TL;DR: By popular demand, we are rolling out 9to5Forums.com built on the Vanilla platform. As part of this new structure, we are moving our comments going forward to Vanilla, as well. Single sign up for both is quick and easy (including login with Twitter/Facebook/Open ID, etc.). Oh, and there will be prizes!

Long version:

By far, the most requested item we get from readers is the addition of a forum to our websites. We have looked at options for a long time now, and we finally settled a system called Vanilla Forums a few months ago. Vanilla is much different from the now-standard vBulliten forums you are probably used to, and we think you will like the difference. In fact, it has become addictive to us.

Rather than having two separate communication platforms, we are also switching off our current Intense Debate comments. In its place, we are putting a 9to5Forum thread at the bottom of each post. You will see the top 10 forum posts at the bottom, and then we will send you over to 9to5Forums for the rest of the comments.

Here is just a taste of what is on tap:

Q/A: One of the biggest things we use forums for is to find answers to our tech questions from the community. When you ask a question on our forums, it goes out like a normal new post. However, a tally of unanswered questions appears in every member’s queue. On the left side of everyone’s window is a small notification that links to unanswered questions.

Clicking on a question and answering it will earn you points. Good comments in general give you points too.

People with the most points at the end of the week will be eligible for some fun prizes including upcoming 9to5Mac coffee mugs, review items, app promo codes, and other great stuff. We will contact winners and announce on the @9to5forums Twitter account.

Self Moderation: While we do have moderators on hand (myself included), a lot of the moderation will be done by you, the members. You will see every post and comment has voting, and a low quality or spam item—after a certain amount of down votes—will be pulled into a moderation queue and eventually deleted if it is low quality material. Low quality posts also incur a small point penalty to the authors.

Flow: Due to the way the forums are set up, you will find a more conversational experience. You can address people with the familiar “@username”, and everything flows much more like a conversation among a group of people.

Besides being eligible for prizes, authors with high-point counts will eventually have their posts and comments featured more prominently.

The current 9to5Forums setup is fluid and will change as the forums mature. You can email mods at forums AT 9to5mac.com for questions, requests, etc.

As I mentioned earlier, it only takes a few seconds to sign up (with your Twitter, Google, Facebook, OpenID, or an email account), and if you have cookies enabled in your browser you will not have to sign in again.

We hope to see you inside.

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