How to Make Private Forums
Just making it so only registered users can read and post in forum areas is not making a forum private or hidden.
If your forum has adult content on it, the adult content must be in a private area of your forum.
If you want a Staff only folder, that only your moderators and admins can read and post messages in, you need to make a private forum folder for that.
Forums can be made completely private and also hidden, so that only certain registered users granted special permission can see any of the forum sections, including the category titles of the sections. Non-registered guests and registered users not granted special access will only see on the Index page the forum header (name of forum and any banner or logo; the menu area for registering, login etc.); and the Index page footer (the "Who is online" section and the copyright information.) The board will look like it has nothing on it to everyone except members who got special permission.
Or, forums can have only some areas completely private so that only certain registered users granted special permission can see those areas, but other users can see and access other parts of the forum.
How to make a private or completely private as well as hidden forum area
A) Setting Permissions to Private
1) First, create the category and at least one forum (folder) for that category.
2) In the Administration Panel, go to Forum Admin>Permissions.
3) On the Forum Permissions page, find the name of the forum section you want to be made private and select it.
4) You will see a small screen that says "Simple Mode". There is a link at the bottom of that screen for "Advanced Mode". You can make your desired privacy choice in "Simple Mode", or for more specific control, click on "Advanced Mode."
4a) Simple Mode
In "Simple Mode", there are seven choices. To make a private area, there are two choices: Private, and Private [Hidden].
Plain "Private" will make it so guests and noninvited registered users will be able to see on the Index page the name of that private category and the names of forums (folders) in that category, but they will not be able to do anything in that area. They will not be able to read any post, nor make posts.
Private [Hidden] will make it so guests and noninvited registered users won't even see the title names of the section. They won't even know it exists unless you let it's existence be known, perhaps in message in a different forum category that guests and users can view.
4b) Advanced Mode
In Advanced Mode, you can set permissions specifically for each of the functions: view (which means see the name of the folder on the index page); read, post, reply, edit and so on.
You might chose to set the View to Registered, so registered users can see the name of the forum area on the Index page, but then have it set to Private for everything else.
B) Next Step- Create a Special User Group
You must create a special user group and add members to it so they can see the private areas.
1) In the Admin Panel, under Group Admin, go to Group Management and click Create New Group. Fill out the information on the screen as you desire.
a) If you leave it as an "Open group" any member can add themselves.
b) If you select "Closed Group", the forum admin must add members to the group. Only selected registered users can then be in that group. The name of the Group and it's included members will show in the "Usergroups" menu on the Index page, and anyone can see that list.
c) If you select "Hidden Group", the forum admin must add members to the group. Only selected registered users can then be in that group. The name of the group and it's member list will NOT be able to be seen by anyone except the members of that group.
C) Adding Members to A Group
1)To add a member to a group, go to the Index page. At the top, in the menu area, click on Usergroups.
2) Select the User Group from the drop down menu. Then click on the "View Information" button.
3) Type in a member name next to the "Add Member" button. Then click on the "Add Member" button. The member has now been added to that group.
Note: If you are the Admin and are in the Admin Panel, looking on the Admin Index page at who is online, you may see users listed under "Forum Location" as being in one of the private areas where you had set it so everyone can see the title of that area, but also set it so only invited people could read and post.
If you see a noninvited member or a guest listed as being in that private forum, that only means they clicked on the title name. They are NOT able to read anything in that private forum unless they were given permission to do so. What the uninvited member or unregistered user will see is a message saying something such as "Sorry, but only moderators can read topics in this forum."
Written by Margaret/gg'ssimon
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