Forum software user guide

Welcome! The Sense Community is a Discourse forum, and we hope it’s intuitive and clearly structured, but if you’re new to Discourse, start with this handy list of tips and tricks.

To go deeper, check out this guide, which is summarized below.

  1. Basic Terms Used by Discourse
  2. Browsing the Forum
  3. Navigation Tools
  4. Reading Topics
  5. Taking Part in Conversations
  6. Actions and Reactions
  7. Notifications

1. Basic Terms Used by Discourse (Nomenclature)

Here are some very basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind as you use Discourse or read this guide:

  • Topic: The collection of messages grouped together in a meaningful conversation, with a title, listed in a category, beginning with an Original Post, and including all replies in chronological order.Elsewhere this might be called a ‘thread’ but Discourse uses ‘topic’ since thread is used for linked elements that can go off in many different directions (and be confused with programming terms).
  • Post: Each element of a topic is referred to as a post . Each post has its own author and can be moved to a different topic if necessary, or even become the start of a new topic.
  • Original Post (or OP): The first post in any topic. This is key since it determines the focus of the topic and is what the title and tags will link to.
  • User: Discourse sites may be private or public for anyone to read, but you will always be required to register in order to create posts and record any actions such as bookmarking, liking, tagging, and flagging. Most site activity, therefore, is based around registered Users

Click here for the full Discourse Nomenclature (in progress)

2. Browsing the Forum

Topic lists

By default, the Discourse homepage will show all Latest conversations in the community but you can filter this list in a number of ways:

  • By category: in the menu line, click the ‘all categories’ title and a list of all the categories appears.
  • By tag: in the menu line, click the ‘all tags’ title and a list of all the tags are used will appear.
  • By level of activity: if you click on ‘Top’ the conversation topics will be listed in order of most activity (views and replies) for a specific time period. You can choose whether this is for all time, or select a specific period such as quarter, month, week or just today.
  • By what’s ‘New’ to you: by default , new topics are those created in the last 2 days that you have not opened yet to keep the list fresh and relevant. New topics show a small blue dot next to the topic title
  • By what topics are “Unread”: by default , unread topics are those that you have previously opened and read for at least 4 minutes, and that have new posts (replies) submitted to them. Unread topics show a number in a blue circle indicating how many new posts are in the topic.

See who is participating

There are several ways to see who is involved in topics.

On the homepage you will see a selection of avatars (profile pictures) of:

  • the user who started the topic (always the first photo);
  • a selection of the most active participants;
  • and, who created the most recent post (usually the last photo).
  • in some cases, the first photo has a blue border or blue halo to indicate that the original poster is also the most recent poster

The box at the bottom of the OP tells you; who created the post and when, gives a count of the replies and views in this topic to date, and a display of the avatars of the most frequent participants.

3. Navigation Tools

  • For Search, the Menu, or your User page, use the icon buttons at the upper right.

4. Reading Topics

A healthy community needs members to be posting new content, but this activity is not everything. Readers are the true indicators of how healthy the community is. What’s the point of posts that no-one reads? Discourse encourages and tracks reading habits so community managers can keep a healthy balance.

Keep scrolling

Click a topic title and read down the list of replies in chronological order, following links or previewing replies and quotes as you go. Use your mouse to scroll the screen, or use the timeline scroll bar on the right which also shows you how far through the conversation you’ve read. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.

Jump back in

  • Selecting a topic title will take you to your last read post in the topic. To enter at the top ↑ or bottom ↓ instead, click the reply count or last reply date.

  • Topics above the light red line on a list are new or updated since your last visit. If you have read all the way to the end of a topic, the title will be light grey instead of black.

Related topics

Sometimes conversations are clearer if topics are split, where posts are moved to a more appropriate topic, or two related topics are merged. If a post is moved, a link will appear that will allow readers to jump to that comment wherever it has been moved to, and the person who posted it will also be notified.

At the end of the OP you will also see lists of related topics that link to the one you are reading

5. Taking Part in Conversations


Press any Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply.

Discourse shows all posts in the order they are published. It does not make you chase down multiple threaded paths. However, it still gives you lots of ways to follow the context of conversations.

To reply to a specific post in a topic, clicking the grey Reply button at the end of each post and your reply is linked to that post.

  • If your reply is the next one published after the post you are replying to, this will appear next in chronological order
  • If yours is NOT next, then two things happen after your post is published:
    • Your post will include a new link in its header with an image to show what this is ‘in reply to’ - clicking this link displays that previous post for context next to your reply
    • The original post includes a count of replies at the bottom - clicking this link displays the content of the replies


Drafts will automatically be saved as you write. If you minimise the editor or navigate to a different topic, the editor might disappear. To open a draft, return to the topic you were replying to or click the highlighted bar at the bottom of your browser, and the editor will reappear with your draft.


To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. There is no need to quote the a whole message, it helps to be specific. Repeat this for multiple quotes even from different posts and different users. The quoted text will point to their original source.


To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type @ to begin selecting a username. This search will also search the name fields in case you don’t know a particular username.


To use standard Emoji , just type : to match by name, or traditional smileys ;)

Alternatively, click on more to see a complete list of emoji to select from.

Oneboxes (Link Previews)

Read details about this feature in: Rich link previews with Onebox

To generate a summary for a link, paste it on a line by itself. To start a topic with a link, paste the link into the title field.


Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown :

This is <b>bold</b>.
This is [b]bold[/b].
This is **bold**.

For more formatting tips, try our 10 minute tutorial .

