If you wish to dive into the action immediately, please check out the Links To Useful Threads for guidance on how permies.com works. For the rest of you, I shall talk through how to navigate the site, how the site works, and hopefully make your experience at permies.com better.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, if you go to the very top of the page, this is what we shall call the Dashboard. I have highlighted the "Dashboard" in yellow in the "Permies Main Forum Page Picture". While logged in, the dashboard contains the following buttons, in order from left to right:
Forums which takes you to the "Main Permies Forum Page" (different from the Permies Homepage). This page shows the posts from across the entire permies forum in the following categories: "Best Ever," "Best This Year," and "Most Recent." On the right side of this page there is also a section for the "Top Forums." At the bottom of each of the "Best" sections is a "More" button which will take you to the Best Ever or Best This Year pages which are subcategories of the larger Best Topics Forum.
Search allows you to look through all posts past and present, except deleted posts, that contain your search terms. It is advised to search before posting because somebody may have had a similar question to yours and an answer may have been found. Also, it helps for information (aka posts) to all be gathered under one thread instead of dispersed all of the place. It is OK to restart the conversation on an old thread- no matter how old it is. If you do not want to use the search function provided, I recommend learning how to improve search results. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to type your query and then add "site:www.permies.com" after it to restrict your query to within the permies.com site.
Permaculture Wiki (aka Appropdia) is a wiki dedicated to everything permaculture. Currently, it is in need of a lot of loving. If you have ideas or want to help out, but the forum format does not suit you, please consider donating your knowledge, time, and expertise to Appropedia.
Pie which will take you to the Pie Console. PIE is one of Paul's famous acronyms that means Permaculture Inner-circle Elite. One slice of pie will get you into the Permaculture Inner-Circle Elite for one month. The cost per pie slice decreases if you buy more. People who have pie can access the PIE Forum which may be important to you if you want special attention to your questions from Paul. Pie also allows you to turn off banner ads (outlined in blue on the "Permies Main Forum Page" picture), turn off the wood design, highlight thread with pie, have three extra bumper stickers, and more. Also, there will be additional features of pie to come, like modifying the "best" function.
Recent Topics shows the most recent activity on permies.com in chronological order. Threads you have read will appear tan/pink, threads you have not read will appear with their folder highlighted in yellow.
Flagged Topics are topics that have been given flags by anyone on permies.com who has been awarded at least one or more apples. Flags are used to give attention to any particular thread, and the flags can be removed at any time. The flags on a thread may come from just one person or multiple people. The number of flags a person can place on a thread is equal to the number of apples that person has. A person does not have to respond to a thread to flag it. If you like a thread and feel it deserves more attention, flag it by going to the bottom of the thread and entering the number of flags you want to give the thread! Then, whenever you want to, return back the thread and go to the bottom of the page to remove the flags you gave to that thread.
Hot Topics organizes threads by the amount of replies it has received from most to least.
Best Topics sorts the posts on the Permies forum by their "Cow Score"- the number to the right of the Apple Symbol on a post. In the white bar above the actual posts are the words "Show the Best of: All Time, 365 Days, 30 days, and 7 Days." They will show the "Best Posts" for that given amount of time.
Zero Replies shows the threads that have not had any replies to them in chronological order. This may be useful if you are one of those people that like to answer questions. We're all about helping here, and this is a great button to go to try and help out. Other ways of helping out are discussed at team permies.
Leaderboard shows the people with the most apples and most thumbs up all time and in the last thirty days.
"My Bookmarks and Watches" will show you a list of all the posts you have bookmarked or are currently watching. Bookmarking means that you just want to be able to find this thread again. Watching means that you would like updates whenever something occurs in a thread.
"My Posts" shows all the posts you have made in reverse chronological order. You can sort your posts by the subforums they are posted in.
