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Forums What They Are And Why They Re Essential For Anyone Considering An Online Business

(category: Forums, Word count: 513)
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Well... first off, let's define exactly what a Forum is so that you'll be able to relate to what I'm about to explain within this article.

The simple definition of a Forum is... it's a online community with a open discussion that allows you to 'Post' questions or queries related to a specific topic.

You can find Forums online related to any topic under the sun, so it doesn't matter what the question is that you might have because there's a Forum out there with hundreds, if not, thousands of members ready and willing to give you helpful Tips and Advice to the questions you have making your life and decision making that much easier.

I can't stress this enough, especially if you're New to Internet and the Internet marketing scene.

Now, for the last segment of this article on want to focus on WHY forums are essential for Anyone who is considering starting an online business.

Well, the main reason is this... Forums are a great way to research your market you are considering developing a Product or Service for.

Why, you ask?

Simply because this is where people go to post there questions about a certain problem they're dealing with and the 'Rule Of Thumb' is... when creating a Product or Service (no matter what kind of product or service it is) make sure it solves a - Problem.

This is the KEY ingredient to the success of your Product or Service.

Seriously, take a look at all the Posts from the members and note which ones share the most common threads.

If you see alot of common treads, that means there's potential for a Product or Service to be developed.

By doing this simple task it will save you Time and more importantly... MONEY, because who would spend the Time and Money researching and developing a Product or Service if there was NO demand for it. Right?

You see how this works.

It Pays to do a little research.

And Research is the KEY ingredient for a successful Product or Service and Forums are simply a great place to get started, especially for anyone considering starting an online business.

Now, with that said, what you need to do now is figure out what you would ENJOY doing as a online business and draft up a business plan from there.

This is a VERY important step.

Then, go to your favorite search engine and search out a few forums within the area of business your interests lie and become a member.

Take notice to the main topics and write them down on a notepad so you can look over them later to see if there's any potential.(Remember, the most common threads)

It's that simple.

I truly hope this article helped you and opened up your mind up to the endless possibilities that await you online, no matter what business your considering.

We all need Answers and Forums are simply the BEST place to get them answered.

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How To Become A Successful Freelancer Designer On The Contest Forums

(category: Forums, Word count: 372)
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Do you want to know the best method to become successful as a Freelance Web, Logo & Template Designer? This article will help you save hours hunting around for the best forums and techniques to succeed!

There is no better way of improving your skills, getting recognised and building up ideas than to compete in the Graphic Design Forums. With so many different contest forums on the web it is difficult to pick out the ones that are best suited to for you. There are literally hundreds of web sites offering freelance services and forums.

A good way to help you decide is to think about what kind of results you wish to get out of joining. Some people join to compete against other designers in the hopes of winning competitions and receiving financial rewards. Others join up to learn from their professional competitors and slowly build up their skills and reputation. The problem with competing for money is that unless you are a well established and talented designer with loads of previous experience you are unlikely to win many if any competitions. How do I know this? Well, I tried to do that exact thing for over a year and it rarely paid off for me.

It is important to understand that top professional designers with years of experience will be regularly showing of their creative skills by submitting their superior designs. They have a system in place for quickly and professionally come up with brilliant designs to meet the clients specifications. However, don't let this put you off as competing against the professionals will help you to improve your own works.

When looking at current submission think of how you could improve upon that design. I am not saying rip off their designs, as this will lead to your account being banned from the forums. Simply acknowledge their work and come up with something equally as original based on the guidelines set by the client and submissions already present.

Here are some useful design forums to look at:http://www.sitepoint.comhttp://www.namepros.comhttp://www.designcontests.netNext weeks article will focus on these forums in more detail. We will also discuss how to successful build up a reputation.

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Using Forum Posting To Drive Traffic

(category: Forums, Word count: 186)
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Post relevant information to forums and genuinely contribute to discussions. And have your signature along so that your link will be there. When you visit sites with guestbook, forums, or blogs make posting leaving your link behind. And people will click it and find your site and shop.

Go to http://www.big-boards.com for a list of forums.

But all the forums are yelling, "Don't abuse forum rules!" What are forum rules? They don't want you to post a link, even if it offers help. If you do, the moderator will delete your entry immediately and have you banned. If your signature is even allowed, nobody reads signatures. Ask this: when is the last time you personally read a signature?

It is only when your comments and discussion is so powerful that people will trace you. Like most traffic techniques, fun comes in first.

You should just try to help other and have fun while posting in forums and leave your signature so that anyone interested in you can find you.

