Blogs and forums

We all know the internet is a great resource with a wealth of information. In the past, I covered ways to successfully search and find answers. This month I want to focus on two specific locations where you can gather useful information and hopefully gather inspiration.

You have likely stumbled upon a forum at some point while surfing the web. It usually occurs when searching for information that has a shared common interest. Another place you may have landed while searching is a blog. Blogs can be a good resource because the person that is posting is usually passionate about the subject matter they are writing about. Let’s look at why you might utilize these spaces and the differences between them.

Blogs are basically journals, and the author controls the discussion. Even the name is short for web log. Most of the time, information is displayed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent post appearing at the top of the list.

According to Yahoo Small Business, there are 130 million active blog readers in the U.S., and 80 percent of U.S. online consumers trust the information they receive from them. Additionally, 61 percent of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog. I think we all agree that not everything you read online is true, however, learning from or taking recommendations from well-established bloggers can be a reliable source of information.

Forums also offer a great deal of information. Instead of one person being the key information provider, forums gain value by those that participate. While a forum is similar to a chat room in format, it is very different in many ways in order to be effective in its purpose. Posters are expected to behave the same way they would when talking to people in real-life and should avoid using chat slang so everyone who reads the post can understand it. Posts are encouraged to have as much information and details as possible, so people can accurately understand what is being asked or explained.

Unlike chat rooms, forums are not considered real time and are archived for the benefit of future readers. Each poster is at an equal level while discussing topics and bouncing ideas off one another. The content on a forum is usually limited to one particular topic. For instance, when I am having a problem with my boat, I will typically browse boat forums where people are discussing the same problem (topic) I am having. This is referred to as a thread and allows me to get several different viewpoints and known solutions to my specific problem.

It is important to understand the many tools available to you online. Not only can you take advantage of them, you can also be a contributor to a forum and get involved in the conversation. If you like to write journals and let your thoughts be known, you might want to consider becoming a blogger. As a blogger, it is even possible to earn a living once you gain enough followers.

Information is valuable, always seek to learn and contribute whenever possible.