A discussion board, also known as a discussion group, discussion forum, message board, or online forum, is an online bulletin board where people can leave messages and expect to see replies. It is different from a chat room in that messages usually have more than one line of text and are archived at least temporarily. Depending on the user's access level or forum settings, a moderator may need to approve a posted message before it becomes publicly visible. A forum is a website that provides an online exchange of information between people on a particular topic.
It provides a space for questions and answers and can be monitored to maintain appropriate content. Before the Web, text-only forums were common on bulletin boards and proprietary online services. However, Internet forums include all the extras that people expect from the Web, such as images, videos, downloads and links, and sometimes work as a mini-portal on the subject. Forums are one of the reasons why the Internet is so big; they act as centralized locations for discussing topics, similar to BBS and Usenet, but on a much larger scale and in more specialized ways. Each forum has limits on the height, width and size of the avatar data that can be used; if the user tries to use an avatar that is too large, it can be reduced or rejected.
Back then, an online diary was a place where people could write about their daily lives, recounting various events and reflecting on what occurred to them that day. For example, in an IT forum, any discussion on any topic other than computer programming languages can go against the rules, with the exception of a general chat section. Forum spam is a violation of netiquette in which users repeat the same word or phrase over and over again, but differs from multiple posts in that spam is usually a deliberate act that sometimes has malicious intent. Unlike a forum, which is located on a main server run by a specific administrative team, Usenet is distributed on many servers on a peer-to-peer basis. Within the topic of a forum, each new discussion that starts is called a thread and can be answered by as many people as they want. For example, the BusinessWeek Online website included a forum section that allowed users to discuss investment topics, magazine topics, technology trends and professional issues.
Messages posted to a forum are publicly available for some time, even if the forum or thread is closed, which is rare in chat rooms that are frequently active. As the number of Internet users is expected to continue to increase, discussion forums are likely to continue to be a popular channel for Internet communication. These forums also used to have a set of rules that discouraged the use of malicious or inappropriate language and reserved the right to block any user who abused the forum. Forum trolls are users who repeatedly and deliberately violate the netiquette of an established online community, posting inflammatory, alien or off-topic messages to incite or encourage users to respond to or test forum rules and policies and with it, the patience of forum staff. Similarly, most forums allow users to define a signature (sometimes called a signature), which is a block of text possibly with BBCode that appears at the end of all user posts. Online discussion forums emerged in the mid-1990s and allowed Internet users to post messages on the Web and reply to them.
Available on the company's website, the index divided the forums into topics such as entertainment or gardening and listed recommended discussion forums for those topics.