The forums at the USConstitution.net site are used to allow visitors to communicate with the Webmaster and with each other. The software used by USConstitution.net is YaBB — it has all the features one expects from a Web-based forum including threaded topics, user profiles, and administrative features. Because of trouble with spam postings, all boards are restricted to registered users, with the exception of the Q&A board, the Dear Webmaster board, the For Kids Only board and the Testing Board.
To protect message posters and the forums themselves, a registration system is available. After registering, you must login before you post messages. This protects you, as no one can then use your name to post messages and impersonate you. It protects the forums because guests are not allowed to post without going through the registration process, a process that requires a confirmation step and hence prevents auto-bots from posting to the site. This also protects readers, as they are not subjected to spam posts. Registration is totally voluntary. The forums are available to anyone for reading. Registration is required only for posting. To register, you can use this page. For tips on posting, see the Posting Tips Page. Users who do not post a message within seven days are subject to deletion from the user database. Users with obvious false names are subject to deletion at any time. All membership is at the discretion of the Webmaster.
To promote free discussion, the Webmaster is loathe to censor or delete any messages. There are a few policies that must be adhered to:
The USConstitution.net forums are divided into two parts. The first consists of messages from an earlier software package. Totaling over 20,000 messages, the Classic Boards are archived for historical and research purposes. Links to the archives can be found on the Board Archive Page, and by checking the corresponding button on the Search Page, these messages can be searched. The second part, made active in October 2003, is the active forums using the YaBB software. These forums may be accessed from the Main Forums Page.
Topics may be moved from board to board as appropriate. For example, if a thread in the Q&A board turns into a debate, one of the Moderators will move the discussion to the Debate board. Moderators are long-time, trusted users of the forums. Moderators can also close a topic if has become tangential or pointless. Topics with 99 replies close automatically. This is to prevent run-away topics from using up too many system resources. If a topic reaches the limit and there is more to say, additional messages can be added by creating a new topic.
HTML is not permitted in posts on the YaBB forums. When posting, you may use YaBBC, special codes that are translated into HTML on the fly. If you are familiar with HTML, most of the codes are easy to use — for example, to make a bit of text bold, enclose it in the [b] and [/b] tags. For more information, see the YaBBC Page.
The ability to post messages is a privilege granted by the USConstitution.net Webmaster. Messages are posted to the forums as soon as you submit them — no censorship of content is done.
Messages may be edited or deleted by the original poster, but only for 24 hours after the original post. After 24 hours, only a moderator can edit or delete a post. Messages will be edited by a moderator to delete excessive quoting or to fix HTML/YaBBC errors. Moderators may alter offensive content in messages.
If you have any questions about USConstitution.net, please send email to the Webmaster.
Often in the USConstitution.net forums, questions are asked that are obviously coming straight off a take-home assignment. This section is addressed directly at this type of student. The one that asks questions like "Can you tell me why you think the Constitution is still used over 200 years after its creation?" The regular visitors to the forums are usually more than happy to answer your questions, if there is an indication that you have done some research to develop an answer yourself. Everyone will have an opinion about such a question, because the question asks for an opinion, but unless we're sure you've started to form your own opinion, we are hesitant to give a detailed answer about our own opinions. Unfortunately, plagiarism is rampant today, and on the rise. The Internet is partially to blame, because pre-fabricated answers are so easy to find.
If you have a question which involves an opinion, help yourself by expressing your own opinion. We can help refine it, or help find arguments for and against it. What we will not do is tell you what your opinion is.
When requesting answers to factual questions, such as "What was the first state to ratify the Constitution?" the questioner will often not be given a direct answer to the question. For most factual questions such as this, the answer already exists on this site. If you have searched and cannot find it, then let us know that — there may be data missing from the site that the Webmaster can add. But if the answer is there, you will often be given a link to a page with the answer, though not the answer itself. The ability to do research and find needed data is an acquired skill, and we aim to help you develop that skill.
Finally, regular visitor Kemosabe has written a message to all students, with small bits of important advice. It is suggested that you read it.