Jared, I’m not the official welcome wagon, but I do spend a lot of time on A|N, so I’ll take the liberty to welcome you and tell you a little about the site.
There are three ways to join in the conversations here. You can use the CHAT ROOM, or you can post a discussion in either the FORUM or in one of the GROUPS. The FORUM has different categories for posting discussions, and it is open to everyone here. To post a discussion or comment in a GROUP, you must first join that group.
There are over 500 groups so far, so just about any area of interest you can have will be represented. There are regional groups, groups for ex-Christians or ex-Muslims, and groups for pot smokers, bikers, singles, gamers, the LGBT community, parents, and pet lovers. Groups of common interest include: music, science, writing, politics, philosophy, morality, ethics, cinema, feminism, human rights, memetics, sexuality, history, race & culture, gardening, vegetarianism, books, propaganda, Cynicism, Objectivism, news, Doctor Who, free speech, the NFL, psychology, science fiction, horror films, Star Trek, and much more.
You are welcome to start your own group, but I might suggest that you first check to make sure that no such group for that particular interest already exists (for example, we already have four LGBT groups).
When commenting in a group, be sure to select FOLLOW at the bottom of the screen so that you’ll be informed of follow up comments to either the discussion, or to your comments. Also, the unspoken preference on A|N for responding to the comments of another member tend to be that you copy the text to which you are referring, paste it in your comment, italicize it, and then write your response below that. That way everyone knows to whom or what you are referring. You should also activate all links or URLs you post.
The best way to see what’s going on elsewhere on the site is to monitor the LATEST ACTIVITY feed on the right side of the screen. You’ll see new members announced and the conversations that are attracting the most attention.
Again, welcome aboard. I hope you enjoy it here, as I do.