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Zoho Discussions - How Tos



What is Zoho Discussions?

Zoho Discussions is a hosted solution that helps you to create internal (intranets for your employees) and external communities (support forums and idea boards). Using Zoho Discussions, end users can talk about problems, propose and vote on new ideas, ask and answer questions and of course, just bring up a topic for discussion.

What browser do you recommend?

Zoho Discussions is a web based application and it works on any browser like Internet Explorer 7.0+, Firefox 2.0+, Chrome, etc.

What are your customer service hours? Do you provide a phone support?

Our customer service team works 24 hours a day from Monday through Friday. You may reach our toll free number: 1 888 900 9646 (US Timings) to speak to a support representative.

Can I migrate my business from Phpbb forums to Zoho Discussions?

 Yes. We do have experience in migrtaing our ZohoForums from PhpBB to Zoho Discussions. However, you must contact support@zohodiscussions.com to migrate your business to Zoho Discussions.


User Guide

Why can't I see the New Topic button after signing into Zoho Discussions ?

This problem will occur due to one of the reasons below:
  • The forum in which the topic is posted might not have "Post" permission (or)
  • The forums associated to the corresponding portal might be locked.
Please contact your administrator to post topics.

Why can't I post an announcement ?

Announcements can be posted only by the Administrators of the Portal. Please contact your administrator to proceed further.

How do I insert a video into the topic content?

 You can insert a video using the "Insert Object" option in WYSIWYG Editor.

To insert a video:
  1. Go to the WYSIWYG editor.
  2. Select Insert Object option.
  3. Specify the "HTML content" in the text-box.
  4. Click on OK.
    The corresponding video is now embedded in the topic.
How do I insert a screenshot into the topic content / response?

 You can insert a screenshot using the "Insert Image" option WYSIWYG Editor.

To insert a screenshot:
  1. Go to the WYSIWIG editor.
  2. Select Insert Image option.
  3. Browse the required image from your local machine.
  4. Specify the Image Caption and Image Title in the corresponding text-boxes.
  5. Click on OK.
    The screenshot is now inserted in the topic/response.
Can I have my own topic type?

 Currently there is no option to create your own topic type. However, it will be implemented in near future.

Can't find my draft, where do I go wrong?

 There is a chance that you might have not logged into Zoho Discussions or the particular draft might be published. Please login and check your topic list view for the corresponding topic.

I am unable to reply to a topic, what must I do?

 This problem will occur due to one of the reasons below:
  • The forum in which the topic is posted might not have the permission to "Respond" (or)
  • The specific topic, forum or the sub forum might be locked.
Please contact the topic author or the portal administrator to proceed further.

Is it possible to add a comment to a comment?

 Comment can be used only to post your views/suggestions on a specific reply. In short, you can only add your comment to a specific response, not to a comment. To learn more, refer Content Operations

I am unable to vote, what can I do?

 This problem will occur due to one of the reasons below:
  • The specific topic, forum or the sub forum might be locked
  • The corresponding topic might be linked to another type (or)
  • The topic might be an announcement.
Can I undo my vote?

 Currently, there is no option to undo your vote made for a specific topic. However, you can undo the response vote.

Why am I unable to see the "Mark Inappropriate" link?

 Mark Inappropriate link will not be available for Topic Authors, Moderators and Administrators of the Portal. Also, you cannot see this link when the moderator or administrator declares the specific post as an appropriate topic.

Can I change the topic type?

 Yes. You can change the topic type before receiving responses for the specific topic.

To change topic type:
  1. Select the corresponding topic from List View.
  2. In the Post Actions section, click on Change Topic Type (right-side menu).
  3. In the Change Topic type dialog, select the required Topic Type.
    The topic gets changed according to the
    selected topic type.
Why can't I change the topic type of an earlier topic?

 There is a chance that the specific topic would have received responses from your community.

Can I recover the deleted topic?

 Yes. However, you need to contact your portal administrator - who can recover it from the trash bin present in the moderation panel.

Why do I get a message "the content was detected as spam" when I try to post a topic/response?

 A post will be marked as spam due to the following reasons:
  • The specific post might contain words that are considered as spam by our spam engine (or)
  • The webpage corresponding to the link added in your post might contain spam words.
Please check your content or contact your administrator to post the corresponding topic.

Is it possible to see who has voted for an idea / problem / question?

 Currently, it is not possible to see who has voted for your post. However, we have added this feature in our road map list and will be implemented soon.

When I post a topic or a response, will it get auto saved?

