A website that provides an online exchange of information between people about a particular topic. It provides a venue for questions and answers and may be monitored to keep the content appropriate. Also called a "discussion board" or "discussion group," an Internet forum is similar to an Internet newsgroup (see below), but uses the Web browser for access. Before the Web, text-only forums were common on bulletin boards and proprietary online services. However, Internet forums include all the extras people expect from the Web, including images, videos, downloads and links, sometimes functioning as a mini-portal on the topic.
Forums can be entirely anonymous or require registration with username and password. Messages may be displayed in chronological order of posting or in question-answer order where all related answers are displayed under the question (see message thread
Forums/Newsgroups vs. Chat Rooms
Forums are like Usenet "newsgroups," the original Internet discussion groups, and both systems keep postings online for some period of time. Users can scroll back in time and do not have to be logged in the moment they are posted. In contrast, chat rooms are interactive, real-time sessions, and users must be present to read them. See newsgroup
and chat room
Turn a Site into a Forum
There is a variety of forum creation software for the Web, typically written in Java, PHP, Perl or ASP. The software can be used to create forum-only sites or to add a discussion section to any Web page. See Google Groups