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Web 2 0 Tag Based Forum

(category: Forums, Word count: 389)
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Web 2.0 generally refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online. Web 2.0 application often use a combination of techniques devised in the late 1990s, including public web service APIs, Ajax and web syndication. They often allow for mass publishing (web-based social software). The term may include blogs and wikis.

Lately, a new Web 2.0 application has launched called SayOutLoud. SayOutLoud is an interesting and new approach to your average discussion board site. It's not a discussion system that you download and install on your site, but a one location where anyone can go and discuss anything at all. It uses tagging rather then using forums and threads to organize content. The system is extremely minimalist and is designed in a way that anyone can get in and start a discussion.

A tag is a keyword which acts like a subject or category. A keyword is used to organize webpages and objects on the Internet. Each user "tags" a webpage or image using his/her own unique tag. An image or webpage may have multiple tags that identify it. Webpages and images with identical tags are then linked together and users may use the tag to search for similar webpages and images.

When you submit your story to SayOutLoud, it notifies several other Web 2.0 services including Del.icio.us and Technorati about your post. Because these systems also support tagging, hundreds of users watching a the tag(s) you posted to will immideately discover your post. You can have the experts reading whatever you had to say out loud in minutes.

SayOutLoud also features your average discussion board functionality where you can search posts and users, manage your profile, and post new threads. Although the main difference is that everything is organized with folksonomy so when searching for users and threads, you can search by tag. Because of this, it also makes it easy for me to find people with related interests and to follow their discussion simply by searching for users on a specific interest tag. I type in "AJAX" and I get a list of members that are interested in Ajax. Same applies to threads. Furthermore, you can also view a tag cloud so you can find new and popular discussions.

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Phpbb2 All It Can Be

(category: Forums, Word count: 1479)
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Please allow me to start off and say that I am very happy to run PHP software on my computer. Specifically, the bulletin boards developed by PHPBB2 [an open source program] works head and shoulders above the EZBoard system I gave up on several months earlier. Still, it has its own special challenges that only a regular user or administrator can appreciate. If you are considering starting your own message board community please read on for some homespun advice on how to make PHPBB2 work best for you.

On Memorial Day 2005 I had a rude awakening. Although a national holiday here in the U.S. I was taking advantage of that day to catch up on some much needed behind the scenes work. You see, when you work for yourself a holiday just isn't the same thing. It ends up being a day where your phone isn't likely to ring all that much, thereby making it a better opportunity to catch up on all the little niggling details of operating a business, like paying bills and bookkeeping. Okay, I digress.

What happened on that special day was the total overthrow of the EZBoard message board system. Hackers, so EZBoard claimed, infiltrated their entire system and brought down the house. Literally overnight thousands of boards were affected and compromised. Now for the rub: forum managers, myself included, had no power to back up their sites. Thus, what was lost was likely lost for good or would take many weeks to restore from pasted together backups. We depended on EZBoard for our back ups and when their system failed we all suffered.

So then the decision was made for me. I downloaded PHPBB2 software a few days later and immediately went to work.

As open source programs go the PHPBB2 software was free and the instructions were quite good. Fortunately for me the two sites that I planned to set up, the Aviation Employment Board and the Corporate Flight Attendant Community, already had separate web pages hosted with a company that could support a database. This particular MySQL database would essentially power the site and house important stuff including all the member information.

Fortunately those who have been working on building, maintaining, and promoting PHPBB have a copious amount of detailed information accessible right online and available for viewing and/or downloading. Personally, the biggest help to me were the excellently made Flash videos that helped walk me through the installation process. Without them in place, I doubt I would have figured it all out. Truly, in this case, a picture is worth a thousand words each!

In addition to the software itself, PHPBB2 also offers a separate file to help speed the process conversion process from EZBoard to PHPBB2. This EZBoard converter takes messages from the old board and transfers them to the new board. Unfortunately, it was only partially successful which could have been due to the hacked nature of the EZBoard site. Still, what I was able to move over was helpful, but it did not include member files as that bit of necessary information was under EZBoard's lock and key.

By the time I downloaded everything, followed all the instructions, converted what I could from EZBoard, laid out the new site, and made some additional design changes, approximately eight hours had flown past. At the end of that time a useful and functioning board was in place. The next day I contacted all my current EZBoard members and told them about the switch and put notices on the old site about the change. Most of my members were very understanding as they realized that the switch had to be made.

Without exception PHPBB2 has been a big improvement. Still, it could use some refining and, happily, many of those refinements are routinely accomplished within regular updates of the software or via preselected "mods" that a forum manager can select.

Without belaboring the point here are some things that I have observed about PHPBB2 that are helpful to know about before going with the software:

Limited Support There is a lot of information right online to read and there are forums moderated by volunteers. At the same time the moderators are stretched very thin and sometimes their responses border on the irritated. Of course, that could have something to do with all the N00B questions, many of which are answered somewhere on the site. My recommendation is that you spend plenty of time reading before posting a question. Study the forum for similar questions asked and answers given.

