FAQ: Technical Questions and Answers

Q: How can I log in if I've forgotten my username?

A: Our forum will accept your username or email address to log in. In the event you have forgotten both your username and email, please contact our Member Services department at the Contact Us link on the bottom of every forum page. With an old email address or a guess at a past username, we can often retrieve these for you.

Q: Why is my email address blocked for registration?

A: We require use of a valid, reputable email address for registration. See the answer to the next FAQ entry for the reasons why.

Q: I am trying to change my email address, but it is getting rejected. How can I use this email address?

A: To combat spam, we have blocked many top-level domains from being used for email addresses, as those are notorious for being used with throwaway accounts by spammers. If you cannot use one of the common free email services (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, etc.), contact the staff privately so they can manually change your email address for you.

Q: I have lost my password! Can you send it to me?

A: You can reset your password using the link on our login menu. Due to secure cryptographic one-way hashing, we cannot send you your old password.

Q: Why does my password need to be so complex?

A: Hackers use both dictionary attacks, and lists of commonly used passwords, to break into accounts on sites. Our forum gives you guidance as to how secure your new password is.

Q: Can you recommend a safe password?

A: Certainly! Avoid using words or proper names, common letter/number sequences, or anything else that can easily be guessed. Never use your account username or email as a password. Also, never use the same password at more than one site. The best practice is to generate a random password which includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation; a random character password which is 16 characters or longer is considered strong.

Some browsers will suggest a secure password for you, or you can use an online secure password generator to do this for you.

Q: Should I use Two-Step Verification with my forum account? How does it work?

A: Two factor authentication (called "two-step verification" by the forum) ensures that your account remains safe. It requires two different authentication methods (such as a username/password combination, and a code sent to a device in your possession) before you can log in. The forum accepts four types of two-factor authentication:
  • Using an authenticator app* on your phone or tablet;
  • Using your email account;
  • Using a security key**;
  • Using backup codes generated by the forum.
The forum will walk you through the steps of setting up each authentication method, and you can view and print (or write down) your backup codes to keep offline for future use.

* Common no-cost authenticator mobile apps include Microsoft Authenticator, Google Authenticator, Yubico Authenticator, KeePassX, Lastpass and Authy. Any authenticator app that supports OATH TOTP protocols will work. Authenticator apps generate a thirty second six-digit passcode to use when you log in.

** Any hardware security device which is FIDO U2F compatible will work with XenForo, including USB security keys and fingerprint readers. In addition, some brands of smartphones can be used as security keys, as can Microsoft's Windows Hello. As the addon that provides the security key authentication is in an early stage, we do not officially support this method. But if you are computer savvy enough, you can probably get this to work.

Q: I set up Two-Step Verification and the forum is not accepting my code. What can I do?

A: One common cause of verification failure is the time between your devices is not in sync. (Example--using an app on a smartphone to generate your verification code, to type into a computer.) You might also try clearing the cookies for our forum. Otherwise, use the Contact Us link at the bottom of any forum page to reach out to staff, who can temporarily disable your Two-Step Verification so you can regain access to your account.

Q: What exactly is two-factor authentication?

A: In systems security, there are three factors of authentication:
  1. Something you know, such as your password;
  2. Something you have, such as a smartphone or computer that can receive email or text messages, or a USB security key;
  3. Something you are, meaning biometric identification (fingerprint and retina scans, facial recognition, etc.).
Using one factor of authentication is considered unsafe. Having two factors of authentication helps ensure that an unauthorized person cannot get into your account. if someone remote (such as a hacker in another country) guesses your password, for example, they would not have either of the two remaining factors to gain access to your account.

Q: Why can't I stay logged into my forum account? I keep getting logged out.

A: Try clearing the cookies for our site, and try again. In rare instances, a cookie can become corrupted with incorrect data and preventing your computer or phone from keeping you logged in. In addition, browser plugins (extensions) that block ads or manipulate JavaScript or CSS code can cause incompatibilities--there is no need to use those here, so you may try whitelisting our site and seeing if that helps.

Q: Why can't I upload images to the forum?

A: Due to limited server space and for liability reasons, we prefer not to host images on our server. With the many free image hosting servers available on the Internet, there are plenty of places to host your photos.

Q: Your font is too small! Can you make it larger?

A: Most browsers have a feature that let you enlarge the text of the site you are visiting, and this is often available through keyboard shortcuts. Ctrl + in a Chrome-based browser, for instance, will enlarge the text by 10%.

Q: How can I use colored text in the forum?

A: Given that we now offer both light and dark themes for the forum, a fixed color in the body of a post can often "disappear" for many visitors. For instance, someone using dark red text on a dark grey background is essentially unreadable. Because of this, colored text is not an option in our text editor.

Q: Why is my signature so small, and why I can't I upload an image to it?

