Forums – Day 1 – What is it?

by Kevin Jones on November 23, 2009

Week 3: Forums

(Being Thanksgiving week and because Forums are pretty simple and well known, today will be the week’s only post for the Challenge.  Now go enjoy your turkey.  And if you live outside the United States, go enjoy one anyway.)

Photo by victoriapechham on Flickr

Photo by victoriapechham on Flickr

Forums have been around for a very l0ng time.  They are mostly used in a ‘question-answer’ scenario.  One person may ask, but it isn’t like an email where the answerer is one person or a small group.  It is whomever has access to the question and can read it.


My clothes washer was leaking.  In order to skirt the Maytag repairman coming out, I went online and found a forum.  It not only led me to the problem, but let me to the solution which was detailed by multiple people, all adding their insights.  I followed the steps and solved the problem.  In the steps it said that one task would take two people.  I figured out how to do it by myself.  That is something that I can give back.

Why a forum?  Not only can multiple people answer, but, even more importantly, there very well may be more than one answer given the situation.  The different answers may have varied perspectives which will help you find the exact answer you are looking for.

Sure, when we have a question we can Google it.  And we can get back one expert’s opinion.  But we can also get back many others’ opinions.  Are they all experts?  Maybe, maybe not.  But most questions asked do not need an expert’s opinion – they may just require new perspectives.  Just having the question previously and either working out the solution or learning from others is enough to provide others the answer.  (I fully realize, of course, that there are some questions where only experts should answer.  Much medical advice jumps out at me as a topic for experts to answer.)

Do you have a question about:

Some forums are not strictly question-answer – they have evolved over time and are not quite called ‘forums’ anymore, but the principles are the same.  Some sites have already asked the question and ask for others to answer.  For example, this site asks the question “What are the best disc golf courses?”  Readers then rate and comment on each course.

I can’t tell you how many times my wife’s computer has freaked out with weird error messages I have never seen before.  I am NOT computer guru, but forums make me look like I am.  Searching for a specific error code or situation quickly yields the solution to my problem.  The results have been the same with error codes on my oven and other electronic devices.

When you are stuck and don’t know where to go, next time search for a forum.  Because they are usually sponsored by a company or a group of people, they tend on being the ‘experts.’  But you will also have the ‘wisdom of the crowds‘ to help find the answer you are looking for (or even one you weren’t!).

TO DO – Use a Forum (Difficulty Level: EASY – Time: 10- minutes)

  • Choose a subject in which you are knowledgeable.  Google that topic with the word ‘forum.’
  • Find an question you can answer and add your knowledge.  You may have to sign up for the forum, you may not.
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