A discussion of the Ubuntu Forums would be incomplete without a mention of some of the more frivolous and whimsical aspects of this community. These exist to remind us that life is about more than technology and that we are doing more than answering tech support questions. Ultimately, we are dealing with people, people who have names and faces and personalities and feelings. We want to give good and accurate information in the forums, and we want to be completely safe for browsing at work or school, but we do not strive for a stark, professional-only sort of atmosphere.
To begin, community members are given the opportunity to express their personality through their forum account. To access the various settings and personalization options, click UserCP and select User Control Panel from the front page of the forums.
From here you may create or edit a signature, a short bit of text that will be added to each of your posts in the forums. Some users put useful information there, others whimsical quotes. You can edit your avatar, which is a small graphic image that you use to identify or represent you to other forum members. You can also add an additional profile picture to be displayed to any user who chooses to view your profile on the forums. There are lots of options for customization, with the opportunity to be as public or private about your real-life identity as you desire.
You will also notice that each user has a few things related to him or her that have some connection to coffee. User titles like “Dark Roasted Ubuntu” and “Ubuntu Extra Shot” are just a fun way to reward community members as they post in the tech support areas. Every time you post in those areas, you earn a bean. As your bean count grows, your coffee-based user title changes, as does your user rank image—the set of coffee-based icons that appears near your username. You will see things like green beans, roasted beans, coffee cups of various styles and fill levels, and more. All of this is done for fun and is not intended to imply that users with high bean counts are any more or less capable than users with low bean counts. Rather, it is an amusing way to say thank you to those who have the time and willingness to hang around and help the community.
There are lots of other surprises in the forums as well. Occasionally forum staff will call a random “tribute” week, inviting users to change their avatars to honor someone or something dear to the heart of the community. There are avatar dress-up times, such as before Halloween, and the staff has been known to change the entire forum look for April Fool’s Day.