A: Signatures are distracting, and disrupt the conversation. We have styled our signatures to be compact and unobtrusive, and they will only appear under a member's first post within a thread. Obviously, images in signatures are even more disruptive, and slow down page loading for visitors on slower connections.

Q: Why doesn't your search function give me the results I'm looking for?

A: We are not Google, Bing, or Duck Duck Go. We do, however, have a Google search feature you can use to find threads that Google has indexed. Also, we suggest searching smarter. If you are getting too many results, you need to fine tune your search. Please see our related article about search operators and how our forum uses them. The search function also cannot find misspelled words--in limited cases we can offer a "Did you mean?" suggestion that offers similar results, but accurate results count on accurate spelling. Visit our Tips and Tricks page in our Help pages for an explanation of how to make the most of the forum search engine.

Q: Why are some of the forum features not working?

A: Ad blockers and browser plugins (extensions) that modify or disable our JavaScript or CSS rendering will cause this. You may safely disable them on our site. Out of date browsers run on old operating systems can also cause issues. If you find you are having trouble using some of our features, don't fear--we have a small tutorial posted here in our Forum Information area to assist you. Before contacting us, please try accessing our forums with all extensions disabled, or try with a second browser or computer. This process of elimination will help you narrow down exactly where the problem lies.

Q: Which browsers do you recommend?

A: The latest version of any modern browser will work well with the forum. The developers strive to make the forum work with a wide variety of browsers across multiple devices, whether they be desktop or laptop computers, phones, or tablets. The forum even retains basic functionality using a text-based browser like Lynx (although to save you the frustration, we don't suggest trying it). We do recommend the most recent stable versions of browsers for your own safety here and elsewhere on the Internet. As such, we also do not provide support if you are running an outdated browser or operating system.

Q: Why don't you have an app for the forum?

A: The forum uses a responsive view that 1) works just fine in mobile browsers and 2) preserves all of the forum functions you find in the desktop version of the site. Many browsers can also support our push notifications as well. (Safari browsers and IOS products do not support push notifications because they refuse to comply to common web standards; sorry, there is nothing the developers can do about it.) We also do not feel that loading up a visitor's phone with yet another app that functions like a browser shell really doesn't solve anything.

Good news, though. You can save our forum's icon to your home screen, and it will open in a "chromeless" window without browser controls to remove clutter, and should show up in your running app list like a separate app.

Q: Why don't you use Tapatalk?

A: After using Tapatalk here and elsewhere for a few years, we noticed many loopholes and vulnerabilities caused by their code that prevented dangerous openings for bad actors to abuse or attack our forums. (One of the loopholes bypassed our registration system and allowed spammers to register without any of the checks built into the system.) Many of the forum's features were lost in the app as well. Add in the half-functional new features that never got debugged, and the lack of support from the developers located halfway around the world who were largely unresponsive, and it was a persistent headache for us. So no, Tapatalk is never going to be used on our forums in the future, nor are any similar alternatives.

Q: Why does my browser give me a warning about insecure content on a page in your forum?

A: In just about all cases, this is due to "mixed content" on a page. Despite the dire warnings, this is most often caused when someone links to a non-encrypted site on the Internet to display an image in their thread, for example. (Using a site linked as http:// rather than https:// will cause this error.) Most sites today use SSL/TLS protocols for encrypting site traffic but some older sites, or sites run by individuals, may not yet be sending their traffic through SSL/TLS. This will cause no problems, other than to bother your browser!

Q: Why is the forum running slow? Can you fix it?

A: We wish it were so simple! A "slow" forum can mean any number of things, some of which are out of our control.

We have many processes running on the server, including processes that combat attacks on the server. Oftentimes there are waves of attacks that try to get through our firewall or find other vulnerabilities and, during those waves, our scripting may use up quite a few resources to combat them. There are also loads on our web server and database processes when traffic gets heavy. A large influx of search bots from the search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) that simultaneously spider our site can sometimes cause a slowdown.

In addition, slowdowns can happen on the Internet. If your Internet provider is having an issue, or if a major Internet backbone has failed, those can cause the forum to be slow for some users and not others. In addition, it can sometimes be a browser or a computer using a lot of resources that make some sites slower to respond than others.

Reporting a slowdown after the fact is not useful to us, nor is starting a thread to complain about it, as we need to observe in real time what is happening. But we do continuously monitor trends and average resource usage, and are aware of the point at which we need to consider making system adjustments or upgrades.

Q: What do you use to combat spam?

A: We use several techniques to help prevent spam from being posted on the forum, including checking against multiple spam databases. For obvious reasons, we do not divulge these techniques.

Q: What server or database software do you use? Where is your forum hosted?

A: For security reasons, we do not give out this information.

Q: Do you use an RSS feed for specific forums or the entire site?

A: We do offer a limited news feed of the entire site, but not for individual forums at this time.

Q: How can I contact you if I cannot log in using my account?

A: We have a Contact Us link at the bottom of every forum page. Our Member Services department will be happy to assist you!