An Internet forum is a discussion area on a website. Site members can post discussions and read and respond to posts from other forum members. A forum can be focused on almost any topic and a sense of an online community, or virtual community, tends to develop among forum members.
Internet forums allow members to respond to other people’s posts.
This type of forum may also be called a message board, discussion group, bulletin board, or web forum, but differs from a blog, the name of a web record, in that a blog is usually written by a user and is usually only allows other people’s responses to blog material. A forum usually allows all members to post and start new topics.
A login interface for an internet forum.
An Internet forum is also different from a chat room. Members of a chat room often chat or communicate at the same time, while members of a newsgroup post messages for others to read whenever they log on. Forums also tend to be more topic-focused than chat rooms.
Avatars can be used in an internet forum.
Before a potential member joins a group and posts for others, he or she is usually required to register. The potential member must generally agree to follow certain online rules, sometimes called netiquette, such as respecting other members and avoiding using profanity. When a member is approved by the admin or moderator, the member usually chooses their own username and password, although sometimes a password is provided. An avatar, photograph or image provided by the member may appear under the member’s username on each post.
Internet forums can provide useful feedback to people searching for a topic.
The separate conversations in a forum are called threads and are made up of posts written by members. Members can usually edit their own posts, start new topics, post in their choice of topics and edit their profiles. A profile usually lists optional information about each forum member, such as the city they are located in and their interests.
An Internet forum administrator or monitor can also participate in the forum. An administrator can usually modify topics, as well as move or delete topics if needed. He or she can also change software items on the forum. Moderators usually help the admin and monitor and guide the discussion to ensure forum rules are followed.
Web forum software packages are written in many different program languages, including Perl, PHP, ASP, and Java. Both text files and a database can be used for configuring and storing messages.
Some Internet forums are used as discussion forums where frustrations can be vented.