What are online forums? Online forum as the name implies is nothing but a formal or informal discussion that is taking place amongst the users of the discussion board through the medium of a website over the internet. Technically speaking it is a web application that simulates the function of a discussion room in real life. The website thus generates real time user generated content. The participants in an online forum, through the medium of online discussion board express their concern about the subject or topic of the discussion. The people participating in the virtual discussion may form bonds around the subject of the discussion and thereby generate more evolved and generalized knowledge regarding the topic.

The participation in online forum is very easy. While some forums require users to get registered on the website prior to participation, other forums do not impose such restrictions. In particular the forums of United States allow anonymous users to participate in the discussion .The online forum has a unique glossary of terms whose understanding is very necessary prior to understanding the dynamics of the online forum .These terms are defined as follows:

Moderator: A moderator is a person or group of person who checks the quality and relevance of content posted on the forum. He may intervene in the discussion if the discussion is going astray. The onus lies on him to maintain the decorum and sanctity of virtual discussion board.

Posts: Post is the individual message that a user of online forum posts on the discussion board.

Thread: Thread is the group of posts related to a particular topic.

Administrator: An administrator provides the technical support for the smooth running of the discussion on the website. He configures the database, the online structure of the discussion board and other technical rules that improve the performance of the forum.

User group: The users of online forum are divided into groups based upon the topic, the user groups are assigned different privileges based upon their purpose and scope of participation in the discussion. For example an unregistered person viewing the post falls into the visitor or guest user group and he has restricted rights based upon the policy of the online forum.

There are certain rules that are called net etiquette, which have to be administered by the users of the online forum so that the content of the forum is well regulated. These rules include the check on the language, the restriction on spamming etc.