A forum is a web site (or a portion of a web site) maintained by the site owner, in which visitors are invited to discuss topics related to the site's purpose.
Forums are often used, for example, for product support. Users of the product are invited to form a community that discusses use of the product. One community member asks a question and others respond with answers or with follow-up questions.
Each entry in the discussion is known as a "post" or an "append." The sequence of posts relating to a particular question is known as a "thread." Submitting the initial post in a thread is known as "starting a thread."
Some threads develop around posts that are not questions; the initiator may state an opinion that others respond to or write an explanation of a particular subject, and others may join the discussion to give their own perspective on the topic or ask follow-up questions.
The maintainer of the forum is known as the "Forum Owner" or "Forum Master." The forum Owner may choose to divide the forum into sections, each devoted to a sub-topic of the general topic the forum is dedicated to.
Sometimes sections of the forum are maintained by a person known as the "moderator," a person appointed by the forum owner who is responsible to oversee the forum activities and, in some forums, approve posts before they are published.
Moderation is typical of most forums, but the degree of control by the moderator varies.
The Forum Owner chooses who is allowed to view the forum and, usually separately, who is allowed to participate in the forum discussions. These may be tightly or loosely controlled, depending on the purposes of the forum.
There are many forum management programs available, some free and open-sourced. Others for sale. Among the most popular free programs is phpBB (http://phpbb.net).
Forum Marketing is the process of using posts in forums for inviting prospects to investigate products or services for sale.