Every page on Shifti has an associated "talk" page that is intended as a place where users can post or respond to comments about the contents or subject of the page it's associated with. In the default "monobook" skin that most users view Shifti with, the talk page can be accessed via the "discussion" tab at the top of the page.
Talk pages can be edited in the same way that any other page on Shifti can be edited, they have no inherent structure like most web forums or mailing lists would have. There are several conventions that one should adhere to in order to make sure that the flow of conversation can be followed correctly.
Whenever one starts a new topic, one should add a section header with a simple description of the topic. Once a talk page becomes long enough this will result in a table of contents being generated that makes it easier to find particular topics. If you're editing a talk page via the "edit" link one must add the header manually. However, there are two other mechanisms one can use to add comments; in the monobook skin there's a "+" link next to the edit link on talk pages that takes you to a form specifically intended for starting a new topic; there will be a separate field above the main text entry field where one should type the text that will go in the subject header.
Signing your comments
To automatically add your signature to the text you've written, you can use either a string of three tildes (the ~ character) or a string of four tildes. When you hit the "save page" button a string of three tildes will be converted into a link to your user page, and a string of four tildes will be converted into both a link to your user page and the current time and date. Using four tildes is recommended to make it easier to keep track of when your comment was made.
In summary, add ~~~~ to the end of your comment to automatically add your signature.
Using indents when responding to comments
As a simple form of "threading", it is customary to indent your response to someone else's comments by one level more than the comment you're responding to. Indents are done by adding colons (:) to the front of each paragraph, so one would simply add one more colon to the front than the comment you're posting a response to. For example:
This is the initial comment "A". No indentation.
- This comment "B" is a response to the initial comment "A". One indentation.
- This comment "C" is a response to "B". Two indentations.
- This comment "D" is also a response to "B". Two indentations.
- This comment "E" is a response to "D". Three indentations.
- This comment "F" is another response to "A". One indentation.
This comment "G" is a new comment that isn't a response to any of the previous comments.
Talk page etiquette
Although it is theoretically possible to edit or delete another user's comments, it is almost always inappropriate to do so.
One major exception is user talk pages or talk pages on stories; in these cases it is reasonable for the author whose user page or story it is to delete any comments he wishes. Please don't take it personally if a comment of yours gets deleted. Some authors actively seek critiques while others prefer not to receive them, it's best to respect authors' wishes in these regards.
When a talk page becomes very large it may become necessary to "archive" older threads by copying them into a subpage. Since high-volume discussion is not expected on most pages this should be a fairly rare event. Authors may wish to simply delete old comments from their own talk pages rather than archiving them.