Web-Discussion Forums
By: Skyler Richardson


Traditionally, there was no real way to converse with a wide range of audiences about a wide range of topics. The rise of web discussion forums in social media has allowed people to communicate with local people as well as people from across the nation or around the world!  Forum posts as a whole can serve many purposes such as arguing a controversial topic, receiving help on something the other users share in common (such as playing an online game or owners of a particular brand of car), or for a class you are enrolled in to discuss current events in correlation with the class (essentially a way to actively participate in an in-class discussion).  Forums are used by people of all ages for various different purposes.  People of the younger generation are more apt to use the forums to discuss a video game they play collectively than people of the older generation that will most likely use it to discuss current events (politics or economics for example).  Users of forums enjoy them because it allows you to have your own voice on an issue as well as hear other users’ voices.  When you want to post on forums, you should follow the following steps:

Step-by-Step Instructions

Societal Forum Post

1)      Pick a topic that you have an opinion on.

2)      Devise a “cool”, “catchy” title that will attract the attention of potential readers browsing the forums.

a.       Keep the title clear on what you are going to talk about, yet still mysterious.  (e.g. on a topic about the president, a title such as, “What will he do next??” would be ideal.  The reader doesn’t know what the thread is about; therefore, they will most likely open it out of curiosity.

3)      On opinion threads, clearly state your opinion along with evidence (why others should believe the same thing as you).

4)      On opinion threads, acknowledge opposition and their views so the reader knows you have done your research (this strongly) boosts your credibility as a forum poster.

5)      On all forums, treat others as you wish to be treated.  If you go around being crude to other users do not be surprised if the favor is returned later down the road.

6)      Finally, if users spend time to comment on your thread, you should acknowledge their participation and respond to their comments/questions as well.

Help Forum Post

1)      First off, check to make sure that the topic doesn’t already exist by using the “Search” feature on the forums – this makes sure you aren’t asking a question that has already been previously answered.  If a previous thread answers some of your questions, but not all the questions, it may be beneficial to reference this thread in your new post so readers are able to make the connection between what another user has asked versus what you ask.

2)      Make a title that will have sufficient information so people that can possibly help you be able to solve it for you.  (e.g.  If you are having troubles with your internet, your title could be, “troubles with Internet Explorer 7”, a title such as this one will make sure the reader knows exactly what your thread is about before reading it.

3)      In the very beginning of the post, state your problem as clearly as possible.  From your description, other people should a) be able to see your problem or b) replicate the problem themselves.

4)      Be nice in your post.  Keep a calm tone and attitude. Being offensive will turn good help away from your forum post.

5)      If a user helps you, acknowledge them for it.  Do not leave the users of that forum “hanging” if you have solved your problem.  Make a post thanking the users for their time and letting them know what fixed the problem so other users with the same problem can achieve the same outcome as you.


Terms to know

Administrator – This person/persons usually has full control and moderation capabilities of a board.  They are usually in charge of all facets of the board such as staffing, settings, creating new areas on the forums, etc.

Moderators – These people are the main rule enforcers.  Usually they are appointed by an administrator to help “moderate” discussions.  They have a number of tools at their expense such as the ability to make announcements, sticky post, edit posts, delete posts, lock posts, or ban users.

Sticky Post (“stickies”) – This post is generally an important post made by an administrator or moderator.  They can be guides on how to do something, or just a popular thread.

Announcement – These posts are usually made by administrators or moderators to make an announcement. 

“Troll” – These are usually people that post on forums with the sole intent to cause problems. 

Other Advice

-          Especially with controversial posts, you want to make sure to not “step” on other people’s beliefs.  Realize that not everyone has the same stance on an issue as you.

-          Try and stay directly to the point.  You may not want to write a novel unless you are on an academic forum.  On forums of general topics, long winded posts generally turn off users.

-          Make your post aesthetically appealing.  The technique for doing this:  Using pictures, multimedia (flash animations, video, formatting etc), space our you information instead of just making it one large block of text.

-          Read the board rules before you make your post.  This is probably one of the biggest turn offs for readers.  For example, a rule such as including your browser-type in the title of the thread (assuming this was a rule).  This could be a strong pet peeve for the other users that are to read your post.

-          Know who the administrators and moderators are for a number of reasons.  A) If you are approached by someone claiming to be an admin or mod, know how to know if they are legitimately an administrator or moderator.

-          Make sure you have read and understand all the announcements and “stickies” before posting (in case they pertain to the post you wish to make).

-          Ignore “trolls.”  Their main purpose is to cause drama to disrupt the peaceful nature of forums.  Ignoring them will defeat their purpose and goal of disrupting your posting experience.  If it becomes a major issue, contact a moderator or administrator.

-          Make sure you have posted your thread in the correct location.

Sample Forum Rules

- http://ezinearticles.com/?Sample-Online-Forum-Guidelines-and-Rules&id=437521

Example Forum Posts


- http://support.bluemangolearning.com/attachments/token/ditou2ysudkt7fc/?name=media_1284743344452.png

- http://www.smallbusinessmarketingcentre.co.uk/wp-content/post-images/Part1WebsiteVisibilityKillerStrategy5Get_10447/Good_forum_post_thumb.gif
A quick, to the point, fun video about ethics of posting.
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