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Postby Auridesion » Jun/20/2012, 3:37 am

Chances are, if you're reading this article, you've probably been redirected here as an answer to one of the following questions:

  • Why is my username this color? [How] can I change it?

  • Why does my rank (the blurb underneath my username) say _________? [How] can I change that?

  • Why are some people allowed to [do something or use a feature] and I can't?

  • WTF is a usergroup?

The answers to the first three questions each includes the phrase "it depends on your default usergroup" -- but that answer doesn't do you much good if you don't know the answer to the last question. So, let's start by defining what a usergroup is, shall we?

The term is actually pretty self explanatory as far as a basic definition: A usergroup is a group of users on the discussion board. But that doesn't help you much, does it? Let me clarify:

Usergroups are an administrative tool that enables board administrators (like myself) to more easily assign access to various areas and features on the discussion board. Different types of access are called "permissions". Permissions determine everything from whether you're able to use an avatar or post in a certain forum or send/receive private messages, to whether you can access the admin or moderator controls and alter settings on the board or edit other people's posts, manage user bans, etc. It would be a real pain in the ass if I had to set those permissions separately for each user -- because permissions extremely detailed and itemized. So, that's what usergroups were designed to manage.

With a discussion board built for a community like ours, the phpBB platform our board uses comes in handy, because there are a lot of different types of access that should be available -- forms of access that can't be generalized to "regular users, moderators, and administrators".

Usergroups are also a way to designate certain subgroups within the greater community. For this and the above reason, the color of usernames is determined based on the default usergroup -- because it's the quickest way to identify what type of access a user has to a board. The username color feature isn't supposed to be about vanity, it's mostly supposed to help you identify moderators and admins who have authority on the board. However, it's also a colorful way of honoring members of special groups of users that don't necessarily have moderator or administrative access.

At The Asylum, we've got quite a lengthy list of usergroups. The groups you'll want to make sure you recognize are the basics:

Users in this group have the highest authority and permissions on the board. We have access to the backend functions of the board, and we control everything that makes the board function as it does. Because my favorite color is red, the official color for Administrators is red.

On most online forums, there are users known as "global moderators" who have moderator access across the entire board, for every forum. At The Asylum, we call them Doctors. They're color is a maroonish purple.

Specialists are Doctors too -- which is why their username is the same color. The difference is that a Specialist is dedicated to a specific forum. They do not necessarily have moderator access everywhere in every forum, but they are the HIGHEST authority of the forum they're assigned to.

Another type of moderator role that is fairly common on other online communities is the "minor mod" or the "cleaning crew". They are the ones who have the ability to approve posts awaiting approval, or move topics to where they belong. They can issue warnings to users who are breaking rules. Mostly their job is to keep things... well, orderly. So, ours are called (aptly) Orderlies. Their color is blue.

Anyone who registers an account at The Asylum is a Patient (even our Doctors and Admins). Members of our community are Patients. Like most registered users of any community, they have basic access to the board; able to post replies to topics or start new ones, etc. Their color is the default black.

For some Patients... it isn't enough to simply be a member of our community. They want to live here and have really committed themselves to The Asylum (pun intended). These are our Residents. Because they're special, they have access to extra forums exclusive to Residents only.

Beyond those groups, there are plenty more which grant various users access to different forums and special privileges based on their role in the greater community. Most groups have "group leaders" who manage the members of each group. Some of these groups might represent a "Support Group" that has it's own forum in Support Groups. Some might represent a guild of RPer's who've got a forum in Role Play Therapy. Some groups shine recognition on members who have contributed to the rest of the website in some form or fashion. Most of these groups will not have a special color assigned to them, they will use the default black.

The ones that do have special colors (aside from the basic groups listed previously):
- Production Team
- Beta Testers
- V.I.P Patients

The color of your username, as well as your rank* (the title-type-thing under your username) will depend on which group you have set as your default. My username is red, for example, because "Administrators" is my default usergroup.

You can find the complete list of usergroups in the User Control Panel on the "Usergroups" tab. If you are a member of multiple usergroups, then you may be able (depending on which groups you're a member of) to change your default usergroup here. If you're interested in joining a usergroup, this is also where you can add yourself to the freely open groups, or request to join a group that relies on a group leader's approval. There are some groups (like Administrators, for example) that you must be invited to join.

If you still have any questions about usergroups, go ahead and post a reply to this topic. I would be more than happy to explain further.

- - - - - - -

* NOTE: Ranks are actually a little more complicated than what I described in this paragraph. Those will be explained in a separate article.
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