The Functionality of Online Discussion Groups


How to Effectively Manage and Moderate an Online Forum

An online discussion group provides a virtual space where users can submit feedback and provide information on the topic in question. Nevertheless, to have an effective discussion group it is highly recommended that such a tool is suitably managed and moderated to guarantee that such contributions are valid. Furthermore, a registration process ensures that the users contributing to the discussion are properly identified. These measures warrant that a discussion group remains effective and does not deviate from its original purpose.

Management and Monitoring of Online Discussion Groups

Most discussion groups consist of group members and one or more moderators. The latter moderate the discussions on the online forum and ensure that the users are not deviating from the topic in question. In addition, the role of the moderator is to ensure that all contributions submitted respect the views of the other members. It is often the responsibility of the moderator to establish certain discussion group rules and create a unique identity of the group.

Web-based discussion groups offer a number of advantages which include ease of access and search functions. However, it is often the case that users do not browse through the previously submitted threads resulting into a number of topic discussions about the same subject. A number of discussion group technologies enable the moderator to approve new threads submitted, to verify that the topic is not simply a replica of a previously posted thread. In such an event, moderators usually direct the users to the previously posted thread rather than deleting the post.

Indeed, the primary role of the moderator is to provide guidance to the members of the discussion group, respond to enquiries submitted, and educate the users about the established and implicit rules of the discussion group. In addition, moderators may move, edit, and delete posts if it is deemed fit to perform such actions. Nevertheless, editing and deleting submitted posts should be exercised with care to ensure that users are not dissatisfied with the service. As a rule, posts are only deleted when they do not conform to the established rules of the discussion group.

The Registration Process of Online Discussion Groups

A registration process addresses the importance of establishing user identity, which in turn addresses the required security features of a discussion group. Most discussion forums do not accept contributions unless the users are registered within the online discussion group. This helps to eliminate the problem of certain users who post messages under a number of aliases.


The registration process can be simplified by automating some aspects of the process. Often, the registration process involves filling in a form and submitting the details requested to the web server. Traditional HTML forms verify the data submitted only when the data is returned to the server. In other words, the browser does not validate the data the user supplies. In addition, HTML created forms cannot be modified depending on the input provided by the user because HTML forms are based on a static code.

A more dynamic form would be to include Java applets to extend the capability of the browser and extend the registration form functionality. Java is a scripting language intended for client side use. In addition, JavaScript can create dynamic HTML pages that enable the web browser to directly accept the client’s input and provide information or data based on the user input. JavaScript is often used in form handling enabling validation of the user’s input before it is actually sent to the web server.

An alternative method to automate some parts of the process of registration form is to use Microsoft’s Active Server Pages (ASP). ASP enables the presenting and processing of HTML forms. Like Java, ASP is a scripting language but unlike Java it is a server-side scripting language.

Furthermore, an added service that improves the registration process is to include an automated generated confirmation email sent by the web server that supplies the newly registered users with their username and password.

The Benefits of Online Discussion Groups

A discussion group establishes a group’s identity and mission. It is a valuable tool for any type of website. It enhances users’ participation and is an extremely good source of information where all users can contribute their views and share their knowledge. Ensuring that a discussion group is adequately moderated and that users are properly identified guarantees that the discussion group remains effective and in compliance with its identity and mission.

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