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What Are Forums?

Bob Withers
May 26, 2008
Forums are one of the lesser-known marketing techniques that can increase traffic and sales on your website. Forums are an instrument used to communicate and collaborate with others. They are like social mixers, where everyone is on an equal level, socializing and discussing with others. You must be registered to post in forums and some of the forums are not seen unless you are logged in.

Internet forums are also commonly referred to as Web forums, message boards, discussion boards, electronic discussion groups, discussion forums, bulletin boards, or simply forums. Messages within sub-forums are displayed either in chronological order or as threaded discussions. Discussion forums are also referred to as "threaded discussion lists" or "bulletin boards".

Forums differ from chat rooms and instant messaging in that forum participants do not have to be online simultaneously to receive or send messages. Forum etiquette can vary on different forums and they have become a common feature on many websites. They can be "closed" or "open" in terms of membership.

"Closed" means an administrator decides who can participate, while "open" means anyone can sign on to the forum. Forum categories represent a collection of forums as well as other categories. They are the areas where individual discussions take place as a listing of topics. Posts are easy to search and to read through. You can find just the posts you want very easily.

One significant difference between forums and electronic mailing lists is that mailing lists automatically deliver new messages to the subscriber, while forums require the member to visit the website and check for new posts.

Because members may miss replies in threads they are interested in, many modern forums offer an "e-mail notification" feature, whereby members can choose to be notified of new posts in a thread, and web feeds that allow members to see a summary of the new posts using aggregator software. Client software aggregators are installed applications designed to collect Web feed subscriptions and group them together using a user friendly interface.

Users sometimes post versions of a message that are only slightly different, especially in forums where they aren't allowed to edit their earlier posts. Multiple posting instead of editing prior posts can artificially inflate a user's post count.

In many forums which have editing allowed they have rules asking people not to make multiple posts, and also use a common plug-in to merge double posts, without an administrator/moderator having to manually delete or merge the posts. You do have to Register for many features and functions such as E-Mail Digests, Notification of New Posts and/or Threads, Personal Messaging and downloading of Post Attachments for them to work.

As crazy as the forums are, it is a real community builder that I doubt will ever be replaced. In order for forums to disappear entirely you would need something just as effective to replace them. Forums are a place where users of all types come together to discuss issues, trivial or serious. They are just what the word means, a place to gather ideas from varying and differing points of view, and it's OK if not everyone agrees.
About the Author
Bob Withers is a professional sales and marketing person with over twenty years experience. He has also turned his sights on internet and affiliate marketing to apply his trade. If you want to get in touch with Bob please visit:
Free Home Business and Affiliate Marketing Advice
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