An Internet Forum is the modern descendant of the bulletin board systems which were widespread in the 1980s and 1990s and existing Usenet news systems. They exist as part of a website and invite users to start topics and discuss issues with one another.
Typically, common Internet Forum software will allow the webmaster to define several forums (also known as boards) which act as containers for topics (also known as threads) started by users. Other users can post replies to topics and start new topics as they wish. Certain users will become moderatorss - acquiring special privileges to move topics to other forums, delete posts and topics or edit posts in order to keep the peace and uphold the rules set out by the webmaster. Who exactly will become a moderator is decided by the webmaster or by some kind of pseudorandom process possibly combined with meta moderation such as that used on the popular Slashdot site. Many different moderation systems exist and webmasters are free to choose rules for their own forums.
Internet Forums are divided between those requiring registration (where users choose a Pseudonym, password and provide their e-mail address in advance) and those which allow anyone to post anonymously.
A forum can be flat - meaning that each reply within a certain topic is listed in chronological order, and threaded where each post descends from a parent post. Sites often provide several different views which combine aspects of both flat and threaded modes.
Many Internet Forum software packages are available, usually written in PHP, Perl or Java and running as a CGI or Java Servlet, backended by a SQL database or a series of text files. Each provides different features, the most basic allowing text mode only posting, the most advanced allowing users to insert multimedia elements and formatting in to their posts using HTML or BBCode. Packages are often integrated with Web logs or news posting scripts (such as PHP-Nuke) to allow people to post comments on articles or entries.
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2 List of popular Internet forum providers
3 External link