 Currently, autosave option is not available in Zoho Discussions. But, we do have plans to implement this in near future.

How do I close a thread?

You can close a thread using the Lock Topic Feature. Zoho Discussions allows you to lock a specific topic, so that users will not be able to post any responses, comments or do any further actions in the corresponding topic. Learn more

Is it possible to freeze the forum topic at the top of the of the screen?

Currently, Zoho Discussions allow you to post announcements, so that you can freeze the particular topic permanently in the widgets section. Also, please note that announcement widget is specific to the forums, in which they are posted. Hence it will be placed at the top of your side-panel (widget area) only in the corresponding forum page.

Zoho Discussions also allows you to freeze significant topics in the widget area, using the Sticky Post feature. With this feature, you can mark a specific topic as sticky, so that it will be displayed in both Portal and Forum widgets permanently.

Can I reply to my watch list email and get the response posted?

 No. It is not possible to post your response by replying to the watch list mail. You must go to the corresponding topic to post your response. However, we have added this feature in our road map list and will be implemented in near future.

How do I increase the number of posts shown per page?

 You can set a maximum of 25 or 50 posts per page.

To increase the number of posts per page:
  • Go to My Area > Preferences section.
  • Set the Posts per page option to 25 or 50, as per your requirement.
  • Click on Save
How do I to set my defautl view mode to "quick view"?

 Please follow the below steps to set your default view:
  • Goto My Area > Preferences section.
  • Set the Default topic view to Quick View.
  • Click on Save
    Your topic view is now changed to quick view.

Admin Guide

How to better SEO value for your Discussion topics? 

SEO Settings allow you to optimize your portal URL with the Meta tags to generate meaningful content. This turn help your content be more visible to search engines and helping users reach your website.
In addition to Meta tags, Zoho Discussions offers various techniques, with which you can increase the SEO value for your discussions topics:

  • Search Engine-friendly descriptive URLS - no additional configuration / plug-ins to install.
  • Topic title is setup meaningfully as a page title, therefore improving relevancy
  • Starting even from the Basic plan, you can configure multiple domains for your forums area. Zoho Discussions will automatically channel all these domains to a single chosen "primary domain" so that your users retain context while you also get good search engine mileage.
  • Embeddable forums - you can also embed an entire portal inside your website - either to simplify visual integration or to provide contextual widgets with recent discussions.

Can I change my portal URL?

It is not possible to change your portal URL, once created. However, you can point it to the required URL using the Domain Mapping feature so that your users can access your community using your own domain. To learn more about Domain Mapping, refer this link

What is Domain Mapping?

Domain Mapping is a process of mapping your own URLs with your discussions portal, so that your users will be able to access your community using the configured domain, instead of http://discussions.zoho.com/<portal domain>. Learn More.

Why can't I access my portal after configuring a portal domain?

You might not have mapped the particular domain’s CNAME entry to to this IP address: So, please make sure that you have completed this setup to access your portal using the configured domain.

Is it possible to place ads in my discussions board?

Yes. With the help of HTML Widgets, you can embed the HTML code of any objects, Images, Videos etc. in your portal to promote / advertise your product.

To add a HTML widget:

  • Go to Settings section.
  • Select the Widgets tab under Portal settings from the left side menu.
  • Click on Add HTML Widget button from the right-side menu.
  • Enter the Widget Name, Description and the HTML Code in the corresponding text-boxes. See image below
  • Click on Save.

What is the difference between a portal and forum widget?

Portal widgets are displayed across your portal. It can be viewed from the recent topics and All Forums page. However, forum widgets can be viewed only when the corresponding forum page is accessed. You can create individual widgets for every forum in your portal.

 How do notifications work?

Notifications are the alerts, which help you to keep updated on the items that you follow. Zoho Discussions sends notifications through Email and Chat feed. You can choose the required notification type according to your need. For Example: If you follow a forum, you will receive notifications for all topics, responses and commented posted on the specific forum via Email & Chat feed.

How do I stop receiving notification emails?

To unsubscribe from email notifications, please follow the steps below:

  • Go to My Area > Watchlist
  • Select the appropriate tab (Topics, Users, Forums, Sub Forums) to see the list of items that you follow.
  • Click on Stop Following next to the watchlist item to unsubscribe.

Alternatively, you can simply click on the "unwatch" link available in the corresponding notification email (footer section) to stop further receiving notifications.

How do I set up an idea board?

Creating an idea board with Zoho Discussions is fast and easy. All you need is to set "Idea" as your portal's default topic type and then you can allow users to post/share only ideas.

