Acton Community Forum Help page

First and foremost, do not be concerned about all the 'stuff' in this section. It is provided not only to help you figure out what has gone wrong, when things don't go as you expect; but also for those who would like to know how everything works, before they do anything. In the case of errors, you will likely have been positioned to a specific section of this page because you clicked on the 'Need help?' message. In all likelihood, reading only that section will get you past the problem. Please let me know if I can change anything which might make the whole thing more useful, or less confusing.

Oh, yes... one additional tip: This may seem obvious to some of us but, when you branch into this page to look up some information, you can return to where you came from by hitting the 'Back' button on your browser. 'Nuff said.

~ Explanation of Processing Steps ~

Though this doesn't go into great detail, it gives you an idea of what normally happens when you post an item to the Community Forum:

  1. You are presented with a green-coded data entry screen.
  2. You fill in the data on the screen, and submit it.
  3. The data is sent to a Perl script on the server, for editing and formatting.
  4. If there are errors detected, your data is presented back to you on a red-coded data entry screen, for correction. Once you correct the information, you can resubmit it to the server for further processing.
  5. If there are no errors detected, your data is presented to you, fully formatted and with functioning hyperlinks, on a yellow-coded review screen. If it still looks good to you, you can resubmit it to the server for final posting.
  6. As a final step, you are returned to the Community Forum page so you can see the result of your actions.
    Note: I have seen that Netscape Navigator 4.05 (and possibly others) does not automatically do a refresh of the Forum page, at this point. Some browsers do this properly, and some don't. You may need to
    reload the page to see your changes.
At each phase of processing, you are given the option to bail out and return to the Forum page.

~ Explanation of Entry Fields ~

If you are feeling a bit squeamish about putting your name in front of what amounts to the whole world, you can feel free to use just your first name, or maybe a nickname. But, entering something in this field is required (that's why it's shown in red).

If you enter your e-mail address here, your name will be displayed with a hyperlink to your e-mail address. Then, anyone can click on your name, which should (if their browser is properly configured) crank up their e-mail program and allow them to send you an e-mail, directly. If this thought doesn't appeal to you, feel free to leave it blank.

Most of you will leave this blank. However, if you are associated with a particular web page (either personal or commercial), you can enter its URL here, and a hyperlink will be created for it so others can branch directly to your page. As to format, be aware that the edit process will add "http://" to the front of what you enter, if you don't supply it yourself. So, you are free to use the entire URL, or just the part beginning with "www...". For those of you who are HTML-aware, it's worth mentioning here that the Forum does not permit embedding of HTML script. So, if you want to toot your horn about a particular web page, this is the place to do it.

This field is for you to enter the name of your city, municipality, town, village, or hamlet. If you choose not to do so, that's OK too.

Here, we're not talking about 'discontent', 'confusion', or some other non-geographic state in which you might find yourself. Please enter here your state, province, or region of residence.

In keeping with our geography theme, please enter the country in which you live. I would recommend that even those of you who live in the USA use this field, since what seems perfectly obvious to you may not be quite as obvious to someone else.

Here's where you can use your imagination! Though the intent of this page is to permit something along the lines of a 'community flow of consciousness' on individual topics of choice, obviously you are free to comment upon just about whatever you wish. I don't particularly care what you say, but please try to be diplomatic about how you say it. This is a required field.

~ Explanation of Action Buttons ~

The 'submit' button sends your information to be processed by a Perl script running on the web server. It will do editing and formatting appropriate to the phase of processing underway. For more information about this, see the section above that discusses processing.

The 'clear' button clears out any values that may be in the entry fields, and puts spaces there instead. This may be of some use if you think you have royally messed things up.

Clicking on the 'cancel' button will link you (forward) to the Forum page, in the event that you have changed your mind about submitting a new entry. The same thing can be accomplished by clicking the 'Back' button on your browser -- except that the 'Back' button brings you backward to the Forum page, to the last copy of it that was stored on your computer. My preference is always to go back rather than forward, which is why I don't have any 'home page' link buttons on my pages. Don't see the 'cancel' button? Try scrolling to the bottom of the page.

