We’ve talked about what contact templates are, but now I’d like to talk about a tip for those hardcore users of them, like myself. Consider using a text expander. This is a program that allows you to type a string of text and have it replaced by another string of text, most commonly a longer one. These applications have all sorts of uses, but one thing they can be great for is in making your contact templates readily and quickly accessible.
I have contact templates for each of my forums, with links to that forums’ guidelines and the name of the site, etc. So, I have developed an easy to remember system that allows me to quickly enter any contact template into a text box where I am working on a message to a member.
How It Works
I have an abbreviation for all of my sites. KarateForums.com is KF. SportsForums.net is SFN. And so on. And then each template is associated with something. Like inflammatory or vulgar. Put them together and what do I get?
Well, when I type “kfinflammatory” without the quotation marks, my inflammatory comments template for KarateForums.com automatically fills itself into the text box. Poof. Just like that. When I type “sfninflammatory” without the quotes, the same happens, but with the SportsForums.net version of the template. Yeah, I could do a shorter string, but it’s just easy for me, so I roll with it.
After testing this out for a while, I can’t live without it. I recommended it to all of my staff members, so that they could make more efficient use of their time, as well.
As an alternative, you could have something like a drop down menu for staff members above your new private message text box that allowed them to easily select the template they needed and have it inserted. This has some benefits, as well, such as them always having the most up to date version of every template. But, this likely isn’t possible without some sort of hack to your forum software. Anyone can install a text expander.
Text Expander Options
Speaking of installing a text expander, I am on Windows and I use Texter, a free piece of software from Lifehacker. I did some research looking for a Mac one, for my staff members that had a Mac, but I could not find a good free one. The one that seems to be widely recommended is TextExpander, which is $29.95. I can’t expect my staff members to lay out that kind of cash for something like that, though, that they might only use on my site.
But, if you are a power computer user, a text expander is a great app to have in your productivity arsenal. You’ll find more uses for it than just this one. I definitely recommend checking them out.