The "My Profile" button is very helpful to visit. It is difficult to help users when we do not know your location. Please edit your profile and enter the information relevant to your location so we can best help you out. Look below my name and see how much info I give. It would be nice if everyone had that much information, because then we don't have to look all that up to help you. The more information we know, the more we can do. In the section called Bumper Stickers, you can add cool little things to your profile like a forest garden, tiny house, chicken, or more to your profile. Also, for more personalization, while editing your profile, if you open the section called "General Information About Yourself" you can add stuff about yourself, add a neat little signature like I have done for myself, and attach up to a maximum of three links inside your signature. This can, hint, hint, be used as a free way to promote your stuff on permies. You can also edit your preferences and what forums you see on the homepage to make site more personalized to you. For me, I have not edited the site personalization part because I never know what cool stuff you all might be talking about. And if you have PIE, you can also edit site site features you see like banner ads through the "My Profile" page section labelled "PIE-Only Preferences."
"My Purple Mooseages" will take you to your Purple Mooseages which is how we communicate semi-privately on permies.com. These messages are not private and can be read by the moderators at any time, giggling about them over lunch. If you ever receive a suspicious Purple Mosseage, please be sure to report it to any of the staff members as soon as possible (e.g. Mother Tree, stewards, or volunteers).
Lastly, the Logout button will log you off of the permies.com website.
-The Eye Shaped Button which toggles whether you see the "Quick Access Buttons" (outlined in green on the "Permies Main Forum Page Picture") to some of the "Categories" or "Subforums" of the Permies Forum.
At the center of the "Permies Main Forum Page" are three categories (from left to right):
-Best Ever (outlined in gold on the "Permies Main Forum Page Picture") which shows the best posts of all time based on their Cow Score
-Best This Year (outlined in sky blue on the "Permies Main Forum Page Picture") which shows the best posts of this year based on their Cow Score
-Most Recent (outlined in purple on the "Permies Main Forum Page Picture") shows the most recent activity in the permies forum
-Top Forums (outlined in pink on the "Permies Main Forum Page Picture") shows the best rated and active Subforums or Categories of the Permies Forum. By clicking the "Rate Forums Button" (outlined in blood red on the "Permies Main Forum Page Picture"), you can give acorns to the threads that you like with a maximum of ten acorns per subforum/category.
At the top of all threads are the "Post Reply", "Bookmark It", and "Watch Topic" buttons. The post reply is for doing just that, and when you reply to a thread, you will automatically watch the thread,too. Book Mark It denotes the thread as "marked" and can be viewed by going to the "My Bookmarks and Watches" button in the dashboard. "Watch Topic" is for watching a topic, but not replying.
When replying to threads, you may consider wanting to embed videos, add images, or more to make a better post. There are buttons above and below the text box, for modifying your post and making it better.
At permies.com, you may have noticed "titles" beneath certain people's names. Titles are not awarded by number of posts or quality of posts. Titles are awarded by the sole discretion of Paul and the other stewards.
Mother Tree- this is the title for Burra Maluca, the community manager, awards apples, does amazing epic stuff
Stewards- these are people who do amazingly epic wizardry behind the scenes, like handling the dailyish email, handling reported posts, catching spam, etc, award multiple apples per day
Volunteers- can award multiple apples per day, handle a lot of the behinds the scene stuff, catching spam, too
Pollinators- this is pretty much says a lot of the people running permies.com like you, can award one apple a day
Author- awarded to people who have done book promotions or dvd promotions on permies.com
Permaculture Orchardist- awarded to Stefan Sobkowiak who does amazing work as a permaculture orchardist
The Navigator- awarded to Elvind who was a navigator when Paul and Jocelyn went on their Symphonies in Seeds and Soil Tour
Apples say that the post you made was very good and highly appreciated. You can also give thumbs up to indicate that a post or reply was good, too. If you cannot award apples but think a post is apple-worthy, you can hit the report button and say so. The moderators will get your report notice eventually.
Meaningless Drivel is the place where harder to categorize posts are made that kind of somewhat fall into the permaculture category. In Paul's post, he explains that the MD section is where some of the stuff not quite what he wants this forum to be about can leak into the fold.
We have over 135 forums on permies.com. If you need help finding the right section to make a post, many web browsers allow you to do "command F" which lets you search a page for key words. I think the equivalent of this for other keyboards and operating systems is either "Control F" or "Alt F".
