The original definition of a forum was the public square that was used in an ancient Roman city for judicial activities and public business. Later it came to define a public meeting place that allowed open public discussion, which has been even more recently expanded to include an internet message board. There are forums or internet message boards now on almost every topic imaginable! Their purpose is to allow members to have conversations around various topics in the form of posted messages.
Podiatry Related Forums/Message Boards:
eTalk from Present Podiatry
Student Doctor Network
Foot Health Forum
Podiatry Forums (under spam attack, so no longer actually active)
Forum Features and Terminology:
Post: This is what the user submits as a message that is enclosed into a block that contains the user's details and the date and time it was posted.
Thread: This a collection of posts, usually displayed in order from the oldest to latest (it is also called a topic).
Private Message: PM for short; this is a message that is sent in private from a member of a forum or community to one or more other members using an internal messaging system for that community. They are generally only used for personal conversations.
Moderator: These are the users or members are granted additional access to the posts and threads of all members for the purpose of moderating discussions and also keeping the forum clean of spam and useless posts.
Admin: This is usually the owner and they have access to manage all the technical details required for running the site.
Troll: These are users that repeatedly and deliberately breach the rules of a forum by posting inflammatory, extraneous and or off-topic messages to bait other users into responding.
Sockpuppet: This is a term that refers to multiple fake personalities used by the same person. The analogy is that of a puppeteer holding up both hands and talking between both puppets simultaneously. Typically on a forum, the purpose of a sockpuppet is to agree with or debate another sockpuppet account belonging to the same person to reinforce the position in an argument. They are usually detected when a check is done of IP addresses. Here is an example from Podiatry Arena.
BBCode: This is code used on may forms to quote messages; add things like links and images; and to change font color and size.
Emoticon: An emoticon or smiley is a symbol that a commonly used in posted messages on forums to convey some form of emotional content.
Ignore: Some forums allow users to have an ignore list that allows them to hide the posts of other members whose messages that they do not want to that they do not want to see or have a problem with in the past.
Forum Rules and Policies: Most forums will have a list of rules and guidelines detailing the types of behavior that is expected by those that join the forum. Users have to agree to these when joining.
Anonymity and Forums:
Most forums usually allow users to post anonymously. Sometimes this is for very legitimate reason due to employment repercussions or shyness. However, some forum users are more likely to reply to messages and help users if they knew who they really were. It often comes down to personal preferences.
Freedom of Speech and Forums:
Forum owners and administrators have the right to remove any content they like from the site posted by users. It is their website and users generally agree to the rules when they join. Some disgruntled members or users like to claim that they have the right to post what ever they like under 'freedom of speech' provisions. The 'freedom of speech' principles only apply to protection from persecution by the government if you speak out about them, not to private forums!
Liabilities of Forum Owners and Administrators:
A number of lawsuits have been taken or threatened against forum owners over the content published on their websites claiming libel or defamation. The actual legal situation varies from country to country and so does the liability. Forum owners are generally treated as 'publishes' of content and not necessarily the originator of content under the law.
Podiatry listings at the Forum Finder (a forum directory).