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Old 10-26-2018, 03:42 PM
Bone's Avatar
Bone is offline
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 10,580

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: I'm a new user and I have not received my confirmation email. What do I do?
    A: : If you do not receive your confirmation email within an hour or so after your initial registration, check your spam filter; often the confirmation email gets stuck there. If you do not find the confirmation email in the spam trap, contact a moderator via e-mail. A list of moderators may be found here: If the e-mail button on that page does not work for you, most moderators have their e-mail address visible on their profile, under the Contact Info tab.

  2. Q: What's the difference between Guest, Member, and Moderator? And what's SDSAB?
    • Guests are people who don't pay. Guests can read and write to the board and have a few similar privileges. Guests see the banner ads on the pages.
    • Members are people that pay an annual subscription fee and post at the SDMB. Members do NOT see the banner ads, as one convenience of membership. Charter Members are people who were posting before we went on a fee basis, who paid their fees in the first months of change and have remained with us on a fee-paying basis ever since. (NOTE: Failure to pay on time can result in loss of the "Charter" title. This is a system effect that we have no control over.)
    • Moderators are people that are in charge of reviewing the posts in a certain forum to make sure they meet forum guidelines. Our goal is to build community, and to have reasonably polite discourse and debate. Moderators are the ones who help enforce the rules.
    • SDSAB stands for the "Straight Dope Science Advisory Board," people who write Staff Reports (see the Archives.) The SDSAB play no role in the running of the Straight Dope Message Boards; their opinions are their own.

    There are a few other titles, like Cecil Adams' title "Perfect Master," but these are rare. Custom Titles are also available. For a small fee, you can change your title to almost anything (but not Moderator, Administrator, SDSAB, or any of the other standard titles). See the details here.

  3. Q: I want to change my user name.
    A: Email SDMB Administrator, TubaDiva at: and request a change. You must use the email address under which you are registered. We do not "recycle" screen names; once registered to the board, that name cannot be used again. First come, first served. Remember that names are subject to approval by management. NOTE: Do not simply re-register on your own. Multiple screen names may cause you to lose privileges under ANY name, as spelled out in the registration agreement.

    It's quickest if you provide two or three new names you would like, ranked in the order that you like them. We have many names already on the board and since we don't recycle, you may have chosen a name currently in the database. Remember that names have meaning and power here. Use wisely your privilege to choose. Management reserves the right of final approval on all names.

  4. Q: How do I change my password?
    A: Click on User CP in the upper left corner of any SDMB page, then on Edit Email & Password from the choices on the left. Type in your current password. Type your new password TWICE: once to change, once again to confirm. Hit the "Submit Modifications" button.

  5. Q: I forgot/lost my password! What do I do?
    A:Click on this link. Follow the prompts. You will need to receive, open, and trigger the url inside a confirmation email after you do this. If you do not receive your confirmation email within an hour or so, check your spam filter; often the confirmation email gets stuck there. If you do not find the confirmation email in the spam trap, contact

  6. Q: How do I change my email address?
    A: Click on User CP in the upper left corner of any SDMB page, then on Edit email & password in the choices on the left. You will see your current email address; type in your new email address TWICE: once to change, once again to confirm. Make any other profile changes you like and hit the Save Changes button. Then check the new e-mail address for the confirmation message that will be automatically sent to you. If you do not receive your confirmation email within an hour or so, check your spam filter; often the confirmation email gets stuck there. If you do not find the confirmation email in the spam trap, contact

    IMPORTANT: When you change your password or email address, the system will AUTOMATICALLY send you a confirmation email about the change and will move your registration to the security holding queue pending your handling of the confirmation email. You will be locked out of the system until you respond to that confirmation email. If that email address was invalid, guess what? You just locked yourself out of the SDMB. If you have accidentally done this, then please contact a moderator and ask to have your privileges restored.

    SO don't register with an invalid email address. Don't change your email to an invalid address. Otherwise, it just inconveniences everyone. And, please, if you have changed your email address, be sure to change it in the registration for the SDMB. That's the only way we have of contacting you!

  7. Q: I see something posted on the message board that I think breaks the rules. What should I do?
    A: Report the post. You can easily do this using the REPORT BAD POST button -- the little exclamation point in the red triangle in the upper right corner of each post. When you click on that button, you will see a message that says
    This form is for reporting anything you believe would benefit from the immediate attention of SDMB staff, such as spam, advertising messages, and potential violations of forum and/or board rules.
    Since the message board is so active, and the moderators are unpaid volunteers, we appreciate any assistance that our members can give us. We can't be everywhere, we can't see everything, so we rely on you to report infractions of the rules. Your Report of a bad post will send an email to all the moderators of that forum.

    If you want to edit your own post (for example, if you made a coding error), you have five-minutes after posting during which you can do. so If you miss that time limit, you can now REPORT your own post and explain to the moderator exactly what you'd like changed. Note that moderators will not accept edits that are total revisions; once you've posted, you've posted. But we will be happy to help with typos, mis-coding, etc.