About the "Report Button": it is not just for bad things. The report button is simply a way of talking with the moderators. If you feel a post belongs in multiple forums, you can report the thread or post and request which forums you would like for the post or thread to also appear under.
As you get more used to the site, you may notice some things are a little out of place for a permaculture site. Paul Wheaton also runs Java Ranch which receives about ten times more traffic than permies.com. When you look at a thread that you have made, to the right of the orange "Watch Topic Button" is the "Resolved" Button which we don't really use here at permies.
I usually start people off with a simplified version:
Here's how I use the permies site:
1) Search. Try different combinations of a few simple words to define your question - like "Orchard bee" "Asian pear", or "rocket" "greenhouse".
*Note: your search will automatically be restricted to the specific forum area that you were just reading, but you can change this.
I often broaden the search to "all available" forums to see more results.
2) Post your project ideas or questions - either on an active thread that answered part of your question already, or by starting a new thread.
One advantage of tagging onto old threads is often there are already several people with similar interests watching the topic. Just be sure your question really is relevant to that particular thread, and try not to 'hijack' a thread with distracting side topics. It's polite to make sure the original poster's question is answered; if so, then there's a little more leeway in posting follow-up questions of your own.
Remember that project photos, video, or plans and diagrams can make a thread much more interesting, and also make it easier for people to give you useful answers.
3) Follow up: Check your post for responses.
If after 48 hours, you don't see useful or even excellent responses to a question you posted, you can ask for help from the moderators or experts.
First, go back to your post and copy the post address so you can link to it. Then use that link to ask someone directly to answer your question.
You can post an answer-urgently-wanted request in the Tinkering With This Site forum with the topic "48 hour rule," and let the moderators find someone to answer your question.
Or you can directly approach someone who you consider "expert." A moderator in that topic is usually knowledgeable, or you can ask any participant who seemed to have useful tips for others asking similar questions. Remember that nobody here is obligated to answer. Many permaculture experts spend a lot of their lives working on remote sites without Internet connectivity or free time. But most participants here are very helpful, and welcome another person trying to make a difference. It doesn't hurt to send a polite PM, complimenting someone's past contributions, and asking whether they would mind taking a look at your question and offering their thoughts.
It's also OK to post your link to your thread on other threads, where you might not feel it was appropriate to post the question itself, but you'd appreciate the same folks sharing their relevant knowledge and attention.
If your question is urgent enough to demand people's attention with follow-up requests, be sure to check in and read the answers, and thank those who respond.
Dave Burton wrote:Recent Topics shows the most recent activity on permies.com in chronological order. Threads you have read will appear tan/pink, threads you have not read will appear with their folder highlighted in yellow.
I see all posts in the same color, and all folders yellow. Has this changed, or could it be my browser? It would be nice to have my read-threads bolded or a different color...
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
I think all folders appear yellow if you have not read them, so there are a lot of threads you have not read recently. Then, after like 24-48 hours, the folders for the threads you have not read change from yellow to tan/pink. Here is a picture that shows many yellow folders above and many tan/pink ones below. In the blue circle, the higher of the two folder is yellow, and the lower of the two folders is tan/pink. I have not read all of those threads below, so their folders changed colors due to me not showing interest in them for 24 to 48 hours-ish. Sometimes when there is a LOT of activity on permies, you may have to go to the second or third page of recent activity to see the tan/pink folders.
Great post, Dave! Thank you for all the work that was put into this. It needs a sticky so it stays at the top. The Title should be changed to "Universal Welcome and How permies.com Works" or something like that.
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work. Stephen Herrod Buhner
I have been absorbing Permies for about 6 months since I found it (can't remember how at this moment) and have never quite understood how to use all the "little icons". I am saving this article to refer back to!
Thanks for taking the time. Such a fun and informative site does seem a bit overwhelming when you see it for the first time - then you realize how it is just oozing with information and photos and experiences and ......
you realize you have been on there for an hour on one thread!!! Learning actually learning and walking out the door and applying!!! This is positive use of the internet for all ages! Thank You all so much! I should fix my profile now......Ozarks Red Head in Grassy Holler signing out!