Internet forums are everywhere online. They are popular gathering places for people with similar interests. From gaming forums, to forums for discussions about politics, sports and hobbies, you are likely to find a place of interest for you.
However, if you are new to forums, these places can be a bit daunting. Will people be nice to you? Will they be interested in what you have to say? How do you join in?
First of all, don’t worry. If you are uncertain about joining in, the best way to start is to read the posting rules for that specific forum. That is always a wise thing to do, to avoid breaking any of the rules and to know what is expected of you. This will also help you decide if the place is for you.
After that, it’s a good idea to read up on the current topics. Not only will you learn about posters’ views, you will also learn how people behave towards the other, and about the manner of interaction between the various posters.
Once you feel somewhat confident about joining in, there are a few more things to keep in mind:
– Don’t post LIKE THIS. Making your entire post capitalised makes people feel like you are shouting at them, and it’s considered rude.
– Treat other people as you would like to be treated. That goes for forums as much as any other aspect of life. Be polite, kind and respectful of others and their views. You may not always agree with what another poster has to say, but try to avoid getting worked up about it. They are entitled to their views, just as much as you are entitled to yours.
– Along the same lines – If you do get into a debate, try not to make the disagreement personal. It’s their views, or a specific topic you are debating, not the other person. Personal attacks should never happen on forums, and they are commonly referred to as flaming. Flaming will not do your reputation any good.
– Don’t be too shy to join in on conversations. People tend to be very welcoming. It may look like everyone knows the other, and this can make a new poster feel somewhat excluded. But everyone was a new member at one point, and with a bit of time (usually not that long), you will be part of the group.
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If something is unclear to you, just ask. There will always be people willing to help out new members.
And last but not least – have fun! Internet forums are a place to relax and enjoy yourself.