These are some Frequently Asked Questions about this service, with some answers.

Using the site

How do I reply to/favorite a post?/What are those black bars in other people's posts?

In the bottom-right corner of every post is a set of buttons allowing various operations to be performed on each post. Here is a list of each button, from left to right, as well as the function each is used for.

Decode spoilers
Toggles the appearance of the black bars, or spoilers, in notices, to show what is hidden in them. If there are no spoilers in a notice, this button runs the entire notice text through an ROT13 filter, which is useful for decoding spoilers in old notices made before the spoiler tags existed.

Favorite this notice
Adds the notice to your list of favorite notices. This also sends an e-mail to the author of the notice, if they have the option enabled. Notices that acquire a lot of favorites in a short time go to the Popular Notices section of the public timeline.

Reply to this notice
Begins a reply to the notice in question. Replies are linked back to their parent notice, and allow other users to browse the conversation easily at a later date.

Repeat this notice (only appears on other users' public notices)
Reposts the notice, with attribution, to your profile. This also brings the entire conversation to the top of any timeline in which it, as well as your notices, appears. For users who have threaded timelines disabled, it will duplicate the original notice to any timeline in which your posts appear.

Delete this notice (only appears on your notices)
Removes the notice from the site. Deleting a notice cannot be undone.

What are those buttons along the top of the page for?

Those allow you to access various useful pages around the site. In order, from left to right:

Personal timeline
Your own personal timeline, comprised of people and tags you've subscribed to, groups you are a member of, and conversations you participate in.

Drops down to a list of everything you follow: groups, lists, searches, and tags.

A list of replies by other users made to notices you've posted. Handy for keeping up with responses if your personal timeline is busy.

A list of notices you have favorited.

Private inbox
Your inbox, where you can receive and send private messages with people you have mutually subscribed to, as well as site staff.

Account settings
Allows you to adjust various settings that affect how you use the site. This is also the place to go to customize your profile.

Logs you out of the site.

What are these @, #, !, @# things?

Those represent the various methods of interacting through notices on the site. Use each one by typing it as you see it elsewhere. There is no hard limit on how many of each of these may be used in a single notice.

References another user on the site. Often seen at the front of a notice when replying to another user. (When creating replies, it is recommended to use the Reply button by each notice instead of manually inputting a username.) Notices containing a mention show up in the referenced user's Replies page. Clicking on one will open the referenced user's profile.

Often used as a method of categorization or description of a notice. These are used to link together notices with common topics, or in some cases as a warning (such as the #NSFW tag). Clicking on one will open a page containing other notices with the same tag.

A more structured method of categorization than tags. Groups require the user to be a member before posts can be sent to one. In addition, posts sent to groups can be marked as "private", meaning they are only visible to other members of any group tagged in the notice. Notices containing a group tag show up in the referenced group's timeline. (Note that they also show up on all other timelines where such a notice would otherwise show up, including the public timeline.) Notices from all groups you are a member of will show up in your Personal timeline. Clicking on a group tag will open the referenced group's page.

Note that as of December 2013, the preferred method of posting to a group is to use the "To:" dropdown selector to select the group to post to. This is the only way to post a private notice to a non-private group. Use of group tags is still supported, however, and is currently the only method of posting a notice to more than one group, or "grandfathering" a conversation into a group by tagging it in a reply.

References multiple users on the site. Lists are created by tagging other users on their profile pages (tags they've added themselves are not considered; tagging yourself is a method of adding yourself to one of your own lists, among other things). It is possible to subscribe to another user's list, which will cause posts from all users listed to appear on your Personal timeline. Notices containing a list tag appear in the Replies timelines of every user in the list. Clicking on a list tag will open the list's timeline, showing notices from all users in the list.

I prefer posts in a more linear, Twitter-esque format. How do I change it?

If you'd like notices to be displayed in a more linear fashion (where replies show up as their own posts, rather than being attached to the original posts), the Old-school settings page allows you to toggle that behavior. You can also switch conversation pages from a linear set of replies to a threaded system, which nests replies within their parent posts, there.

How do I find a member of site staff? How can I tell if someone is a staff member?

The Staff page has an up-to-date listing of staff members who enforce rules and maintain the site. There is no other external indicator that someone is a staff member.

The technical stuff

What is Rainbow Dash Network?

Rainbow Dash Network is a stream oriented social network service.

You can use it to write short notices about yourself, where you are, and what you're doing, and those notices will be sent to all your friends and fans.

You can also post event invitations, bookmarks, polls, and questions or other kinds of social broadcasts.

How is Rainbow Dash Network different from Twitter?

Like Twitter, Rainbow Dash Network is a light service with a stream-oriented interface. It uses @-replies, hashtags, provides search, and has private messages. It provides an API, and can be integrated with SMS systems. You can create lists.

Unlike Twitter, Rainbow Dash Network allows more data than just plain text and links to travel across the network. You can install the StatusNet software that runs Rainbow Dash Network on your own servers, since it's Free and Open Source software. You can make groups, and share privately with those groups.

You can make your site available only to people you choose. You can customize it with your own themes and plugins, or download plugins from the StatusNet site.

How is Rainbow Dash Network different from Yammer, SocialCast, or Salesforce Chatter?

Like some enterprise social software services, StatusNet lets you share privately with other people in your company. You can use microapps to post richer kinds of data, use public and private groups to share with team members, use extended profiles to show more about yourself and your company, and review groups and users in a directory.

Unlike those other services, StatusNet is free and open source software. You can install it on your own servers. You can customize the theme and add plugins.