How to Get the Best Responses in Online Forums

!( Be polite and follow the forum etiquette rules.

  • Answer lots of posts and start fun conversations.
  • Avoid the common pitfalls of new forum users.

If you've spent any time on internet forums, you've probably noticed that some posters get tons of responses to questions and queries, while other people are ignored completely. Luckily, the way people respond to you online is easy to change. This simple set of guidelines will help you garner more high-quality responses to your posts online and maybe even make some valuable networking connections.

Get to know the forum culture, then match it

The first thing you should know about online forums( is that they're like social clubs, and just like real-life socializing, there are different standards of behavior depending on where you go and whom you're with.

If you're new to a forum, it's a good idea to read forum posts a while before you create threads. Take note of the content and subject matter as well as how people express themselves. How long are most of the forum posts that get lots of responses? Are people formal in their language or casual? Do they swear and speak flippantly, or is everyone polite and clean in their writing?

Some forums are Wild West-style – pretty much anything goes – so you can use whatever language or tone you like to express yourself without alienating other members. However, most mainstream forums are more civilized, and have rules, terms of use and generally accepted standards for behavior. If people are largely polite and deferential you should be, too. Some forums have unique rules; this is certainly common in various subs on Reddit, so if there is a stickied thread outlining forum rules, make sure you read it. If there are no posted rules or guidelines(, use your good judgment and treat the forum like a public meetup; if you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it online.

Search online before you ask the online forum

People don't like answering the same question multiple times. If you have a general question, search the forum for that question before you create a thread. Your question may have already been answered thoroughly in a previous conversation. Many questions on forums get ignored simply because they are repetitive. In online culture, you get what you put in; if you don't take the time to read through previous topics, posters won't take the time to answer your questions.

Searching before you post a question also applies to acronyms, internet slang and references to things. If you don't know what YMMV or IME mean that's fine, but if everyone asked a forum member whenever they came across an unfamiliar term, then every online forum would be filled with basic questions and answers and not lively discussions. If you don't know what something means, Google it! If you can't find the answer through an internet search engine, then it is OK to ask for clarification.

Answer questions and respond to threads

If you want people to respond to your threads, you need to become an active participant in forum discussions. Don't just post queries; give answers to questions, too, and do so as frequently as you have something valuable to add. You don't have to be an all-knowing expert to answer a question; you can always describe your experience with the topic at hand rather than giving hard-and-fast advice.

People like to know how other people handle things, they like anecdotes and encouragement as well as researched advice. The more you become known on a forum as someone who gives thoughtful feedback and advice ...