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By Sharon Housley
The Internet has become a highly interactive
medium. In order to participate in discussion forums
and newsgroups, it is important to be familiar with
standard and accepted Internet forum etiquette. Here
are some tips to help make your forum participation
more productive and beneficial...
Read the forum rules and terms-of-service
before you begin posting. This way, you can avoid having
your "introduction" to the forum being an accidental
breaking of a rule or other misconduct.
2. Worthy Comments
Don't simply post "I agree" in response
to something already posted. If you are going to participate,
make the effort to add something extra to the conversation.
Provide details, and know what you are talking about.
Other participants will welcome posts that contain additional
and valuable information.
If you participate in a conversation,
make an effort to follow the conversation through. If
you don't plan to monitor the group regularly, try to
use an email notification feature if available, or subscribe
to an RSS feed of the group. It will seem rude if someone
asks a question about something you posted, and you
are not around to respond with an answer. Follow any
threads that you have posted to.
Include a signature on all your posts.
If you include links in your signature, take advantage
of controlling the anchor text for those links. This
is particularly important in forums that provide "dofollow"
links. This will help your overall search marketing
5. Avoid Spam
Participants will not welcome forum spam.
Provide valuable, respectful comments, and avoid the
temptation to post blatant commercial messages that
simply hype and promote your products and services.
6. Post In The Proper Forums
Most discussion groups are organized by
specific topics or subjects, so make the effort to post
in the forum most appropriate for your subject. Moderators
may become frustrated if you consistently open threads
in the wrong forum. If you are unsure of where a certain
topic might belong, contact the forum moderator and
ask which forum would be most appropriate.
7. Apologize For Mistakes
If a post is perceived as spam and deleted,
or posted in the wrong forum and moved, you should apologize
to the moderator right away. Believe it or not, an apology
for an accidental inappropriate post can go a long way
in getting back into the moderator's good graces.
8. Regular Participation
Try to post in forums on a regular basis.
Create a routine for the forums you monitor, so that
participation is regular and routine instead of sporadic
9. Proper Grammar And Punctuation
Forums are not nearly the same as instant
messaging systems! It is important that forum messages
contain proper capitalization, spelling, grammar, and
10. Understand The Culture
Understand the culture of the forum before
you begin posting. It is often best to observe the forum
for a short while, in order to gain an understanding
of the forums unwritten rules, and what the community
will allow and not allow.
11. Humor Does Not Always Translate
Keep in mind that, like email, forums
are a flat medium, and communication can often be misconstrued.
Humor may not always go over well because it may not
be understood, or even be clear that it is humor. Forums
often have an international audience, and you will not
want to alienate fellow posters by posting something
that may be funny to you, but insulting or indecent
in another culture.
12. Avoid Sensitive Subjects
If you are posting in a professional
business forum, avoid subjects that are controversial.
The Internet is global in scope, and there will likely
be forum participants that have a differing view point
or perspective than yours. Stick to safe subjects, so
that your personal opinions on controversial or sensitive
subjects don't alienate your potential customers.
Forum participation can help establish
you within an industry. Follow the above guidelines
to make the most of your forum participation.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds
and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for
audio recording and editing software.
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