A Web forum is a website or section of a website that allows visitors to communicate with each other by posting messages. Most forums allow anonymous visitors to view forum postings, but require you to create an account in order to post messages in the forum. When posting in a forum, you can create new topics (or "threads") or post replies within existing threads.
Web forums are available for all kinds of topics. Examples include software support, help for webmasters, and programming discussions. While lots of Web forums focus on IT topics, they are not limited to information technology. There are forums related to health, fitness, cars, houses, teaching, parenting, and thousands of other topics. Some forums are general, like a fitness forum, while others are more specific, such as a forum for yoga instructors.
Since Web forums are comprised of user-generated content (UGC), they continue to grow as long as users visit the site and post messages. The webmaster of a Web forum simply needs to manage the forum, which may require moving, combining, and archiving threads. It may also involve monitoring postings and removing ones that are inappropriate. While this can be a large task for popular forums, most forum software, like vBulletin and phpBB, can filter out inappropriate content.
Because Web forums are constantly growing, they have become a large part of the Web. In fact, if you search for help on a certain topic, there is a good chance one or more forum pages will appear in the top results. After all, if you have a question about something, odds are you're not the only one. You can use forums to glean knowledge from others who have shared your questions in the past. Conversely, you can help others by sharing your ideas and answers in an online forum.
NOTE: Web forums are also called Internet forums, discussion boards, and online bulletin boards.
Updated: February 17, 2011