To set default topic type:

  • Go to Settings section.
  • Click on Preferences tab under Portal settings from the left side menu.
  • Scroll down to the Customize Topic Types section.
  • Choose the required topic type(s) and click on Make it default button. See image below.

What is private messaging?

Private messaging allows users to send messages privately to other users in your online community, without revealing their personal information. As an administrator, you can enable the private messaging preference for your user profiles so that they can use this specific feature.

How do I set up a public forum?

A public forum can be accessed by all website visitors. Please follow the below steps to a create public forum:

    1. Go to Settings section.
    2. Select the Forums tab and click on New link from the left side menu.
      This opens the New Forum Details page.
    3. Update Basic Details:
      • Name: Enter your forum name.
      • Description: Provide a short description about your forum.
      • Forum Type: Choose your forum type to be Public.
    4. Assign Forum Moderators:
      • Forum Moderators: Enter the Email ID(s) or Name(s) of the portal member whom you want to nominate as a moderator of this forum.
      • Moderator Groups: Select a required group from the drop-down list, if you wish to assign moderators from a particular group.
    5. Configure Forum Permissions:
      • Enable the View permission to Everyone.
      • Enable the Post permission to Everyone.
      • Enable the Response permission to Everyone.
      • Enable the Attach files permission to Everyone.
      • Enable the Moderate Users permission for None, Guest or Everyone.
    6. Click on Create.
      The public forum gets created and available for your community

What happens if I lock a forum?

Locking a forum allows you to end all active discussions. When a forum is locked, it stops your forum members from adding topics, posting responses, comments in the corresponding forum.

To lock a forum:

  1. Go to Settings > Forums.
  2. Choose the Forum that you want to lock from the left side menu.
    This opens the General settings page.
  3. Scroll down to Permissions Levels section and go to Security Levels:
  4. Enable the Lock check-box.
  5. Click on Save Changes.
    The selected forum is now locked from posting. You can unlock the forum whenever required.

How many users can be invited at a time?

Zoho Discussions allows you to invite a maximum of 100 users at a time. You can specify multiple Email IDs separated by comma in the Invite Users text-box.

In addition, you can enable the Membership Subscription or SSO technique and allow your users to join your community directly, without having to send them portal invitations.

How do I change a user's role i.e., from member to a moderator?

Please follow the below to change a user role:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on Users > Members tab from the left side menu
    This shows the list of your portal members.
  3. Select the user for whom you want to change the role and click on Manage.
  4. Click on Permissions tab and assign the following permission levels:
    • Portal Permission: Choose to assign the user with Member or Admin permission from the drop-down list.
    • Forum Permission: Choose to assign the user with Member or Moderator permission from the drop-down list.
      The user role gets updated.

Can I create new groups directly from my discussions portal?

Yes. You can create user groups directly from within your discussions portal. For more information on Groups, click here

How do I delete a user who belongs to a group?

In Zoho Discussions, it is not possible to delete a user who belongs to a specific group directly from your discussions board. You need to delete him/her from the associated group, so that the corresponding user gets automatically removed from your portal.

How many labels can I create?

Zoho Discussions allows you add any number of labels within your portal. However, you can map only one label to a user for the portal and for each one of the forums in your portal.

How do I map a label for a user?

Please follow the below steps to map user label:

1. Go to Settings.
2. Click on Users > Members tab from the left side menu.
This shows the list of your portal members
3. Select the user from the list and click on Manage.
4. Click on Labels tab and select the Portal and Forum labels from the corresponding drop-down lists.
The selected label gets updated for the user.

Is it possible to download the attachments?

Yes. You can download all the attachments that are used in your portal from Attachment Settings section.

To download attachments:

  1. Click on Settings > Attachments.
  2. Select the Manage tab from the left-side menu.
    This displays the list of attachments present in your portal.
  3. Select the required file that you would like to download and click on Download link.
What if I do not see the file extension that I would like to allow?

You can add the required extension in the Attachment section so that the corresponding format will be allowed in your portal.

To add extensions:

  1. Go to Settings > Attachments section
  2. Select the Extensions link from the left-side menu
  3. Click on New Extension link
  4. Specify the required file extension in the text box and click on Add.
    The specified extension is added to your portal.
Does Zoho Discussions provides sample templates? 

Yes. Below is a list of sample templates, which you can download and paste the HTML codes in the relevant fields to customize your portal.

