The usefulness of online forums

As I have said before, the internet brings the world to our doorsteps. It has made it much easier to learn and share knowledge. It has made it much easier to connect and communicate with others. Online forums are platforms used to connect with people with similar interests and discuss topics. Topics on forums are usually categorised and the forums are usually moderated. As a blogger sometimes I use forums to crowd source answers to my questions. I also use forums to keep up with what is happening in the local and international tech space. I am also on a forum to give and get support with mental health.

Eforums was mentioned in the national ICT plan under headline targets as "50000 users participate in eForums moderated by Government". I tried several times to find out when we are going to see this eforum but got no responses. In a previous blog post I stated, we can develop an open forum platform where persons can share problems and then persons can offer solutions. Problems and solutions can be voted on. The platform can be incentivised to encourage participation.

Most forums have moderation and rules just like we would in real life. Generally we should be kind and respectful and thoughtful. We want to add value to the discussions and the online community. At the same time we have to balance this with a live and let live approach to avoid conflict and confrontation and keep it peaceful. Through forums you learn how to get along with others. Sometimes the rules are ridiculous. For example the Trinidad and Tobago reddit group does not allow me to share my blog posts because it is considered self promotion. I left that reddit group and created my own.

Forums can be safe spaces for persons. Also you can choose to be anonymous. Through online forums we can share personal experiences with others and get different perspectives that can broaden our understanding. Online forums provide for community building and support and encouragement. We can network with others. Online forums are convenient and accessible 24 hours and 7 days a week. They are cost effective to set up. Online forums can bridge cultural and geographical barriers. They are accessible to the differently abled and others who may find it difficult to attend in person events. We can improve our communication skills. Many forums are open to search engine indexing which can help others searching for answers.

You can start your own forum. One of the best platforms I have come across is Discourse. I find it has useful features, easy to use and mobile friendly. Keep in mind that info online and on forums may not always be accurate so you always have to do due diligence.


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