Online Forums – How to use an online forum
Online forums (also known as online discussion sites, message boards, newsgroups, and Internet forums) are powerful tools for sharing information. Their use has become ubiquitous and widespread. Many people use discussion sites on a daily basis, whether it is to gain knowledge, share ideas, or simply to feel part of a community.
Why use online forums?
* communicate with other like-minded people who have the same or similar interests
* exchange of intellectual ideas and thoughts
* offer your opinion or advice
* submit material for others to consider and provide feedback, such as your website, business ideas or questions
* discover new opinions and ideas
* keep up with the latest news and trends
* meet new friends and potential clients
Participating in forums is another way to keep in touch with people belonging to the same community and keep up with the latest happenings. This is a place to express your opinion, be heard and discover the thoughts of others.
This social media can become addictive. For some, online forums provide a refuge; a place to escape the everyday and indulge in the aura of community. Forum use is certainly a problem for employers due to reduced productivity and procrastination on the part of participating users. However, most of us are grateful for their existence.
How to use online forums:
Starting an online forum can seem intimidating at first. There is information, posts, and topics flowing throughout the home page in what seems like an ad hoc manner. Sometimes the initial reaction of first-time users is to put discussion sites in the too-hard basket. Here is an easy step by step guide to use online discussions:
* Registration. Most discussion boards require you to become a member by signing up or registering to post. You will invariably be required to provide a username (your nickname), a password and an email address. The Forum will also require your agreement to its terms and conditions.
* Validation. After registering on an internet forum, you will need to verify your email by following the validation link emailed to you by the site.
* Rules. Familiarize yourself with the rules and netiquette required by the forum. In general, spamming, double posting and registering multiple user accounts is prohibited. Try to stick to it to avoid being called a troll for unintentionally breaking the rules.
* Publishing. The forum has predefined topics (called topics). Members can post messages or comments (called posts) in these threads. The message will be enclosed in a field with the username, time and date notified to the left or at the top of the post. Members are usually allowed to edit or delete their own posts. Many online forums limit posts to a certain number of characters.
* Threads. A thread (topic) is started by a post. Other members can then follow the conversation started by the original post (sometimes called the thread leader). Sometimes replies and comments can be derailed. Protector usually displays posts in reverse chronological order (first to current). The abbreviation OP often refers to the original poster. Some message boards allow you to customize the view to start with the initial post. They can also have a thread view that shows the branching of responses by priority in chronological order.
* Moderation. Moderators monitor and enforce message board rules. They can have access to all posts and threads or only those in their area of responsibility. Mods have the power to delete a post and ban and suspend members who violate discussion site policy. The moderator is usually a friend of the site owner. Among other responsibilities, they also help members in need and respond to complaints.
If you are new to online forums, try starting with some smaller message boards. Smaller sites still have that community feel and are more than happy to welcome newbies. Once you get used to the way discussion websites work, you can join some of the larger expert message boards if you wish. Above all, don’t be afraid to speak your mind; that’s what forums are for.
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