Last week we had an initial look at the fascinating world of online forums. Now we will explore how they work in a bit more depth.
In short, forums are places where people come together to talk about their passions. You can find them by doing a google search or looking for links from related articles. Once you find them, make sure it is a community of people you want to be a part of by reading existing posts. If you’re now ready to get started, read this first!
Forums are communities, much like Facebook groups for example. Behavioural expectations have evolved, for good reason – and these tend to apply fairly broadly to all forums.
- Don’t replicate another post. Use the search function to check and see if someone has asked the same question or if there is a thread already addressing your topic. If there is but you’d like more information, post in that thread to bring it back to the top.
- Don’t post new questions in an old thread.. On help forums, this is confusing to the people trying to help and will likely result in your question not being answered. In hobby forums, this is hijacking someone else’s thread and is considered rude. (Also, you might not get your topic addressed.)
- Read and follow the rules and etiquette of the board. Each one tends to have advice along with its user policies, such as rules about self-promotion – these will help keep your foot from your mouth.
- Post in the relevant board. If you want to share a picture of your kitten, you should not be posting on a board about giraffes. Find the kitten board and post your photo there. Everyone will be much more appreciative.
- If you are starting a new thread on a board, use a meaningful title. Rather than titling your new thread, “Wine question,” title it, “Which grape varietal should I use – Tempranillo or Merlot?” A more general title is likely to get fewer responses because people will not recognize it as relevant to their knowledge.
- Make your posts easy to access. Don’t create a huge signature, like an image or gif and don’t put large attachments into your posts. If you need people to access a large file, put in a link that points them to the file.
- When you are responding to someone, only quote as much text as you need to make your point. Rather than quoting the whole post, just pull out the relevant section. Most of the time, people will have read the original post once and don’t need to re-read the whole thing.
That seems like a lot of rules, but really it is common sense and common courtesy, the Golden Rule. All of this boils down to: don’t be rude. If you make a mistake, say sorry and try not to repeat it. Everyone has been the new person at some point and people will forgive an honest mistake.
Now that we’re covered the basics of what to post, let’s talk about how to create a new post.
First, you’ll need to register. Find the “log in” or “register” button. They are usually located at the top of the page. Create a username and password. Remember these, you’ll need them every time you return to this website. Now that you are logged in, you can start posting.
Click on a board that interests you and scroll through the threads. When you find one exciting, click into it. Once you have read the conversation and know what you want to say, click the “post reply” button. You will get a text window to type your response. Write your response and then pause and re-read it. Many errors and embarrassments can be caught by a quick re-read. Click “post” and you’ve created your first post!
If you want to quote another member’s post, click the “quote” button directly below their post. This should automatically open a text box that looks just like the “post reply” box, except it has their post already written in it. Go through and delete the irrelevant parts of the previous post. If you can see text around the post, don’t change that. It is what will make the text appear as a quote in your post. Type your response and click “post.”
If you’ve read through the currently active posts and done a search for a certain topic, but you still don’t see something about what you want to talk about, it’s time to start a new thread. From the main board, look for a “New Thread” button. These are usually located at the top on either the right or left corner of the list of threads. Click “New Thread.”
Type your relevant and specific title into the title bar. Type your message or question into the text area then click “post.” Congratulations, you’ve just created your first thread. Many forums have a monitoring system that will alert you when other people comment on your thread. This can be useful if you want to know about responses, or it can be annoying if you don’t want to get constant updates. You can turn this feature off and on in the settings menu.
Now, go forth and ask the internet your questions. Enjoy the hobbyist’s dream.
Guest post: G. Gadea
Costa Connected, for Costa Blanca News, March 27th 2015
Casslar Consulting SL