Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Online Forums, Part 2...Finding a Forum That Fits!

Okay, yesterday I told you why I leave forums.Today I will write about how I pick a forum!

I like participating in forums...really, I do! They are a fun way to learn, share, discuss, make friends,and network with others that have similar mindsets and goals.
First things first:
How To Find a Forum

Google is your friend. In the search bar, lets put in a topic that interests you....say you are real big on camping, primitive living and wilderness survival.
In the search bar, put Wilderness Survival Forums. I just did that and got 348,000 results! Many are duplicates, but there are many that I could check out if that was what I was looking for.
Check with friends...if they have a forum they enjoy, maybe you will enjoy it as well!
Invitations...there are some forums that are "by invitation only". I have been invited to a few and some were fine, others were not.

Assessing a Forum
Okay, you found a few forums that look interesting.What you need to do now is read, read, READ. Do not join just yet. Read recent posts, read older ones. You especially want to pay attention to posts from forum moderators and administrators. Do they swing the "ban hammer" too enthusiastically? Or do they allow insults, threats, excess profanity and flagrant violations of their own rules?
Look at the very bottom of the forum home page. They usually post the number of forum members and active members, i.e., those members that post on a regular basis...or at least within the last 6 months or year. I have seen forums with over 8,000 members BUT only 600 active members.That gives you a real clue right there.A forum with, say, 450 members and 350 active members is probably a better bet.
You really want to consider the size of the forum as well. The bigger the forum, the less likely that you will find any *friends* there, also there will probably not be much real information. Under 100 members and there won't be a lot, either.(Under 50 members...why don't ya just meet in a chat room?)
As you read, look for *cliques*. Frequently the *old timers* (long term members) of a forum band together and this can be frustrating for the new member. You may ask a question and be told "We talked about that last year, N00B! Search for it!" Or there may be opposing cliques that battle on threads and derail the topic.
Watch out for "Queen Bees" and "War Lords" on forums.
Like I said, read, read, READ!

Joining a Forum
Okay, you found a forum you like.
Follow the procedures to register and join. Some forums have a short waiting period and require you to respond to an email to complete registering.
Try to pick a forum name that shows a little personality. "Dave123" says nothing about you. "SwampDave" or " BeagleGuy" says a lot more!
Fill out your profile BEFORE you make your first post. You do not have to reveal everything about yourself...keep it simple! You may want to list your interests so that other members can find and connect with you. If you have valuable experience in areas that concern the forum, you may want to list those.
If the forum has an introductions thread POST your FIRST time there to introduce yourself. It's the polite thing to do, okay?

You can take it from there!

So, have fun and find an *internet home*!

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Because of a couple of rude people that left comments that included links to porn pages and such, I have been forced to start moderating comments again.