How to Use an Internet Forum

by Alicia Bodine

Internet forums are full of real people talking about real issues. They are a great place to go to find people who are interested in the same things you are. Forums in general do two basic things: they give you a place to learn more about the subject you are interested in, and they give you a place to help others who have questions that you know the answers to. Read this article to learn exactly how to use an Internet forum.

Internet Forums

The first thing you want to do is find a forum that peeks your interest. This is very easy to do since there are probably thousands of forums created for everything known under the sun. Go to your favorite search engine and type in "[your interest] forum." For example, you might type in "cat lovers forum." When you click "Enter" you are going to have plenty of forums to chose from.

Once you pick a forum you will need to sign up to be a participant for that forum. Most forums will ask you to create a user name and a password. Your user name can be anything you want and can contain letters or numbers. Have fun with it and try to be creative. You will also need to give your email address when you sign up, since you'll then receive a welcome email from the forum moderator that will include further instructions on joining the forum.

Go back to your email account and click on the forum's verification link. You will then be able to log in with the username and password you created. Once you log in you can begin posting, but it's recommend you set up a profile first.

Setting up a profile is pretty self explanatory. You can reveal as little or as much as you want about yourself. Limit revealing personal information, however, for safety reasons. The signature is where you can type a favorite saying or website that others will see every time you make a post. This is beneficial to anyone who is in business, because that is one way they can advertise their links and bring in traffic. If you don't have a website, you can always put the address to your MySpace page or favorite networking site.

Take some time to read the posts created by the more experienced forum members to get an idea of what that particular forum is all about. Feel free to answer any questions that you may know the answer too. To answer another member's question you will need to click the button at the bottom that says "reply to this post". Almost every forum has a welcome folder where you can introduce yourself. Make sure when you go there that you share a little bit about yourself so that others will remember you and you can begin to build relationships with them. Again, you don't have to share personal information.

Ask your burning questions. There should be a little button on the top right hand corner that says "new topic." Click on that and put your question in the subject line. If you are on a cat lovers forum, for example, you might ask, "How do I safely clip my kittens toe nails?" Then in the body you'd go in to a little bit more detail. Within hours you should have a few replies that answer your question.

Finally, all you need to learn is how to use the PM button. PM stands for "Private Message." Sometimes you may need to contact a person on the forum without letting the rest of the world see what you want to say. Save this feature for private chats that others on the forum would not want to participate in.

Tips

  • check The more you participate, the better chance you have of developing friends who recognize your user name. Because of this, try to use the same user name on each forum. You can create different passwords if you like for safety, but keep your user name the same.
  • check Try to visit the forum daily, but if you can't at least keep in touch once per week.
  • check Signing up and participating in 5 to 10 forums is normal. Any more than that and you might start getting confused.

Warnings

  • close Keep all your posts on topic or they will be deleted as SPAM. You don't want to start off with a reputation as a Spammer.
  • close Don't share personal details with others, such as home address, social security number, phone number, etc. That is for your own safety.

Items you will need

About the Author

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for six years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Associated Content and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the current cooking guru for LifeTips. She has received awards for being a top content producer.