Welcome to hubski! This is a simple guide to everything you probably need to know before doing anything. The first thing you should do is create an account. This is as straightforward as any other website. You need an account if you want your feed to be full of interesting things that correspond to your interests.
So once you have an account, you will probably want to follow some users. But where do you find people? There are 2 main places to start:
1. Community - This is the page to find people who are popular, tags that are trending and just generally what is going on in hubski. My recommendation is to follow a bunch of top followed users, and slowly pick away people who don't post things you're interested in, but that is just me. It's totally up to you who you follow. When you click the person's name, info about their recent posts and what they usually post. Use that as a guideline on who to follow. 2. TMI - This is good for some insight into who is popular at the moment. If you're not into people who are popular, feel free to ignore these two and surf global for a while and find people who posts awesome content.
Once you have followed some people (15-30 is usually a good amount to keep from clutter), you can start participating in discussions and submit content. I'll go over these two things.
This is probably the most important part of hubski. This is what makes our site unique and interesting to visit. It could not be for you though. If you find yourself to be someone who can't bear reading a big wall of text, maybe you should should some time lurking before you start discussing. Generally we expect you to have read the submission, and if you are responding to someone, that comment. It's pretty rude to comment otherwise.
So this is the part where I tell you that hubski is a place for interesting, insightful and respectful discussion. All 4 of those words are really important. Generally, if you are critizing, be constructive. If you aren't well versed in the subject at hand, either explicitly say so or research some before posting. If you want to tell someone anything, be respectful in your tone. Act as if you would in a book club where everyone knows who you are and how you act. Understand you are talking to another human being with feelings just like yours, if not more sensitive. Generally, do not be a dick to other people.
It's really okay to talk about any topic on hubski, but remember that hate and disrespect will be follow up with people ignoring you. If you like a topic, feel free to start a conversation about it.
This is important. mk, b_b and thenewgreen and plenty others have worked exceptionally hard to make this site what it is today. If you have a complaint, a suggestion or a bug, remember how much they have to deal with. These guys are really awesome, and deserve nothing but praise. You make mistakes too.
Small notes: Posting comments in threads that are old is okay. We strive to make content "time-less", meaning that it does not matter when it was posted, but rather what is inside the post. This is different than a lot of forums and social networking sites.
Be sure you understand the formatting of comments before making them, and check to be sure it is formatted correctly before going along on your way to other posts. Formatting is available by clicking the "markup" button beside text boxes.
This is the part where you make hubski a better place by putting just a little effort in. This is also the part that you should not feel obligated to do. If you don't have anything that you think people should see, there's no reason to post some low-effort content on this site.
If you do have things you'd like people to see and discuss, post them! As you prove yourself to post interesting content, more and more people will begin to follow you. It might take some time, but eventually if there are people who want to see it, they will follow you.
This is where I advise you not to think of this like reddit, or any other "karma-based" reputation systems. In fact, your shares are only visible to you. So please, please do not treat hubski like a competition.
Note: Hubski is not like reddit (I use this site because it is a direct example) because submissions do not get "burried" if shares do not come in quick enough. If you have posted, it will show up on your follower's feeds. If they share it, it will show up on theirs, and so on. So do not think that just because an article is long or takes time to go through it will be ignored. Oftentimes the posts with the most shares have the most amount of content, with the exception of text posts.
So you are probably confused with how the hubwheel (hubski's logo) works with posts and comments, and why some users have different colour names. These are common questions, with simple answers. When you click the hubwheel on a post, that shares it to all of your followers. When you click it on a comment, it acts in a similar way as an upvote on other websites (HN, reddit). Comments gain visibility in the thread with more votes, while shares broadcasts the posts to your followers. Posts with more shares are rarely prioritised in your feed over other posts, because the amount of shares is not how likely the content is appealing to you. It is way more about who shared it to you, and how many people of the people you follow shared that content.
Tags are used to indicate what the post is about, try to be as specific as possible without making the tag irrelevant. Only one tag is allowed per post, but the community can add a second tag if someone has more than one badge.
Generally, you should share content your followers will find interesting based off your previous posts. Sure, there is nothing wrong with sharing something out of the ordinary, but be sure to understand that people follow you for different reasons and that kind of content may not be one of them.
Three more things
1. Badges are earned through an algorythm that detects how much discussion your posts start. This includes things like shares, comments and comment votes. The hubwheel that is under your name on the left hand side indicates how close you are to earning your next badge. Once it becomes full, you can use that badge to highlight extra good comments and posts.
2. The "discover" links are useful for finding content you would not find on your feed. Content there is everything that does not show up on your feed. The global feed is a good place to find popular and unshared content.
3. To private message a person, click their username and press the "send mail to username" button. These conversations are good if you have a concern about what they have said and want to clear things up privately. It's good for all other kinds of things too.
A short note about ignoring: You can ignore both users and tags. Ignoring tags prevents any post with that tag attached from going on your feed, and ignoring users prevent their posts from making it to your feed and their comments are not shown on your posts. Use the function to it's best ability, but don't overdo it. (it's always possible good content could come in a tag you've ignored)
Hubwheel - The logo for hubski in the top left corner that indcates how popular a post is. Badge - Something given to posts and comments that are exceptional by people who have earned badges. Followers - People who have followed you, similar to twitter followers. Posts / Submissions - Things users post to generate discussions with others.
Hubski is a place for sharing thoughtful information and conversation. Here you can find interesting stories, ideas and events, and share what interests you with others. Feel free to spend some time here, and if it's not for you, it's not for you. Thanks :)
Frankly, I feel this is all that hubski needs as an intro, its up to a user to get what they want out of the site. Each user interacts with other users and if you post things you find interesting, people you find interesting should follow you and vice versa. If you are not interested in anything then don't expect anyone else to be interested in you.