  8. Q: I get a lot of enjoyment out of the SDMB and would like to contribute financially to my host in some way.
    A: You can be a subscribing member of the Straight Dppe Message Board. Annual subscriptions are $14.95 per year and you can subscribe for multiple years at a time. You can also purchase gift subscriptions for your friends and loved ones.

    You can also purchase a Custom User Title and style yourself as something besides vanilla "Member." We once had a store for Straight Dope merchandise but it is not operational at the present time. That may change, so stay tuned, we'll let you know when we have merchandise available for sale.

  9. Q: Why can't I edit my own post?
    A: You can edit your own post, within a time limit. There is a five-minute window after hitting the SEND button during which you can edit your own post. The EDIT button should be visible during this period; when the five minutes are up, the EDIT button vanishes.

    We have imposed this time limit to avoid abuse, of people changing what they wrote after meeting opposition or hostility. In short, we don't want people re-writing history. The five-minute window allows you to edit typos and make other minor changes. If you make a serious typo, email the Board moderators (or REPORT the post) and they’ll be happy to fix it. A “serious” typo includes errors in coding (spoiler tags, quotes, etc) and typos that lead to misunderstanding (“now” when you meant “not,” for instance.)

  10. Q: How do I change my board settings?
    A: Click on User CP in the upper left corner of any SDMB page, then click on Edit Options from the menu list on the left. Here you can make various decisions about your personal board settings: for example, whether you want your email address to be visible, whether you want to use a signature line, your privacy settings, time zones, etc. Make your changes and then hit the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page.

    Note: if you choose not to use use cookies on the board, you'll have to log in EVERY time you go to a new page. We suggest you accept cookies Make your changes and hit the "Submit Modifications" button.

  11. Q: Why can't I highlight things?
    A: This appears to be a browser based bug, affecting Chrome and Firefox. See this thread for further discussion.

  12. Q: How can I add an avatar?
    A: In the User CP on the left hand side, click "edit avatar". Images must be 50px square or smaller, and be less than 20kb. Do not use animated avatars. Do not use offensive images. You may view them or not, as you wish as well. This is controlled in in your User Control Panel (User CP hyperlink in the blue band across the top of every SDMB page), select "Edit Options", look under "Thread Display Options," and click the box by "Show avatars."

  13. Q: How do I post a "spoiler"?
    A: Use the custom vBcode tag spoiler, added by the SDMB staff. Typing:

    [spoiler]- and it really *was* a kitten, after all.[/spoiler]
    would appear as
    - and it really *was* a kitten, after all.
    (Click on the little box that says "Show" to read the text in the spoiler box.

  14. Q: May I use a signature at the end of my posts?
    A: Yes. Please keep signatures to four lines or less. Signatures observe the same rules as the general forums of the SDMB.

  15. Q: Why does the time I see displayed for a post not match my current time?
    A: First, the administrator has to set the server location's offset from GMT (which we have done.) Second, you (the poster) must go to User CP > Edit Options and set your location's offset from GMT. Then you should see the time displayed correctly.

    Also keep in mind guests (and/or posters not currently logged in) will always see GMT no matter what.

  16. Q: What does vBulletin (the software used to run our message board) do for daylight savings time?
    A: Here's how vBulletin handles Daylight Savings Time ("Summer Time").
    The SDMB server automatically updates its time according to the Daylight Savings Time in effect at the server's physical location (Chicago, Illinois, USA). Rules for that location are that clocks move ahead by an hour starting on the second Sunday of March, and are set back an hour on the first Sunday of November.

    If the Daylight Savings Time change of your current physical location does not match the Daylight Savings Time change of the server's physical location, members will need to select the right offset accordingly, typically by adjusting the time in your User CP by one hour, either forward or backwards depending on where you are. Unfortunately during this period you can not rely on the "physical location" drop-down in the User CP > Edit Options control panel. Choose the offset that is correct for you, ignoring the description of the physical location that corresponds to that offset.

  17. Q: What happens when you put someone on your "Ignore" list?
    A:When a person is on your ignore list, instead of their post, you see the message "This person is on your Ignore list. To read their post, click here.", and there is a link on which you can click to read their post anyway.

    If an ignored person starts a thread, you do indeed see the thread, just not the OP - unless you click on the link inside their ignored post. The thread title is unaffected.

