Online internet forum is a kind of discussion board where interested users can discuss about any related topic. Generally, these online forums cover particular categories, though there are forums to express opinions without limitations. Forum administrator groups users into various categories and define different set of rules for each set of user group.
Structure of a Forum Site
Forum is a structured bulletin board both for the content as well as the users. Users with appropriate access rights can post their opinions on specific topic.
- Forum is categorized into many categories and each category can have many sub-forums.
- Sub-forums can also have additional sub-forum.
- Threads or topics are the place where members can post their content.
- Display of the threads can be customized to show it as a nested posts showing reply to reply or just a plain posts starting from the latest to the oldest.
- Post is the last element but these are essentially the content of the forum. Users can express their thoughts in a editor and post it on a thread. Normally post shows all the relevant details of the user who posted it so that the forum members can directly contact the user.
Below is an example structure of a typical online forum site containing different elements.
Registered and Unregistered Users
Normally unregistered users will not be able to post in the forum and only able to view the content. In order to post and participate in the discussion, you have to register by confirming your email address. Nowadays, most of the online forums set limitation for posting with hyperlinks. This is to avoid spamming with irrelevant links and you can overcome the limit by reaching certain time after being active member. On some forums, you can post hyperlinks only after posting certain number of posts or after getting certain ratings from other users.
User Group Classification in Forum
The biggest advantage of forum is the control on the user’s ability to do actions according to their user groups.
- User groups are created like Administrator, Moderator, Registered users and Guests. Registered users can be further classified into premium user and free user as per the willingness of the forum owner.
- Privileges are defined to each user groups, for example a guest user can only display the threads and will not be able to post his content on the forum.
- Each user is classified into one of the user group and auto controlled by the privileges of that group.
- Same person can take multiple responsibility in a forum and a sample responsibility chart is as shown below:
Creating a Forum Site
There are multiple ways to create a forum site for your purpose. Using WordPress content management system with bbPress plugin is one of the simple ways. However, the plugin is super simple that many features are not available. Otherwise, you can try one of the following forum software to install forum on your domain:
- Simple Machines Forum
- Vanilla Forums
Related: Comparison of phpBB Vs bbPress forum.
Here is an image of a sample phpBB forum. You can check out the live demo on phpBB official website.