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Check the forum on the web

By Jean-Claude Elias - Dec 06,2019 - Last updated at Dec 06,2019

Forum. The original definition of the word was that of “a public square or marketplace in ancient Roman cities, used for judicial and other business”. It then evolved into “a meeting or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged”. Today, for most of us, it is “a website or web page where users can post comments about a particular issue or topic and reply to other users’ postings”. (lexico.com).

Manufacturers, vendors and developers of high-tech products of all kinds today count on the online forum created by the communities of users to discuss, criticise, debate, comment, provide tips, suggestions and answers about the products. The massive number and the variety of posts that can be found and read on such forums does not only help the users solve their problems and make better use of the product, it also helps the makers to design improved new versions. They have come to count on these forums sometime more than on their own documentation, user manuals and website!

Using technology means that sooner or later you will encounter difficulty and will have questions to ask. Whether it is software, a device or an online application, whether you are tech-minded or not, chances are you will need answers at some point.

The fast pace of change, the huge range of products, not to mention the different versions and upgrades, is making it a formidable challenge for manufacturers, designers and developers always to have the necessary and updated documentation available for the user. This is where web forums come. Most manufacturers do publish the old, usual FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) documentation, but this does not make it up for a dynamic forum.

Whereas you would hardly find a real forum for say a vacuum cleaner or a smart TV, virtually all important, widely used software products have a forum. For instance, Microsoft Access, one of the most popular programming language for databases has tens of forums. There you will not only find answers to your questions when writing an Access programme, you will also find posts and tutorials that will teach you how to do it right and better.

J.River Media Player is a leading software player of music, photos and videos. The functionality, the features, the scope of use is so large that it is only on its community forums that you will find the answers to your needs when running the application. This is particularly true when you try to create your own music network.

Samsung Galaxy smartphones are used by millions of people in the world. It was only normal have forums talking about the devices — forums.androidcentral.com.

Anyone can create a forum for a given product. All you need is an Internet domain name and a website. How popular, how active the forum becomes is unpredictable. Most forums are open, some require you to register, if only to abide by their rules and code of ethics. Other are paid forums.

Are forums the ideal way to get answers and to solve issues with technology products? It all depends on the product. Sometime the number of posts is overwhelming, and finding the answer to your question is like finding a needle in a haystack. In other cases, getting direct help from the developer or the manufacturer simply is impossible. This is the case for instance of the Belgium-based service of mass mailing called YMLP and of the above mentioned J.River.

Other big services such as beIN sports channels or GoDaddy web and e-mail hosting, despite their gigantic size, do provide personalised help and assistance over the phone. In specific cases this is, and by far, the best, most effective way to communicate with the vendor. It certainly is the friendliest and most pleasant — definitely more than even the best forum.

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