Use Forums Effectively #3

Optimize Your Messages

The Learn English forum is becoming very popular. However not everyone seems to "get it". Forum is a Latin word, it was the main public square at the centre of a Roman town, which acted as the main meeting place and shopping area.  Generally speaking a forum on the internet is a place to share knowledge and thoughts.

Your messages should be concise, think carefully about the content, intent, and tone. If you want to encourage people to talk with you try this five-stage process for writing your messages:

1. Get to know the forum.

When you find a forum you like just start by reading the forum's messages carefully. Try reading the discussion boards for a week or so without actually responding or posting anything yourself. In chat rooms, just sit quietly for a while to see if the discussions that are going on are truly something in which you wish to engage. Don't respond to private messages in that time either, just make a note of things you want to follow up in your message.

2. What do you want to discuss?

Identify the core content of your message. Jot down the basics of what you want to say (e.g., a paragraph about the 3-4 most important issues raised by the group so far, a sentence about one area you'd like to explore in more depth, and an open-ended question to encourage more discussion).

Imagine that you are one of the forum participants. Read the message aloud to check your tone. Does it foster a spirit of community building, co-learning, etc.? Does it "sound" like the way you talk?

3. Keep it topical.

Revise your message, checking to make sure that what you say is appropriate for the forum and it is in the correct topic area.

4. Keep it friendly. Reread / revise the message again, this time adding finishing touches such as a greeting or opening sentence.

5. Be correct.

Check for spelling and grammatical errors.

6. Ask for feedback

Don't be afraid to admit that English isn't your first language. Ask people for help.