Difficult Updates Get on the forum managers mailing list to ensure that you receive notification of each update as they are made. Some updates are simple while others are more difficult. If you make any modifications to your site then only a "patch" update is necessary while everyone else will select "changed files only." If you select "changed files only" and you have some mods installed, you risk losing all of your mods. Let's just say that already has happened to me once!

AOL Quirks Some members have difficulty signing up, especially AOL account holders. It seems to be that the confirmation code doesn't always show up when members register [you don't need to have it enabled, but it does put a halt to rogue registrants] and sometimes AOL users get booted when logged on. A little thing called "sessions" monitors everyone's visits by examining their I.P. address for a match. Of course, AOL scrambles I.P. addresses mid-session, a reason for much of the booting. The fix involved from a PHPBB2 standpoint is not recommended as it puts you at risk for security breaches. Quite frankly, I have urged some members to leave AOL especially if they can't work around it on their end.

Back Ups The administration panel is simple to use, but back ups don't always work. Errors messages prevail; therefore backing up through your web host is another option. Speaking of the administration panel, you can select whether members can email each other [not a good thing to have enabled], how long their signature can be, enable automatic pruning of posts, and lots more. Indeed, the features offered by PHPBB2 far exceed the limitations that are inherent with EZBoard.

There are alternative forums to PHPBB2 and one popular one is another PHP program called vBulletin. vBulletin utilizes excellent forum software that takes off where PHPBB2 leaves off. Many of the modifications that are not part of PHPBB2 are standard with vBulletin, therefore removing some of the behind the scenes tasks that a webmaster must do with PHPBB2 in order to customize his site.

So, why not go with vBulletin? For many it is simply the cost. With vBulletin, you can lease a license for $85 for one year or buy a license for $160. Access to updates after the first year costs another $30 per year while custom support can run from $30 for one month up to $300 for one year. Thus, if you have a small forum that makes little or no money, and you need extra special assistance, than vBulletin can be a big expense to carry. Other paid forums have similar expenses, but there are some free ones out there. For the record, EZBoard isn't free, although the start up cost is very low. However, your renewal fee is calculated on the amount of bandwidth used in the most recent thirty day period and for some forum managers that amount could easily be several hundreds to well over one thousand dollars!

So then, why go with PHPBB2? Well, language packs to name a big reason. Besides English forums, an additional 59 languages are supported by this open source code! From Afrikaans to Vietnamese, Arabic to Russian, and from French to German, PHPBB2 is available in many native languages. For people of very limited means this has become an excellent way to communicate for no capital outlay. One gets the sense that PHPBB2 is very proud of this fact and I must admit that I am too!

As I write this I am in the midst of updating my two sites to the latest release. Because it is near the Christmas season I am also looking at several themed templates for my flight attendant site and have selected a "Merry Christmas" board replete with drifting down snowflakes. This template, which looks so professionally done, is free as well.

I plan on sticking with PHPBB2, quirks and all, by continuing to support our growing community of forum managers worldwide. Each of us, in our own way, has helped to shape this all important piece of open source software. It certainly isn't perfect, but it definitely has been a lot of fun and has helped me to increase my knowledge as well as to appreciate the whole open source movement.

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Phpbb2 Selecting The Correct Update

(category: Forums, Word count: 296)
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In my previous articles about PHPBB2 I shared with readers my experience in shifting over to this type of software and I also listed some of my favorite mods and styles. If you already have downloaded PHPBB2 and are running it on your computer you have a great piece of open source software at your finger tips. As with any program you must keep it up to date. Let's take a look at some important things to consider in keeping your program current.

First of all, the best thing you can do is to subscribe to the opt-in mailing list for notification of any updates. You must subscribe as no one will automatically tell you your site is out of date although your administration panel will give that information to you. To opt-in please visit www.phpbb.com to subscribe.

Next, when updates are announced you must select between two methods: a "changed files only" update or a "patch" update. If you haven't made any extra special modifications to your program than the first choice is what you want. Simply download the information to your desktop, unzip the files, and follow the installation instructions on how to update your board. If you have added on some modifications than a "patch" update is for you. If you select the former method you will delete all of your modifications. Thus, only a patch update is what you want in order to keep your modifications in place.

So, that's it. Make sure you receive notifications of changes as they occur and select the right update for your board. When an update is announced, plan on installing sooner rather than later as many updates include important security improvements that can help to close holes in the program.

