In every field of interest, work, and education, there are always questions to be answered. Whether it’s a common question asked over and over by someone new to the area, an opinion question that could have lots of answers, or an in-depth, technical question only a very experienced person would be able to answer, there is usually someone willing to answer it. But how do you find these people? Or where can you go to share your knowledge on a particular subject with others? A forum is a perfect place to discover these things.
There are usually two types of forums. Some forums are just one page of a game, company, organization or project’s website. This type of forum is to ask questions about the website and what the website offers or represents. The questions that are asked on this forum are often directed to owners or developers of the website and are sometimes answered by frequent users or members of the website. Someone could use this forum to ask a question about a feature on another page that they don’t understand or that isn’t working properly. The website programmers or technicians can respond or be made aware of the technical issues on the site. On the other hand, forums of this type can also be used by the site owners to make announcements or ask questions of the user base. Check out Copper.net's forum here.
The other type of forum is not supplemental to the website, but the reason for the website. Some websites are created solely (or at least largely) for the purpose of hosting several forums on a subject of interest, like baseball, or a type of marketing. On these sites, there are usually a variety of forums on subtopics, making it easier to find questions asked on a certain element of the subject of interest. This is a great place to do some research. If you are new to a subject, you are likely to find frequently asked questions from the past to which you could benefit from reading the answers. If you don’t find a question that’s already been asked, you can add a new one of your own. This type of site is also a good place to brainstorm or share ideas with others who are experienced and interested in something you are. You can spend hours asking and answering questions on forums.
Although forums vary somewhat, they all contain some similar formatting. When you first enter a forum, you will see a list of questions you can click on to read and answer. At the top of this list, you will often find the stickies. These are the questions that people tend to ask over and over. They have already been answered and resolved, but they have been “stuck” to the top of the list so everyone will see them. This is to minimize the amount of people asking the exact same question that has already been discussed and answered in the past. You should read the stickies if you are new to a forum or the subject to keep from asking something that has already been asked dozens of times before.
The rest of the questions listed are open questions, usually listed newest to oldest in the time that they were posted. When you click on an open question, you will see the original question, and (if any) the responses from others to the question. As you scroll down the replies, you will probably notice these elements:
1. Replies: There will be both replies to the original question, and replies to other replies (if someone was to disagree or wished to expand on the response).
2. Quoted text: Usually in italics, this is a way for someone to respond to or expound on something that was already said.
3. User identification: Each individual reply has a screen name, photo, signature, possibly some links to other websites. This is a way for a user to represent themselves.
4. User rating. In order to know how experienced or reputable an answer is to your question, every user has some sort of rating that shows how long this member has been asking or answering questions. You may also see a rating of the person’s reputation that others have given them because they answered the question so well.
Forums are a great place to connect with others from all over the world about a common interest to gain insight, learn about new topics and techniques, or share your knowledge with others.
Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, Copper.net. Copper.net is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at www.copper.net! Check out my blog for more articles!