Before you do anything else, you must read these rules, and keep in mind that you are still bound to the rules provided by our Terms of Service. Many sections of the forums have additional rules that are specific only to that section. It may seem like a lot, but most of them are really just common sense, so please read through them and abide by them. You have been warned—there's no excuse.
Terms of Service
Frequently Asked Questions
Staff Informational Blogs
Your Settings/User Panel
The first thing you're going to want to do when you join a forum is take a quick overview of your panel.
The thread found here describes it in it's full and glorious detail, but briefly, your panel contains your name, member title, avatar, warn level, year and offline/online status. Even if you don't want to learn about it for your own sake, read up on this topic and get to know it so that you can better learn more about the other users on the forums.
All new members have to go through a validating phase before they can become full-fledged members. This is fully explained here. You cannot obtain an icon/avatar, choose a house, or enter a signature until you have posted at least 3 visible posts. This is to prevent spambots from posting advertisements on HPFF.
To set your avatar, go to My Settings (found in the drop-down box accessed by clicking your username in the upper right-hand corner of your screen) then the Change your photo... button.
You're done! Currently, you might not be able to see your avatar. That is a problem caused by a cluttered cache. To correct it, simply hold down the CTRL key on your computer and press the refresh button in your web browser. You may need to do this once or twice but your avatar will appear with no problem.
A signature is the area of text that appears beneath posts. If you look at mine, there are several links in it. Some will have images and some will be text only. This area is for a few personal quotes or links to your stories. It's a little piece of personal to follow your posts. To add a signature, enter My Settings again and, this time, select Signature from the left-hand menu. A text box, like the normal reply box, will appear. Simply enter your text or create your links. Press Save and you're all set!
If you want to make an image "active" (i.e., a link) you can do so by entering the image code inside the text area for a URL like so.
[url="Link Here"][img]Image URL Here[/img][/url]
Make sure to rate your links!
Other Control Panel Settings
Within the control panel, there are a few other things you might want to change. For example, your local time. Simply click My Settings and you will see a drop-down box that allows you to select your local timezone. All posts on the board will be reflected as being posted at your local time. Take some time to look around your settings and see what other options they offer you.
Things You're Already Wondering About
Houses. Oh, how we love thee! HPFF does have a house sorting and competition system. For information on how to join a house, see this topic.
People with a professor pip are senior staff members. People with validator pips are--you guessed it!--part of HPFF's validating team. People wearing the moderator pip are the forum moderators. They are a great bunch of people who manage things from the Thread Masterlists to tidying up areas of the site. The staff members all really friendly and if you have a question about anything on the site, they're one of your best resources. You can see a full list of HPFF's staff members here.
The prefect pip represents prefect members on our board. They are senior members who have been an active part of the community and are deemed to be responsible, helpful people. To get access to your house common room or if you simply have a question about navigating the board, a prefect can be a very helpful person to have around. They also serve as forum mentors, if you're in need of some extra help. You can see a full list of currently active prefects here.
Finding The Important Things
Odds are that you joined our forums for a reason—right? Either to ask a question, talk about a new idea you had or find a story reccomendation. Each forum and sub-forum here has a specific purpose and it's own list of rules or ettiquite. Briefly, however, here is a list of the forums, their purposes and links to their general guidelines.
This section of the forums houses the most up to date information about the site. It will be updated periodically with important things and it's always a good idea to stop in and read any thread posted here.
Ask The Staff
The Ask the Staff section is an area to ask a question about the site or forums. You can report problems or questions about the site here. Before doing so, however, you must make sure that the question isn't covered somewhere else on the forums. ONLY staff members are allowed to answer questions posted in this section.
Much like Site Information, Staff Messages is an important forum to keep up to date on when new threads are created. It can house important updates as well as more minor updates, rule reminders, thank you's, etc.
This section is an area to discuss the various site-wide competitions we host, including House Cups and Writer's Duels.
Potter's World [FAQs]
The Potter's World section houses informational topics and supplementary discussions related to Potter's World. Potter's World is an HPFF sister-site and a Harry Potter themed Role Playing Game.
This section is for making or responding to suggestions about new features of the site. (This is not, however, your personal playground to rant and rave about your story rejection or how you think the site's terms of service is sending the place to the dogs.)
Archive Issues & Forum Issues
Is the archive "down"? Do you have a problem getting to some pages? These are the places to report archive or forum glitches. Please do look around first. Odds are, someone has already created a thread for the problem you would like to report.
Story Recommendations [Rules]
This area is where we recommend good stories we read, and find new things to read. While there's a very good likely hood the ship or genre you're looking for has already been posted, if you find something new, please feel free to post it in the appropriate area. This is, truthfully, one of the most useful areas of the site.
Help Needed [Rules]
Help Needed and Help Offered were formerly two seperate forums designed to serve those authors who found themselves needing assistance with a particular aspect of their story, from reviews to beta reading to input on a character name choice—it's a one stop shop!
Looking for feedback on your writing?
Reviews Offered [Rules]
Need someone to help you edit a story?
Beta Reading Offered/Wanted [Rules]
This area is chock full or information about the writing process. In the general section you'll find articles and lists posted by members about the do's and dont's of writing. In the sub-forums, you'll notice threads and articles about specific subjects, like grammar and reviews. The Writer's Resource Archive houses some of the most thorough and helpful topics about writing.
Meet the Author [Rules]
This section of our site is a place for authors to post threads and, once they have, readers of their stories and fans of their work are encouraged to pop on in and post questions they might have for them.
Story Challenges [Rules]
Have you ever seen a story on the archive that says "This was written in response to the _____ challenge?" This section is where they all came from. Here, you can post and respond to writing challenges issued by other authors.
The World of Harry Potter [Rules]
This section is for discussing all things Harry Potter. As you can see, there are sections and sub-sections for talking about specific aspects of the series, but please feel free to have a blast. (Descriptions of the sub-forums can be found beneath their titles.)
The Off-Topic Forum [Rules]
This is the place to go if you'd like to discuss something other than Harry Potter or writing, or if you just want to pass the time by playing a game with other HPFF members. It is not a place to share personal information or ignore the other rules.
Recommend A Book [Rules]
Read a book recently, and want to share your thoughts on it? Head to this section and see if there's a topic for the author of the book you read.
Site Safety [Rules]
We here at HPFF take online safety very seriously. If you have questions about online safety or privacy, you may ask them in this section.
Some areas of these forums also do not raise your post count no matter how many times you post within them:
- Common Rooms
- Off-Topic Forum
- Polling Place
- Story Challenges
The blogs offer HPFF members a more personal atmosphere. You may blog about a variety of topics, but you must always keep in mind that this is a site focused on HPFF and writing. Blogs that are too personal or dramatic will be removed at staff discretion. Members may only create one blog (but, of course, you can create many entries within that one blog). All regular rules apply to blogs.
Blog Terms & Rules
How to Create a Blog
Like blogs, status updates help give HPFF more of a personal, community atmosphere, but, again, like blogs, they aren't a place to share personal drama. All regular rules apply to status updates.
To change your status, click on your username in the top right corner of the forums. In the box that says "What's on your mind?", you can write your status update. Press "Update", scroll down the page, and you should see your status update at the top of the Recent Status Updates section!
Shoutbox & Chat
Although the shoutbox was once open to members, it was disabled due to persistent abuse of the rules. Occasionally, the shoutbox is opened to members for special events. The chat is open to prefects and staff members only. (If you see a red notification next to the Chat button, it's because people are using it, not because notifications are waiting for you.)
[Updated May 15, 2012]