6. Actions and Reactions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:

  • To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!
  • Grab a copy-pasteable (permalink) link to any reply or topic via the link button.
  • Use the button to reveal more actions. Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page.

7. Notifications

When someone is talking directly to you — by replying to you, quoting your post, mentioning your @username, or even linking to your post, a blue number will immediately appear over your profile picture at the top right.

When you have been sent a Personal Message you will receive this in your Inbox and a green number will appear over your profile picture to the left.

Click your profile image to scroll through all your notifications.

You can optionally receive all these notifications as push notifications to your desktop browser or Android device. Simply allow the site to send you notifications through your browser when it asks permission.

Don’t worry about missing a reply – you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.

If you want, you can get notified about other things happening on the site as well, either at the category or topic level.

Topic notifications

You can change your notification level for any individual topic via the notification control at the bottom, and right hand side, of each topic.

Category notifications

Notification level can also be set per category. To change any of these defaults, see your user preferences, or visit the category page, and use the notification control above the topic list, on the right side.


I’ve been a geeky software developer going on 40 years now. I’ve seen a lot and know you always hate new software but I must say this forum\community has me baffled very odd and not at all intuitive so far, I hope that changes.

What’s confusing you ? The web application operation itself, or the structure ? I notice that some of the pictures are missing from the guide above, but the links to Discourse give a pretty deep dive into how to use the underlying Discourse web app.

All of the above. My main point is that a person with my background and experience should not have to be ‘baffled’ and forced to read the directions on how to use a forum. Forums have been around for many, many years and I’ve participated in many and I will say this is the first time I’ve been baffled. I will read and figure out how to use this but I just feel, so far, that an added layer of complexity has been added to such a well known been around for ever, simple process and I have to waste time to figure it out.

I’m definitely curious what specifically you find confusing. I find Discourse to be far more usable and intuitive than something like phpBB or vBulletin, which I’ve also used extensively.

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For example I can’t even figure out how to make a new post for a question I have. Maybe it’s my browser. I don’t know.

Hi @mcmee - there’s a brief 48 hours hiatus from new users posting to allow time to browse/get acquainted with the forums before posting. I’ve updated your account permissions and you should now see the ability to post.

Gotcha, that makes sense! Thanks for the quick reply!


Good tutorial.

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OMG thought I was going crazy and also couldn’t figure out how to use the forum or maybe wasn’t able to post on mobile. Found this post now this morning so guess I just have to wait another day. That alone may be useful to mention in the “Getting started” section, or if it is, I also missed it.


Great suggestion !

How can i post a question?

You just did. But if you want to start a new topic with a question, go to here:

Then hit the “New Topic” button. You’ll need to give the topic a title, and categorize your topic/thread, then ask away. Guessing you’ll want to categorize as “Technical Questions”, but maybe not.

I second the idea of clearly explaining the 48 hours delay for new Sense owners to start posting. I have been browsing this forum like crazy trying to figure out if something was broken when I found this thread.

The other suggestion is to post a button (also very overt) that allows users to see our sensor’s metrics in the web browser. When I first installed Sense yesterday and logged in for the fist time the website automatically took me to that page. However, today I cannot find it. Another issue is that I could not find where/how to input my devices’ brand and models in the web browser, only in the app. However, it’s a pain to input a lot of data using the app. I’d rather use the web browser and my PC’s keyboard. Would you please explain how to do it?

I also have a few technical questions about the installation and the reading but will read the forum a bit more before posting them. Maybe someone else also had them.


Welcome @msrossi1 !
I’m not sure the 48 hour wait is still built into the commenting process - maybe our newish Sense community manager, @JuliaAtSense, can answer that. There is a trust-based system, built into the forum’s underlying software, Discourse, that is set up to let humans moderate your first couple posts to keep out possible SPAMers, etc, but your first message has been posted and you have been moved up in trust, so you should be able to do unmoderated postings, create new topics and add photos, etc. now.

As for how to do things on a PC, simply use the web app. Log in under:

The web app has pretty much all the features that the Sense app for phone/tablet except:

  • The main Power Meter (real-time) works a little differently and does not include some of the transition “tagging” (the power numbers attached to some transitions).
  • The web app does not show device Power Meters that can be found only in the phone/tablet app.
  • The web app does not include any of the features of the phone / tablet app that are used for initial setup or network testing because those rely on Bluetooth. Those are the functions in the app that tell you to get physically close to the monitor unit.

The web app also includes one feature not in the phone/tablet app - the ability to Export CSV files at the Day or Hourly level for a selected interval.

I can’t tell specifically what your mean by the display that shows “our sensor’s metrics” but I’m guessing you are talking about the Signals section of the Sense Monitor. You can find this on the web app under Settings (popup menu when you click on your login in the upper right) > Sense Monitor (menu on left).

The place to add your Device Inventory is at the bottom of the My Home page. Go to Settings (popup menu when you click on your login in the upper right) > My Home (menu on left)

Thanks kevin1!
Your answer was very helpful and I was able to navigate to the input page.
It would be very helpful if Sense put a link to the web-app’s webpage in its main website. I’ll save a bookmark on my browser nonetheless.

Great… FYI, the link to the Web App is buried waaaay down at the bottom of the page. In my opinion, the head product folks nowadays at Sense are a little bit overheavy on marketing, and a little light on customer success, but they do have a lot on their plate with new moves into Sense-enabled meters and panels.


Can this statement about the 48hours be included in the guide? I signed up specifically so I could make a new post and I thought I was going crazy or it was some silly policy like this.

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