With the advent of blogs, online journals, and other advances in web technologies that allow a variety of people to have a larger online presence, it has become increasingly important to be able to provide readers and viewers with a way to interact with their favorite websites and blogs. One of the easiest ways to do this is through an online forum....members of the forum can create new topics, discuss topics that have been created by others, and join in on a community that can become highly interactive under the right conditions.
Unfortunately, building a good forum for yourself can take time, money, and web space....and it isn't always worth it. In many cases, you can find a free forum that's hosted on sites that specialize in forums that will do as good if not better than a forum that you build from scratch. The real trick comes in choosing a free forum provider that has little or no downtime, is safe for your visitors to use, and that won't try to mess with your account once you have it set up. If you'd like to find a forum like this, consider doing the following:
- Utilize your preferred search engine (such as Google or Yahoo!) and do a search for free forum hosting. It's likely that you'll find multiple pages of results, but don't worry; the most relevant results will appear on the first page or two, so you won't have to go through all of the results to find what you're looking for.
- Look for forum hosting that has its own domain name (www.domain-name.com), instead of being a subdomain (subdomain.domain-name.com) or a subdirectory (www.domain-name.com/subdirectory). Since you'll likely see ads or reduced functions on a free host, you're going to want to make sure that they aren't cutting more corners by offering you space that they don't even own.
- Open up a few of the links for free forum hosting, checking out their terms of service and the options that they offer with their hosting. You're going to want to try and find a forum host that has as little downtime as possible, meaning that the site is online at least 99% of the time and very infrequently suffers any interruptions in service. You also should try your best to find a host who doesn't have pop-up, pop-under, or offensive advertising.
- After evaluating different options, choose the forum host that you feel the most comfortable with. If you end up having problems with them later, you can always choose a different forum host if needed.