Featured Online Communities & Forums Article
How Do Online Communities and Forums Work?
Online community or forum is a group of individual who interact with each other using internet for educational, technical, social or other purposes. While in online community the users may remain relatively stranger with no bond between them in forums individual form a bond with their shared common interests.
Earlier, Yahoo groups and Google groups provided means to form communities and through chat rooms helped people to discuss topics based on common personal interest. But nowadays there are many social networking sites, blogs, wiki which have expanded the virtual communities further by each becoming a community on its own. Most of the online communities follow a similar life cycle wherein each participant starts off as an observer. After a while they become novice they start interacting in the community. After a certain period of time by constant participation they become a regular and later on a leader where his opinions are treated with greater respect and he provides more suggestions and ideas. After a long time the participant may decide to leave the community for varied reason like change of interest, busy schedule etc and hence he becomes an elder.
Forums are governed and maintained by group of individuals known as moderators or administrators. To become a member of forum usually person ahs to fill a registration form giving their personal details. Some forums allow user to remain anonymous .There are rules and policy to be followed for continuous participation in a forum. If forum policy is not adhered to there are several steps which are taken like issuing preliminary warning followed by short term ban and permanent ban, IP blocking if the offence is repeated.
The forum consists of a tree like directory structure with 'threads' with post within them at the lowest end. Thread is generally a topic around which the whole discussion is based. All members of the forum can participate in the thread by writing post which is nothing but participant's message in a block along with his details along with his participation history. All the member content is monitored by moderator who keeps the forum clean by deleting inappropriate content, manages it, provided topics for discussion, and provides answers to user queries related to forum or the topic concerned. The administrators deal with smooth running of the forums .Their responsibility can include promoting member to moderator(or vice versa),make forum rules and policies, maintain database or make decision regarding the appearance of the forum.
Online community or forum is most likely to succeed if they address the immediate real-world needs of its members and has topics which make it unique from others.