Quick Start Guide - SAIS Connect

Welcome! Here are some instructions to help you navigate this new platform. For a quick overview, watch the 6-minute Brief Tour of SAIS Connect or check out the features here.

Basic Terms

  • Topic: The collection of messages grouped together in a conversation, with a title, listed in a community, beginning with an original post (OP), and including all replies in chronological order.
  • Post: Each message/reply on a topic is referred to as a post. Each post has its own author.
  • Original Post (OP): The first post in any topic.
  • Community: Communities align with roles in your school (e.g., academic support, deans, lower school heads). Each community is restricted by permissions to determine who can create, reply, and see topics. You can configure your notification preferences per community or even mute them as explained below. Communities are similar to ‘forums’ on other platforms.
  • Tag: A marker placed on a topic to describe it. A topic can have multiple tags.
  • User: SAIS Connect is a member-only site, restricted to those who are employed by an SAIS member school.


Communites and Topic Lists

By default, the SAIS Connect homepage will show all the Latest conversations (that you have access to) in the community but you can filter this list in a number of ways:


  • By community: in the menu line, click the ‘all communities’ title and a list of all the communities appears.

  • By tag: in the menu line, click the ‘all tags’ title and a list of all the tags are used will appear.

  • By level of activity: if you click on ‘Top’ the conversation topics will be listed in order of most activity (views and replies) for a specific time period. You can choose whether this is for all time, or select a specific period such as quarter, month, week, or just today.

  • By what’s “new” to you: by default, new topics are those created in the last two days that you have not opened yet to keep the list fresh and relevant. New topics show a small blue dot next to the topic title

  • By what topics are “unread”: by default, unread topics are those that you have previously opened and read for at least four minutes, and that have new posts (replies) submitted to them. Unread topics show a number in a blue circle indicating how many new posts are in the topic.

See who is participating

On the homepage you will see a selection of avatars (profile pictures) of:

  • the user who started the topic (always the first photo)
  • a selection of the most active participants
  • who created the most recent post (usually the last photo)

In some cases, the first photo has a blue border or blue halo to indicate that the original poster is also the most recent poster

Navigation Tools

  • For Search, the Menu, or your User page, use the icon buttons at the upper right.

Keep scrolling

Click a topic title and read down the list of replies in chronological order, following links or previewing replies and quotes as you go. Use your mouse to scroll the screen, or use the timeline scroll bar on the right which also shows you how far through the conversation you’ve read. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.

Taking Part in Conversations


Press any reply-button Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply.


SAIS Connect shows all posts in the order they are published. It does not make you chase down multiple threaded paths. However, it still gives you lots of ways to follow the context of conversations.

To reply to a specific post in a topic, click the Reply button at the end of a post and your reply will be linked to that post.


Drafts will automatically be saved as you write. If you minimize the editor or navigate to a different topic, the editor might disappear. To open a draft, return to the topic you were replying to or click the highlighted bar at the bottom of your browser, and the editor will reappear with your draft.


To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. There is no need to quote a whole message: it helps to be specific. Repeat this for multiple quotes even from different posts and different users. The quoted text will point to their original source.



To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type @ to begin selecting a username. This search will also search the name fields in case you don’t know a particular username.



Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown:

This is <b>bold</b>.
This is [b]bold[/b].
This is **bold**.

For more formatting tips, try our 10 minute tutorial.

Actions and Reactions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:


  • To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!
  • Grab a copy-pasteable (permalink) link to any reply or topic via the link button.
  • Use the button to reveal more actions. Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page.


When someone is talking directly to you — by replying to you, quoting your post, mentioning your @username, or even linking to your post, a blue number will immediately appear over your profile picture at the top right.

When you have been sent a Personal Message you will receive this in your Inbox and a green number will appear over your profile picture to the left.

Click your profile image to scroll through all your notifications.


You can optionally receive all these notifications as push notifications to your desktop browser or Android device. Simply allow the site to send you notifications through your browser when it asks permission.

Don’t worry about missing a reply—you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.

If you want, you can get notified about other things happening on the site as well, either at the community or topic level.

Topic notifications

You can change your notification level for any individual topic via the notification control at the bottom, and right hand side, of each topic. If a particular topic isn’t of interest to you, you might opt to choose Muted or Normal to quiet the notifications.

Community notifications

Notification level can also be set per community. To change any of these defaults, see your user preferences, or visit the community page, and use the notification control above the topic list, on the right side.

If you have any questions on how to use this site, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at connect@sais.org