Chapter 9. Forums

Internet users like to feel they are part of a community of people with similar interests. A successful site should build a community of loyal visitors and be a place where they can discuss their favorite subjects, ask questions, and reply to others. Community members will return often to talk to other people with whom they've already shared messages, or to find comments and opinions about their interests. This chapter outlines some of the advantages of building such a virtual community, its goals, and the design and implementation of a new module for setting up and managing discussion boards.


User-to-user communication is important in many types of sites. For example, in a content site for pub enthusiasts, visitors to the site may want advice on the best way to brew their own beer, suggestions for good pubs in their area, to share comments on the last event they attended, and so on. Having contact with their peers is important so that they can ask questions and share their own knowledge. E-commerce sites have an added benefit of enabling users to review products online. Two ways to provide user-to-user communication are opinion polls and discussion boards. We've already looked at opinion polls in Chapter 7, and in this chapter we look at discussion boards, also known as forums. Visitors can browse the various messages in the forums, post their questions and topics, reply to other people's questions, and share ideas and tips. Forums act as a source of content, ...

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