  • Template to customize header: Download
  • Template to customize footer: Download
  • Template to customize user login page: Download
  • Sample Custom Style Sheet: Download
What are the different levels of customization options available?

You can customize your discussions portal at various levels to change its complete look and feel, so that it matches your website visually. The different levels of customization are:

  • Brand logo: You can upload your product or company logo, which will be displayed prominently in your portal header.
  • Enable/Disable Topic Types: You can easily create a Q&A forum, or an Idea board or a customer support community by enabling the corresponding topic type.
  • Domain Mapping: You can map your own URLs with your portal to access your community in your own domain.
  • Change Portal Themes: Zoho Discussions provides you a set of default themes that enables you to change the color theme of your portal.
  • Custom Widgets: You have the ability to create custom widgets - HTML and Link Widgets - with which you can embed any HTML objects and add your product links, so that your users can make the most out of it.
  • Customize Header/Footer: You can update your own HTML tags to customize your portal's header and footer according to what you need.
  • CSS customization: You can upload your own style sheet to change the fonts, colors and style of the entire portal.

What is Single Sign On?

Single Sign On is a REST API based technique, which allows your users to seamlessly navigate between your website and your online community. Your users can access your community using their existing login mechanism, without having to create an account with Zoho.

Whom should I contact to integrate SSO into my portal?

If you wish to integrate SSO into your discussions portal, contact our support team at support@zohodiscussions.com along with your business requirements. We can guide you with the necessary steps accordingly.

What does Email-to-forum mean?

Zoho Discussions enables you to create topics through email using the Email-to-Forum functionality. To use this function, you must configure an Email ID with your portal. With this configuration, users can submit a post on your discussions portal simply by sending an email to the configured Email ID i.e., every message sent to the configured Email ID gets posted as a topic in your discussions portal, with the default topic type as "Discussions". You can later change the topic type according to the content posted.

Is it possible to configure multiple Email IDs for a single forum?

No. In Zoho Discussions, you can configure only one Email ID for a forum to receive feedback through a feedback widget.

How does feedback widget work?

Zoho Discussions provides a easy way for your customers to leave you feedback directly from your website, without having to enter your discussions portal.

You can create a feedback widget for each one of the forums in your account and include the most relevant widget in your page. All the information that are captured will automatically be routed to the applicable forum - just like any other post on your online forums and make it public. You can also choose to make it private and get it via e-mail.

How do I change the tab position of the feedback widget?

You can customize the widget tab to change its position and color according to what you want.

To customize widget tab:

  • Go to Settings > Integrations section.
  • Click on Feedback Widgets tab from the left side menu.
  • In the Customization Details section, specify the following details:
  • Tab Alignment: Choose the tab alignment to decide the position of the tab. The given options are: Left, Right, Top, Bottom, or Hidden.
    Note: If hidden, the tab customization option will completely be disabled.
  • Tab Color: Point your mouse on the Tab Color text-box to choose the color of your tab.
  • Text Color: Point your mouse on the Text Color text-box to choose the color of the "Feedback" text.

What are the benefits of integrating Google Analytics into my portal?

Using google analytics, you can know how many users are visiting your portal and the overall traffic to your discussion board. This in turn helps you to understand the success of your online community by measuring your portal activities.

Where do I get the Key for my domain?

The key is the Web property ID of your website profile, which can be found from Google Analytics. To learn more, refer this link.


What is moderation and what are the roles of a moderator?

Moderating is the process of controlling topics and its associated information. Zoho Discussions allows you (administrator) to assign moderators to your portal, to moderate topics and users.
  • Moderate topics: All responses and comments made to the moderated topic will be published, only if the moderator approves it.
  • Moderate Users: Any post (topics, reply, comment) made by the moderated user will be published, only if the moderator approves it. It can be in forum level and portal level.
In addition, moderators are also responsible to approve/delete spam posts, inappropriate posts, restore/delete trash items.

I am not logged in and don't see the topic I posted, what must I do?

Ans: Please log into Zoho Discussions and check for your topic. If still the same issue persists, there is a possibility that the specific topic might be pending for your moderator's approval. Please contact your moderator/administrator to get your topic posted.

Why do I see a "topic awaiting moderation" note whenever I try to respond?

 This could be due to one of the reasons below:
  • The specific topic to which you would try responding might be under moderation.
  • You might be moderated by your portal administrator or moderator (or)
  • The forum in which the topic is posted might be under moderation. In this case, all posts made for the first time by any user will be pending for moderation.

    So, please contact your administrator or moderator to get your topic posted.

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