It is recommended to Install Sample Content during the first installation just to familiarize yourself with the functionality, tools and options. It can be deleted later prior to a fresh start of the forum.
If you don't want to moderate every single post and reply and approve them before publishing, go to Forum > Settings and enable option All submitted forum posts approved by default. This way all new posts and replies will be automatically approved and shown. You can then selectively moderate and disable those required.
You can choose the front end editor option: either plain text or rich text. Please realize that giving users the ability to save forum posts and replies in rich text will consume much higher database server space and reduce the site processing speed. Use rich text if you understand the consequences.
Switching the editor from plain text to rich text poses no risks. However as rich text has HTML tags, switching back to plain text will leave all those HTML tags in the texts. You can switch back to rich text again any time unless you convert rich text to plain, then all tags, images, formatting etc. will be lost. Converting rich text to plain can potentially and occasionally leave some artifacts, i.e. there is no guarantee this operation will be 100 % successful. This operation cannot be undone. Back up your database prior to the conversion just in case you change your mind later and want to restore the previous state.
There are two options for the front end rich text editor: simple and full. The simple editor will have the bare minium functionality, the full editor will have all rich text editor functionality enabled in the Dashboard > System & Settings > Basics > Rich Text Editor. Note: the back end (Dashboard) forum editor will always have the full functionality with any of the two selected.
Note, the package doesn't provide functionality to automatically register users or to automatically add registered users to the Forum User group. Users which are not approved and not in the Forum User group can't apply to become a forum user or make forum posts or replies nor do they have access to the forum Account > My Forum page. To allow logged-in users to apply for forum user, they have to be added to the Forum User group first, this can be done in Dashboard > Members > select users > Items Selected > Add to Group > Add the users below to Group(s) > Forum User > Add.
HOW TO ADD A USER IN DASHBOARD
Assuming a user is registered on the web site, it can be made a forum user in the Forum > Users > Add Forum User. Select the Site User you want to make a Forum user. You can view all registered users and their usernames in Dashboard > Members. Don't forget to select the Active option - this makes the forum user approved to use the Forum. The user can also be made active or not active in the users list with the Activate/Deactivate button.
Thus, once made active, the user can use the Forum functionality. Making the user active automatically adds them to the Forum User group. Making a user not active, removes them from the group.
If you want to make a trusted user to be a forum moderator, this option can be set either in editing the user or with the Make/Remove Moderator button. The moderator can Approve/Withdraw forum posts, make posts sticky for 1 week or locked - no replies can be made. The moderator cannot delete forum posts or edit them. Only the site administrator (admin) can do that in the Dashboard > Forum.
There is an option in Settings to add all users from Forum User group to the Forum users. First, add all required users to the Forum User group in Dashboard > Members > select users > Items Selected > Add to Group > Add the users below to Group(s) > select Forum User > Add. Second, add all the selected users to the Forum users by clicking on Add All Users from Group in Forum > Users.
HOW TO ADD A FORUM POST IN DASHBOARD
Go to Dashboard > Forum > Add Forum Post. If option All submitted forum posts approved by default was set in Settings, all posts (new or edited) will have the Approved option set too - this makes the post to be approved and shown on the web site on the Forum page.
Setting the Sticky option will stick the post at the top of the forum post list and highlight it when viewing it. You can optionally set the Sticky Until date until which the post will appear sticky, otherwise it will remain sticky until this option is removed. You can optionally write a short Sticky Note to say why the post is sticky.
Setting the Locked option will disable replies to the post and highlight it when viewing it. You can optionally write a short Locked Note to say why the post is locked.
You can Add Message (or reply) to the post with the '+' button. Press the Show message link to open a text field to enter your message.
When the post has replies you can view and edit each after pressing the Show message link. All changes will be saved after saving the post itself. You can also Approve/Refuse messages. When refused, the message will not be shown on the forum page. Approving it will show it. Alternatively, you can delete th emessage altogether. Approve/Refuse and Delete are done instantly, no pst saving is required.
You can also make forum posts Sticky, Locked or Approve/Withdraw them in the forum post list.
HOW TO ADD A FORUM POST ON SITE
Assuming the main forum page is Forum, if the user is logged in and is a forum user, a new forum post can be made either on the Forum page or on a page belonging to a chosen Forum Topic by pressing the New Forum Post button. After the post is submitted, the page will refresh in 5 sec. If the post is automatically approved it should appear in the list under the Original Post. If it needs to be approved by a moderator or administrator, it will be shown after it's made approved.
To prevent robot post submissions, new posts can only be submitted after 60 sec from the previous post submission.
Note, only the site administrator can edit or delete forum posts and messages, a normal forum user can't do that after the submission.
A forum post reply can be made on the forum post page by pressing the Reply to Thread button. Again, after the reply submission, the page will refresh in 5 sec. If the message is automatically approved it should appear in the list under the Replies. If it needs to be approved by a moderator or administrator, it will be shown after it's made approved.
Replies too can only be submitted every 60 sec.
MY FORUM USER ACCOUNT
When logged in to the site and assuming the user belongs to the Forum User group, the user can apply to become a Forum User with the Apply for Forum Account button. Once approved, logged in forum users can view own forum posts on the Account > My Forum page.
A forum moderator can view either all forum posts or only own ones.
HOW TO MODERATE
Assuming the user is logged in and made both a forum user and a moderator in the Settings > Users, when on the forum post page, the moderator can make or remove the post sticky (without time limit), make or remove the post locked, or approve/withdraw the post. When the post is withdrawn, it disappears from the post list.
The same functionality is provided in the moderator's user account.
A moderator can't edit posts or messages, a moderator can only moderate the whole post. Individual replies can be moderated and edited by the site admin only in the Dashboard.
A newly installed Forum creates a page for forum posts called 'Forum' with a handle 'forum'. You can change the page handle or move it anywhere on your site. In this case all forum pages will have to be regenerated in Forum > Settings > Regenerate Forum Post Pages without loss of data to be sure all forum posts refer to the new page name or location.
If you want to use one of your existing pages for the Forum, you can add a Forum Post List block to the page. First, change the Page to Publish Forum Post Pages Under in Forum > Settings for the required page and save the settings. Second, go to the page and add the Forum Post List block. Third, regenerate all Regenerate Forum Post Pages in Settings. You can add the block as the first step, it's just going to be empty until you change Page to Publish Forum Post Pages Under and Regenerate Forum Post Pages.