~ Explanation of Response Messages ~

Green color-coded message area

Please enter the information you would like to submit for posting. Need help?
You will see this message as part of the first screen presented to you, when you request to add an item to the Forum. It's more or less a gentle reminder of what you need to do in this screen, to begin the process - and be advised that the 'name' and 'comments' fields are required. Of course, once you fill out the data, you will need to click on one of the action buttons, to indicate that the form is ready to be processed.

Red color-coded message area

Sorry -- your form is outdated.
Please hit your browser's 'Refresh/Reload' button, and try again. Need help?
I have made a change to the submission form, since the copy you are now using was stored locally on your PC. You will need to get the most recent version of the form from the server, and try your submission again. You can get a new copy of the form by clicking your browser's 'Refresh' (MS Internet Explorer) or 'Reload' (Netscape Navigator) button.

Sorry -- cgi error (bad phase phasename). Need help?
I have managed to mess up the mapping, and the edit program is totally confused about what is going on. I would suggest e-mailing me, if you see this message. Of course, you shouldn't see this message, but stranger things have happened in the history of the universe.

Sorry -- you forgot to fill out required field: fieldname.
Please adjust your text. Need help?
There are only two submission fields that are required: Your name, and your comments. It appears as though you have omitted at least one of these pieces of information. You will need to correct this, before your entry will be accepted.

Sorry -- HTML script is not accepted.
Please adjust your text. Need help?
Because I feel that the potential results are too unpredictable, the Forum does not permit HTML script to be embedded in incoming text fields. For the uninitiated, HTML is the 'glue' that makes webpages look the way they do. Want to see HTML script? Select 'View'/'Source' from the pulldown menu of your browser, and you will see the HTML that makes this page tick. You will also see that HTML keywords all use pairings of "<>" characters - detecting these brackets is how this script prevents HTML input. If you would like to set up a hyperlink, use either the e-mail or webpage field.

Sorry -- you will need to tone down your language.
Please adjust your text. Need help?
You have used language which tends to be inappropriate in polite company, no matter how it is phrased. It would be advisable to try other terminology. There is a very limited list of these words, so you have quite a bit of freedom in expressing yourself. And please resist the temptation to experiment in order to find which words they are (they're not the same as in George Carlin's infamous list) -- you may find that something gets posted when you were just 'playing around'. In that event, this edit would have had the reverse effect from what was intended.

Yellow color-coded message area

No errors detected -- last chance. Need help?
The edit program found no errors with your submission, and you have successfully entered the review phase of the add request. This screen presents your data to you exactly as you will see it on the Forum page, but you still have an opportunity to cancel the posting. If you are submitting hyperlinked e-mail or webpage information, this page is particularly useful to test out those links (try sending yourself an e-mail, and try linking to your web page) to make sure you didn't fat-finger anything, before you have committed to posting it. If you like what you see, click the submit button again to send the data back to the server, for actual posting to the Forum. If on the other hand your data is not correct, you can click the cancel button to bring you back to the Forum page. From there, you can start the process over, if you wish.

File Handling errors

If you see any of these, you know the drill -- E-mail me.

Can't open forum.htm: <diagnostics>
The edit program was unable to successfully open the forum file in read-only mode.

Can't close forum.htm: <diagnostics>
Though the edit program successfully opened the forum file in read-only mode, it was not able to properly close it, after processing.

Can't updopen forum.htm: <diagnostics>
Though the edit program successfully opened and closed the forum file in read-only mode, it was unable to successfully open it in update mode, to apply your changes.

Can't updclose forum.htm: <diagnostics>
Though the edit program successfully opened the forum file in update mode, it was not able to properly close it, after processing.

Server errors

Internal Server Error - The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
The specifics of this message will vary, but it will be displayed on a mostly-white screen. This type of message comes directly from the server, as opposed to being generated out of the Forum page edit program. It means that the Forum editing program has done something that the server didn't like; which in turn, probably means that I bunged something up. This would be another of those cases where I would suggest you e-mail me.

Page last updated on April 9, 1999
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