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Why Do Some Websites Have Message Boards

(category: Forums, Word count: 395)
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Remember when email seemed so quick and convenient? You could share your thoughts with a friend or group of friends within a period of a few minutes. Then the technology of instant messaging was developed, and with it, message boards. Website builders quickly picked up on the use of message boards, seeing how these boards allowed instant communication between everyone viewing their website.

A message board can be found in several different formats. Some websites require visitors to create an account, with a user name and password, before they can post a message on the board. Other websites have message boards that are open to anyone to post anonymously. Their post will show up instantly on the board. Sometimes, a message board will be watched over by an editor, or moderator, who can reject or delete posts based on whether the content of the post is appropriate for that website. On these boards, posts are often delayed for a brief period of time so that the moderator can read over the post. Some message boards are divided up by topic. These are also referred to as threads. Visitors to the message board can pick a topic, and when they post their message, it will appear under that topic.

So what is the benefit of a website having a message board? Some websites are actually built around message boards. An example of this type of website might be a hobby website for people who like to paint scenery. The site would have a message board where artists could come to talk to other artists to get ideas or tips, or to find out about a specific topic related to painting, such as where to buy a certain type of paint or brush. Other websites have message boards to encourage traffic on their site. Think of a music group, for example. By providing message boards for their fans, they are encouraging their fans both to visit their site and to spread the word about their group, which would in turn increase album and merchandise sales.

If you are looking for information on any topic, a message board is a great place to visit. And, if you are building your own website, consider adding one; there are many benefits, and it will be appreciated by everyone who visits your site.

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Msn Yahoo Communities The Basics

(category: Forums, Word count: 395)
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I'm sure at one time or another, we've all explored either an msn or yahoo community or both. Communities are a FREE service that allows us to build and manage, discussion groups, family sites, business communities etc.

These communities can be a powerful tool to promote your business only if you know how to use them effectively.

There are 100's of very popular communities that allow anyone to post as many "Classified Ads" as possible. Unless you to spend hours doing this, I suggest you leave if be for the time being.

What I'd like to focus more on is "WHY" you should create your own msn & yahoo community for yourself!

See, many of the best search engines will pick up your community because of the sheer size and popularity of msn & yahoo.

Also, I see many marketers wasting a lot of time because they are trying to promote too many services or opportunities at one time. A community will allow you to add ALL that you promote into one site and then all you have to worry about is promoting that one site!

This won't happen over night and learning how to easy it is to build & manage your own community will be posted in the next issue #2.

Before we get into that, you'll want to join the "Top Rated" communities in the business sections. Doing this will allow you to familiarize yourself with what is "the norm" with these communities. Also, after you've made the necessary adjustments and you've prepared your own community, you'll be using all the top communities to promote your own.

I must apologize to those who have never joined and msn or yahoo community. You'll need to sign up for a user passport which is simply an msn or yahoo e-mail and password.

For an msn passport click below:http://register.passport.net/default.srf?sl=1For a yahoo passport click below:

Yahoo Passport Sign Up

When signing up for an msn community, you'll want to click the option "READ ALL MESSAGES ONLINE". This way you won't fill your e-mail account with countless messages that are posted everyday... Also, click on "KEEP MY E-MAIL PRIVATE" so that you don't get any junk this way either.

And now you have the basics of communities, please look for the sequel to this article titled:

"Building & Managing your own community"

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Forum Essentials Dress Up Your Site For The Holidays

(category: Forums, Word count: 303)
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If you manage a message board community, a key to your site's success is the lively banter between members. Without conversation, your site will quickly die off. You can't police your forum and respond to every post, but there are a few things you can do as an administrator to get things moving again.

Hold a contest. Yes, who doesn't like to win something, anything? You don't have to spend a lot of money and the prize can be as simple as a magazine subscription, free membership for one year to your site, or an electronic gift card for the lucky winner. Want to go big time? Find a merchant to sponsor a gift; in exchange for their donation give them free advertising on your site for an agreed period of time.

Update your icons. The same old, nondescript icons will certainly bring about the yawns. Spice things up by swapping out one set of icons for another. Holiday themed icons are a favorite.

Change your background or theme. Holiday themed backgrounds that promote a warm glow in the hearts of your members will retain your visitors like nothing else. Put away the stale, antiseptic backgrounds and put some holiday pizzazz into your forums.

Cyber Grab Bag. No, I haven't tried this one...yet! However, I do know of sites where members play "Secret Santa" with other members. This can be in the form of a surprise email, an electronic gift, or a donation to the recipient's favorite charity.

There are many other ways to get your site moving again. Use this festive time of the year to come up with a plan that is certain to spark interest in your site. If in doubt as to what to do next, ask your members...they'll know!

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