Forums and Internet portals are an online discussion areas where you can post and read messages from other users with similar interests, usually in an organized thread layout. Many Web sites today also build communities around their site by offering discussion forums where users can post messages, reply and discuss specific topics or simply introduce themselves to other forum members. These online communication spaces are frequently called online forums, discussion forums or just forums.
An important term that you should be aware of and know about is "netiquette". This term is a contraction of Internet etiquette, and it's really the etiquette guidelines for posting messages to online services. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions (i.e., avoiding flames or flaming others within the portal), but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. In most cases, netiquette is enforced by the forum administrator. One of the biggest issues facing those unfamiliar with using online forums is that they may not even be aware of what constitutes netiquette. To get you started with using online forums here are some tips to get you started and keep you from being banned on forums;
- Do Stay On Topic. Many people use forums for knowledge gathering as well as social interactions. Forum posts and threads can be read by hundreds or thousands of users, and as such it's important to read the topic of a particular discussion and keep your posts related to that topic. If you are looking for general chat and comments, look in the forums for an off-topic discussion area.
- Don't Be A Troll. A "troll" is a person who breaks netiquette on a regular basis by posted inflammatory messages (called a flame) when responding to other users in the forums. Trolls are also users who will find older flame-filled threads on a forum and reply to them just to get users worked up again.
- Do Turn That Caps Lock Key Off. When you type a post in all capital letters you are going to annoy other forum users. Capital letters are viewed as shouting when communicating online, and its considered rude to do.
- Don't Double Post. When using Internet forums it annoys other users when you post the same message more than once, in more than on discussion thread. If you make a post and no one replies, then leave it at that. Reposting the same message or slightly edited versions of the same message will not earn you any respect from other forum users, and in fact it may earn you warnings from the moderator.
- Do Search Before Posting. Before posting a question or asking for help on a particular topic, do use the forum search option to make sure this question has not already been asked and answered by other users. Even if your question does not appear in the thread list, it may still be available as an archived topic in the forum.