Why Host Your Own Forum or Message Board?
Whether you call your discussion page a forum, message board or bulletin board they can all help your group communicate. Forums are a perfect low priced way to keep family and friends in touch, get likeminded people together, explore ideas, serve customers and add interactivity to your personal or corporate webpage.
After just spending a few minutes online you will notice many types of forums and message boards. Here are a few popular and effective uses of forum services:
Customer Education – Forums are an inexpensive way for companies to educate customers about how to use their product. A message board is good place for sharing company news and product innovations.
Customer Support – Company moderated forums are often used for technical support. Forum topics can be divided into popular help topics and can easily be searched by customers seeking assistance. Forums are also often used for customers to share tips, frustrations or suggestions.
Networking – Forums are often used to get together a group of likeminded people. Message boards can be found that center around nearly every topic, from bird watching to Macs to the Xbox. Members can discuss topics, share tips, send instant messages and emails, and create profiles.
Keeping in Touch with Family and Friends – Message boards are perfect for sharing family news and keeping friends up–to–date. These types of boards can even be password protected so only approved members can read and post messages.
What to Look For in a Forum or Message Board Service
Most forums use similar or the same software, so many forums provide a similar user interface and posting abilities. So the two things that really make a forum service stand apart are security and support. The best forum services provide excellent security that blocks spam posting and protects member information. Top services also provide responsive and helpful customer support.
Below are the criteria WebCreator used to evaluate forum and message board services:
Given that many forum services use comparable software, the hosting features they offer set them apart. Some services allow message boards to be hosted on any site, whereas others host on their server, which means the forum owner does not benefit from the content in terms of the search engines. The top forums support an advanced level of flexibility, offer hosting options and are ad free.
This is the technology available to contributors for posting messages. All forums include a text editor and most support the uploading of files, images and avatars. Numerous services also offer social networking features like buddy lists, private messaging and emailing.
Administration tools are the features available to the forum owner, manager or moderator, which may include edit and deletion ability, thread locking and pin threading. Some services also include traffic monitors and syndication tools. The best bulletin board services also provide filtering tools.
Protection/ Security Features
This is possibly the most vital consideration when choosing a forum. Disappointingly, spam attacks are tremendously common and can render a forum ineffective and unappealing fast. The best forum and message board services protect forums from spam posts, spam flooding and email address grabs.
Although most forum services are inexpensive or free, they should still include sufficient support. The top services provide support by telephone, email and/or chat. They ought to also offer online help through FAQs, a searchable knowledgebase and a support forum.
See the tutorial on how to create a forum for free.