  18. Q: I see people using acronyms like AFAIK, IIRC, TMI. What do those mean?
    A: AFAIK = As far as I know
    IIRC = If I recall correctly
    TMI = Too much information

    For SDMB-specific abbreviations and "in-joke" terms, see Beginner's Guide to Glossary of Terms on Straight Dope Message Boards

  19. Q: How do I create a poll?
    A: To create a poll, follow these steps:
    1. Follow the usual "Post New Thread" process. The opening post (OP) that you type will appear *below* the poll.
    2. After you've entered the title and typed the opening post, scroll down to the "additional options" box and look for "post a poll." Check the box: "Yes, post a poll with this thread," and fill in the number of options you want to make available.
    3. Click "Submit New Thread" and you'll be taken to a new screen, where you can create the poll itself.
    4. Under "Poll question," fill in the text you want people to see above the poll (remember, your OP will show up below it).
    5. Under "Poll options," fill in one answer per box. If you goofed on the number of answers, go to the "number of poll options" box, change the number, and click "Update Options
    The "Poll timeout" allows you to create polls that only stay open for a specified number of days. Leave it blank to leave the poll open indefinitely.

    There are two new options under "Miscellaneous options":
    • "Allow multiple choice" presents viewers with checkboxes instead of radio buttons, so they can choose more than one option. This is for the "check all that apply" polls, as opposed to the "pick the one best answer" polls.
    • *"Make votes public" means that everybody will be able to see how everybody else voted. This is handy when you want to make a poll like "Who wants me to send them $100"? You don't just find out how many people said "yes," you get to see their names so you can send them the $100 (just assume I voted yes on that poll, okay?).

    Voting in a poll - It's really quite straightforward. View the thread, and you'll see the poll at the top. Click on your choice (or choices, if "allow multiple choice" is turned on), and then click on "vote now."If this is a public poll, the words "Be advised that this is a public poll: other users can see the choice(s) you selected." will appear above the poll options. You may only vote one time. The SDMB will remember how you voted, and won't give you a chance to do it again. If you go back to read the thread, the choice that you voted for will show up in italic font.
    Reading the results - When you vote, you'll automatically be taken to a results screen, which has the responses displayed above the OP. You can also click the "View Results" button to see the responses without voting yourself. If you're looking at a public poll, the number of votes received by each answer will be a link. Click on the link, and you'll get a list of which members voted for which answer.
    Editing polls - Once your poll is finalized, you can no longer make changes. Mods are able to edit polls but, as with editing posts, we prefer not to interfere. Adding or changing options after a poll has begun makes the overall results less meaningful. If there is a significant problem, email us or report the post. The mods can either close the thread so you can start over, or--if you catch the error immediately--make minor changes before the voting starts.

  20. Q: May I ask for help on my homework?
    A: Yes. You may ask, but no one is obligated to do your homework for you and typically posters prefer to guide you to the proper resources so that you have the ability to do your own homework. Sometimes other posters may oblige your request.

  21. Q: What happened to a particular thread or poster? They seem to be missing?
    A: If you are curious about a particular thread or poster, please PM a moderator. In probably 95% of such cases, the thread or poster that vanished was an attention-seeker -- a spammer , sock, or troll. They're out for any attention, even negative attention, and we don't want to give it to them. They disappear, as do their posts. And as do posts about them. Please do not post a public inquiry.

  22. Q: I think I got hit by malware on the SDMB, what should I do?
    A: Please post a report to About This Message Board so we can investigate. For best results, malware reports should include the following:
    • Tell us specifically what happened, not just "I got hit by malware." For example: (a) my antivirus software notified me it had blocked an attack and gave me the following report (and then post the report); (b) I got a popup saying [whatever]; (c) my system locked up and the screen turned blue, etc. It's especially helpful for us to know the name of the suspected item of malware.
    • Time/date of occurrence, your geographic location, and browser/operating system you are using.
    • Whether you were looking at an SDMB page or a column archive page. These are hosted on different servers and see different ads.
    • If possible, provide a screen shot of the page you were on when the incident occurred. With WinXP this can be done with Alt-PrintScreen and with Win7 you can use the Snipping Tool. If you can't do this, please describe any ads or popups that were visible.

  23. Q: I think my IP has been banned at the SDMB, what should I do?
    A: Please contact TubaDiva @ aol. com .In your email please list the IP address you are currently using, that will go a long way towards solving the problem. If you do not know your IP number go to this site, it will tell you:

  24. Q: Why can't I highlight text in Chrome or Firefox?
    A: This is a bug in Chrome, which has been copied into Firefox. It is believed that this bug was introduced in the version of Chrome released on 5/26/2018. The bug only affects the SDMB Mobile theme (Sultantheme's Responsive vB3-blue) as it is triggered by a setting in that theme. The theme has a section for setting the highlight color, but does not actually set the highlight color to anything. The browsers should therefore just ignore this, but instead, Firefox and Chrome incorrectly do not highlight text. The text is being selected, just not visibly so.
    There are several solutions to this.
    1. Switching to the regular theme (Straightdope v3.7.3). The drop-down menu to select the theme is on the lower left side of the page.
    2. Use a different browser.
    3. Revert to an older version of Chrome or Firefox.

    At the time of this posting, there is no fix for the bug for either Chrome or Firefox.

  25. Q: How do I search the SDMB using Google?
    A: Check out this thread for detailed information.

Last edited by Bone; 10-26-2018 at 05:13 PM. Reason: Updated info regarding highlighting issue