5 Steps to Get Going in Web Forums

In the huge world of forums, your 1st step is to select one which not only interests you but also one in which you would feel comfortable to ask a question or to provide an answer.  Your 2nd step is to register on that community.

Most forums will allow you to read the message content without the need to register.  This can be very handy if you are searching for the right forum to post your question; however, if you wish to post a new question or share some of your knowledge with others, a registration process is required in most cases. This should be a very short and easy process.

As with any type of online interaction, your first priority is to preserve your privacy. The suggestions below will aid in keeping your personal information private and will also guide you in getting off to a good start.

Read the Terms of Service and User Guidelines. This will only take a few minutes and will inform you of what can and cannot be posted along with other ground rules for participating. These are the same guidelines that the moderation staff will use when checking that your message complies with the community standards.

When you register, you will be agreeing electronically to abide by these guidelines, so you might as well read them now.

  • When registering, you will probably be asked for your name and email address (some sites may require more personal information). This is a good time to check the Privacy Policy to be sure your information will not be sold or distributed to a third party.
  • During the registration process, you will be asked to provide a Screen Name – the name by which you will be known on the forums and which will be attached to any questions or comments you post.
  • Choose a Screen Name which does not reveal any personal information about you; avoid using your first and last name. Do not select a Screen Name which would violate the Terms of Service, which could be considered profanity or which promotes an agenda. For example the Screen Name: “ABCwirelessSucks” may not be appropriate and will probably be changed by the moderator. Such names tend to lesson your credibility as everyone knows you have some type of axe to grind.
  • To complete the registration process, some communities will send you a confirmation email to verify that you wanted to register and may also include a link to activate your new forum account. You should check your junk email folder or spam folder, just in case the confirmation email is mis-classified.
  • After registering, log in and check your Personal Profile Page to be sure no identifiable information will be visible to the public. This may include, but is not limited to full name, home address, email address, phone number, etc. By default, most forums keep personal information fields private, but you should always double check what will be in public view.

Now you are ready to actively participate in the forums by posting a question or offering advice. Have fun, but be safe!