Word ‘forum’ comes from Latin. In Roman Empire forum meant a public square or marketplace that was the assembly place for judicial activity and public business.
Dictionary defines forum as public meeting place for open discussion.
When they started internet forums had the same objective-discussion on various topics.
But soon they become a good marketing channels. It is true that a place where crowd gathers would sooner or later become a marketplace.
Web forums, message boards, discussion boards, discussion groups, discussion forums, bulletin boards are the synonyms that are often used for forums.
By definition, internet forum is a web based application that is used for holding discussion on user generated content.
Forums are not a new thing to web. Since basic objective of web was communication, forums came into existence quite early. Earlier forums had simple structure and functionality.
From historical point of view, forums have become quite evolved.
Because forum users often visit the forum regularly, discuss matters, they get to know each other and sense of community develops.
A forum would typically consist of forum administrator(s), moderators and users who are also called members. A forum is generally divided into several sub forums. Depending upon the access granted a user may use all or few of them.
When you go to a forum, you would need to open an account which is usually free. A few forums however have paid access. So you would need to check.
After you register, you become a registered member of the forum and allowed to post content and ask questions if you need to.
A forum is a community indeed. You would find different level of users. There would be newbies and there would be old guns who are generally very much respected in the community.
A forum administrator is the top in the ladder. Forum administrator typically has the power to edit, delete, move or modify any thread on the forum, change major software items, change global skins, modify the board, and ban, delete, or create members.
Moderators have few of these powers including editing, deleting, and moving threads, mass pruning, warning members for offences, and changing minor forum details. Usually there are more than one moderators who are chosen from the users.
Forums are present all over the net and almost in each niche. You can search for the list of forums in your niche in your favorite search engine.
Each forum has its own set of rules and guidelines which you need to abide by when you use that forum.
It is good step to join a forum. you would find answer to the problems you face and would build a rapport with your fellow members.
This in long run would prove quite productive for your business.