Internet forums are one of the oldest ways to publish content on the web. They are like blogs in many respects. If you like interacting with other internet users, you might enjoy joining a forum more than you enjoy blogging. These online gathering places let you publish your thoughts to an existing audience. The advantage is that the platform already exists and eager readers are looking for new content. Readers of forums are also much more likely to comment on posts because the primary focus of online forums is to facilitate discussion.
Before participating in an online forum, you should first read through previous posts. Every forum has a unique style, audience, and etiquette. Lurk behind the scenes for a few days without posting to get a feel for it. With your posts, try to adhere to the established style of the forum. Understand who the audience of each forum is and tailor your message to them.
Most forums cater to a specific niche audience. There are forums for almost any topic you can imagine. What topic are you most passionate about? Go to Google and search for “[topic] forum” (without quotes). For kicks, I searched for some forums on random topics:
- Air hockey: http://www.airhockeyworld.com/forums.asp
- Ayurveda: http://www.shareayurveda.com/
- College basketball: https://forums.rivals.com/forums/college-basketball-board.28/
- Web developers: http://www.webdeveloper.com/forum/
- Writing: https://www.writingforums.org/
- Optometry: https://forums.studentdoctor.net/categories/optometry-forums-od.128/
- Shakespeare: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theshakespeareforum/
- Solo travel: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12357-Solo_Travel.html
There are also a few large general discussion websites that you’ve probably already heard of. Reddit is a popular news aggregation and discussion site. Yahoo! Groups is one of the largest forums on the internet. Google Groups lets you create and take part in forums, and also has the old Usenet archives incorporated into it. Facebook Groups is a newer platform for online discussion groups. Quora is a question and answer forum. Wikipedia has a list of more popular forums at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Internet_forums.
Once you’ve established yourself on forums, regularly answer other people’s questions. Provoke discussion with thoughtful posts. Be as helpful to others as you can. There is an unspoken rule of internet karma on the discussion boards. The more useful you are, the more others will try to help you when you ask questions.
If you are helpful to people, they will want to find out more about you. Be sure to include links to your personal blog or social media feeds in your forum signature. That way people who want to know more about you can find your website.
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