanswered, entertaining as they are.
  • "Make sure your thread title says enough that people can decide whether to visit." – lp
  • Turn response notification on, for an email alert when someone replies.

Adding links

You can make life easy for your fellow forumites by providing clickable links to websites you might mention. It might take a few attempts before you get the hang of it.

All you need to do is write
<a href="
then (with no spaces after the quotes) the full address of the website you want to link to, including http://
then (still with no spaces) " and the text you want to make clickable
then </a>

For example, if you put this in a forum post:
<a href="http://walkers.corpex.com/cr15p5/index.htm">Crisps are a runner's best friend</a>
It would appear like this to other readers: Crisps are a runner's best friend

Simple, eh?

To attach a conversation to an article or race listing:

Another good way to start a forum thread is to scroll to the bottom of an article or race listing you want to talk about.

There, you'll find a link that says:

Your message will appear in the forums as normal, with two bonuses: there'll be a link to the article or race listing at the top of your message; and an extra link to your message at the bottom of the article or listing. Neat!

Nicknames...

You can personalise all sorts of forum settings (more about that later), but the one that most people do before they post is their nickname. Unless you do this, your real name will appear by your messages. Just click on your details page and edit your member profile to give yourself a moniker.

Forum Speak

Fortunately for newcomers, the RW forums are remarkably free of mysterious in-phrases. Here are a few of the terms that even the old folk at RW can understand:
Boing: posting a message in order to move a thread higher up a folder
Caz: to delete - as in 'RW cazzed my thread'
Peeps: people. Simple, eh?
Post: a message/reply within a thread
Thread: a conversation within the forums
Troll: person who posts outrageous messages to bait people to answer
Acronyms and emotions

If you're under 20, you'll know these already:

CU: See you
LMHO: Laughing my head off
LOL: Laugh out loud
ROFL: Rolling on floor laughing
BTW: By the way
NP: No problem
BRB: Be right back
IMO: In my opinion

: ( Sad
: ) Smile
b:-( Frown
:-@ Screaming
((())) Hugging
* Kiss
; ) Wink
; )D Winking and laughing
=0 Surprised

Go on, frighten yourself with a full list of acronyms and emoticons

Forum folk and forum etiquette

Joining in the forums is like turning up at a huge running club that welcomes runners at all levels. Just being yourself is a very good rule of thumb, unless you're naturally obnoxious, in which case trying extra hard to be polite and interested might be a fine idea.

In the forums, you'll find 'normal' running threads, chatty threads, a few very, very long threads, and some familiar faces cropping up again and again. Many of those forum regulars drop into all sorts of threads to offer advice or encouragement - you'll soon find out who's most specialised in what. The very long threads are often a kind of meeting place for like-minded runners (eg on weight loss, or starting out).

You don't have to know anything at all about the other people in your conversation, but here’s a tip: "If you lurk for a while, you’ll realise that xxx is actually a really experienced runner, so suggesting they try different shoes is not going to be that useful, or that yyy understands very well the normal rules for improving your running but has other issues which mean they just won't work for them. And you're less likely to accidentally put people’s noses out of joint." - lp

"Lots of forumites have very specific areas of knowledge and it is a learning process knowing who to ask what." – Plum

"We have doctors, dentists, accountants, lawyers, techie peeps, nutritionists, and everyone else under the sun. You'll soon get steered in the direction of the person who can help you best." - Nessie

Click on a person's name in the forum to see whether they've filled any details in their profile.

"I think it is important to keep your profile up to date. It helps when people want to give you advice as well as let you see how experienced the people giving advice are (ok, so people could lie, but I don't think that happens round here)." - Jen*

Forum conventions

We try to be grown up about managing the forums, so the only real rules are the heavy terms and conditions you signed up to (no obscenity, no commerce, no impersonation...) But you might find these guidelines helpful...
  • For security, don't post your phone number or address on the forum.
  • "99% of the people who post on here are nice. Don't be put off by the 1% who are nasty." - Nessie
  • "Don't forget good manners - if you post a problem and people help, then don't just read it and be done - a quick thank you takes no time at all and acknowledges that you have returned to your thread as well as bumping it up the page." - Inux
  • Don't get too offended if someone posts a view that you're not in agreement with. "Everyone is entitled to an opinion... whether you disagree or not." - The Count
  • "Boasting is bad.... although achievements are good (does that make any sense?) " - Fat Buddha
  • No blatant promotion of events; no asking for charity funds; no selling of goods. Your post will be removed and you'll get a ticking off – they're the rules!
  • "Don't type in CAPS or LiKe ThIs - and text-message speak is not cool either."
  • Some threads are there to provoke a reaction so don't take things too seriously
  • "Don't feed the trolls unless they're being really entertaining!" - Lp
  • "Never drink when reading a funny thread unless you have screen wipes... " - The Count
  • "Never, ever, ever use the R word on here. R*n, is acceptable, r*nning is not much better, but never the full word. It's just not what these forums were designed for." – Dan Dan

Advanced features

How the forum preferences, links and buttons work...

Response notification

If you want to receive an automatic email notification when someone adds to a conversation you've contributed to, tick 'Email notification when response is made?' under the box where you type your message. Great for quiet threads - maybe not for very popular ones, unless you want hundreds of email alerts.

(You can control whether this tickbox defaults to on or off, on your 'My forum' page. NB: you cannot use this setting to switch existing notifications on or off; they work on a thread by thread basis.)

