Call it what you will, a Forum, Discussion Board or Bulletin Board, its another great way of building up that all important rich content that the search engines love. Forums are quite common on the internet and you will see them attached to most of the major sites, usually as a cheap an automated way of providing customer support!
How many times have you tried to find a contact email address or phone number for the likes of Google, Paypal or Ebay and realized that their support structure consists of an entirely Do It Yourself approach where you are obliged to find the answer to your own question yourself instead of simply asking someone! Anyway moaning aside, its not a bad way to provide a support or Frequently Asked Questions section on a site or simply a means for your clients to get talking amongst themselves about your business area and expanding your site for you in the process.
A Forum is very similar to a Blog in that it can build organically as people comment on posts or respond to topics. It differs in that you don’t necessarily have to keep posting and relying on people to comment on your posts as in a blog. Instead you simply set topics of interest and people will get talking to each other.
Forums may not be appropriate for all sites, obviously the more your business is of interest to as many people as possible the better so small personal sites and the like may not generate the interest but if your site is about Psychics (which a bizarre amount of people are fascinated by!) or whatever is currently popular or whatever affects most people then you could see your Forum really take off.
One Forum concerning Infertility which I manage technically has a membership of 593 with a total of over 20,000 articles posted!
A professional Forum can register users, handle multiple topics, include search forms and come complete with an administration section. The best thing about Forums is that you can get the software to run them on your site for free!
Let us know if you’d like help with installing a Forum on your site.