Forums; commonly referred to as message boards, discussion groups and bulletin boards. They are a web application for holding discussions and posting user generated content. If you need help or advice you can almost guarantee there will be a forum about the specific topic area where you will be able to contribute to the discussion and find out exactly what you need.
Forums are created and used for a number of different reasons. For example most bands and music artists that have a website will more than likely have a forum where fans will be able to discuss the recording artist and interact with other people who share the same interests. Forums can also be used by businesses as a way of showcasing their expertise in the hope of enticing new customers to their business. In this case the forum is used as a way of marketing; it sells the business and its service to members of the public and people can use forums such as this to find a business service that they need. Forums are free to use and anyone can use them.
There are a few forums still around that require no registration meaning that anyone can just go and post a message on it. However due to problems with spammers taking advantage of the fact these forums don't require registration, many of the forums that are built today are built so that in order to post you have to register. Registering on a forum merely takes a matter of minutes and by registering with a forum you have the option of choosing your own username and image, known as an avatar. You also get the option of writing your own signature, which appears directly under you post. Within this signature you can post links to sites and include pretty much any information that you want. Forums are modified by people known as administrators.
These administrators are usually people that have something to do with the building of the site or is someone who is employed by the site owner to do this particular job. Administrators modify the posts that are made, they can move, delete, and edit topics. They also have the power to shut the forum down as well as being able to delete, ban and create members. This is effective but also hard work, administrating a forum takes a lot of time, often more than the administrator is given.
Forums, like many places across the Internet, can sadly suffer from spam. Although the introduction of making registration compulsory across many forums has reduced and stopped some of the spam from getting through, spammer's have created what are known as spambots. These are programmed to be able to fill in a registration form on a forum and are programmed by the spammer to leave messages promoting the spammers service/product. Spambot's signatures on forums are always more than likely filled with links taking you to explicit or malicious content.
Forums can also suffer from individuals known as trolls. These individuals breach the rules of forums by posting derogatory messages about sensitive topics and often post links to 'shock sites' as well as placing images across the forums that other members may find disturbing. The positive aspects of forum use however greatly outweigh the few negative aspects that we can see through spambots and trolls. Forums are a great resource on the Internet and will continue to be in the future.
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