To turn existing notifications off, be sure that you are logged in on the website, and then click on the 'disable notification' link in the notification email you receive.

Alternatively, when you next post a message on the relevant thread, tick 'disable email notification' underneath the box where you type your message, before you click 'submit'. This will override the original setting.

'E-mail enabled'

This option appears as a tickbox above the box where you type a new forum message (just to the right of '[Your name] says:') If you tick this, it allows people to send you an email via the website, without your email address being shown. They will only know your email address if you choose to reply to their email. To save time, you can choose whether 'E-mail enabled' defaults to on or off, on your 'My Profile' page
"I do email peeps and don't mind peeps emailing me!" - BB.

'Show my details'

Anyone who posts a message can share a bit about their running with the rest of the forums. Just click on any forumite's name to find out whether they've given themself a profile (this also links to their previous posts, race ratings any articles they've written)

...and you can keep your details private by simply un-ticking the boxes in your forum profile page.

Forum controls

You can customise the way the forums work for you by clicking on my forum (below). Whether you want to see other peoples' forum faces, receive response notifications, or enter a thread at the first or last post, it's up to you.

Report to moderator


The forum moderators mainly work in response to reader complaints (fortunately, there are very few). If you come across a thread or post that offends you, drop us a line.

Forumites in real life...

The forums are a sterling way of finding yourself with instant friends at races. Many event forum threads contain offers of running partners, or people to meet with before or after the race. Some mushroom into huge forum gatherings, where the blue and yellow vests of the Unofficial RW Forum Running Club are seen in abundance. (The London Marathon, GRIM and Tough Guy are three fine examples)

There are also regular forum socials around the country. They're amazing. You just turn up to the designated pub, spot the likely people, and then start conversations with friendly runners you've never met before. We try to keep a list of forum socials and race gatherings, which we hope is useful.

"Do go to socials or meet at events if you can, as you get to see the people behind the names. Jon doesn't even have two heads; Waapster does look like his picture." - Dodge

There's a great photo archive of forum events and socials at forumite Richk's website.

Finally... posting at work

Ask any forumite and they'll tell you just how addictive the forums can be. One tip:

"Perfect the 'I'm working not laughing' face at home before attempting to use the forums at work or you'll get in trouble. Learn to manage your time and prioritise before using the forum at work - you'll soon learn why if you don't!" - The Evil Pixie


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Discuss this article

Okay, so I'm not exactly quoted in the article, but my forum picture's on the front page!

I feel honoured to be included amongst such exalted company.
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 13:47

I wonder what the criteria was for selection.
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 13:57

I never stood a chance.
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 14:01

a dodgy photo ?
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 14:01

That would explain it.
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 14:03

imagine what non-forumites think when they first see it. is that a random spread, or what.

congrats to all who made the cut.
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 15:00

A rogues gallery.

:)
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 15:07

think it was those who contributed to the thread RW started
I'm in there - just - and also I'm the last quote on the article!!
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 15:51

I didn't.... !
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 15:53

I did!
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 15:53

I noticed...
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 15:54

Tee hee
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 15:56

Pah! I knew they wouldn't put my trademarked album cover there!
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 17:27

Just did a lap of the front room as I am quoted on there!!! WHHAAAAAHHH!!!

(this is the height of my fame on the forums so far methinks.... I still think of myself as a newbie)

Unfortunately my quote is boring about profiles, but at least they mention it!!

Will it be in the magazine next month!???!
Posted: 15/09/2004 at 20:09

Doh! Obviously my sealed bid didnt contain enough used fivers!

I always knew Minkeys were rich!
Posted: 16/09/2004 at 16:29

Dodge - you got in because you are so cute and so intelligent for a little boy ;)
Posted: 16/09/2004 at 17:15

angry looking cat with lime on head....hmmm excellent choice!
Posted: 16/09/2004 at 17:24

cute little red snowman :))
Posted: 16/09/2004 at 17:30

Well done you guys - I'm famous too:

On the merry hill striders home page

http://members.lycos.co.uk/seasonboy/MerryHillStriders.html

running/swimming at the suicide six in Wolverhampton (my heads popping out of the water)

Ive been on the home page for almost 2 years and there used to be a caption underneath taking the mick out of me by name. It's in November if anyones interested?

(all coz I jumped into 'the deep bit'!)
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:00

Will this new found fame change your life? Are you happy? Will you still want to associate with us plebs??


Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:03

"cute little red snowman"

....is that what it is, I never had the nerve to ask what the heck it was.

:)
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:06

Of course I will still mingle with the 'also rans' - I am quite proud tho coz I'll never have my piccie anywhere for being 'a good runner' or for wearing an outrageous costume so it is quite nice.
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:07

Looked like some type of bird to me.
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:08

How do u make red snow?

Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:08

White snow - yep
Yellow snow - hmmmmmmm ok!
Red snow?
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:09

By-product of Arctic warfare?
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:13

Noticed, I am quoted too on the same web page.
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 12:35

Ha ha dodge - I always thought it had something to do with Wayne Bobbit!
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 14:20

Front page of the Forum - thats nothing - front of Buck Palace - that's class!
Posted: 17/09/2004 at 18:31

no piccy but a few quotes...must have been bored that day...
Posted: 28/09/2004 at 11:06

Them or you?

;)
Posted: 28/09/2004 at 11:10

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