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...

1. Terms-Of-Service

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

3. Notification

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.

4. Signature

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 strategy.

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 and

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

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
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition
Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll audio
recording and editing software.