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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Shoreline, Washington, USA
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post


    Build a community bulletin board in 15 minutes

    By Woody Leonhard

    To thrive and grow, small organizations — clubs, charities, or any group with a common interest — need easy-to-use, easy-to-access ways to communicate and share information.

    For group discussions, e-mail is popular but often clumsy and chaotic; simple online bulletin boards, on the other hand, provide structure to discussions and are surprisingly easy to set up.

    The full text of this column is posted at (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-19 at 17:30.

  2. #2
    3 Star Lounger Woody's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Nashville, Tennessee
    Thanked 657 Times in 5 Posts
    This is the message that I send out to everyone in my group. Before you send the message, change “yourdomainname” to whatever name you chose for your BB in the FreeForums sign up. In this example, I’ve set up two forums (er, fora), one called “Board Business” and the other called “Fun Stuff”. If you create forums that are substantially different from the ones in this example, you may want to re-shoot the final screen shot in this message.

    During the initial sign-up period, I allow anybody and everybody to sign up for the bulletin board. These instructions show people how to sign themselves up, and get working immediately. After the initial influx of members, I go back into the Administration Control Panel (described in the article) and require that new members be vetted by an administrator.

    Dear Member:

    We have a new Bulletin Board for our group, with forums set up to help organize our discussions. If you’ve never used a forum, you’re in for a bit of a shock. Internet forums are modeled after the old Senate forums in Rome: they’re pretty much wide-open. You can start your own discussion. Once you’ve started a discussion, anybody can talk (post a message) and say anything they like.

    Here’s how to sign up for our new Bulletin Board. If you would be so kind as to go to

    Then in the upper right corner, click Register.

    (First screen shot)

    Fill out the form. Check the box that says you agree to the terms, and click Submit.

    You’ll get immediate confirmation like this:

    (Second screen shot)

    Click the link marked “Return to the index page.”

    In the upper right corner again, click Login. Type your username and password, click the Login box, click the link that says “Return to the index page” and you should be able to see the available discussions.

    From that point on, you should be able to go to, sign in, and proceed to the discussions. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but you start at the Board Index, which looks like this:

    (Third screen shot)

    Then you can click on a Forum, and see what people are saying. Please do go into “The Fun Stuff” forum and post a test message. Once you’re comfortable with the forum, post away – you have full privileges; you can even create your own new topic.

    I’ve set this up so anybody can join. Once all of the our members have signed up, I’ll switch it over so the Forum Administrator (currently yours truly, but that may change) has to approve new members.
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    For Dummies book author, Senior Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, and long-suffering Windows victim. Check out the latest at

  3. #3
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Portland, OR
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    Good column, Woody, but I would like to offer a bit of additional advice -

    Instead of using gmail, yahoo, etc to create a throwaway address, go to You INSTANTLY get an e-mail address and account which is good for ten minutes (you can request additiional time). This is usually plenty enough time to confirm the address, which is the only thing you usually want to do with a throwaway address.

    There's even a link to copy the address to your clipboard.

    It could not possibly be any easier. There is no sign-up, no forms to fill out, no Captcha.

  4. #4
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Thank you Woody for your great article.

    I agree, Freeforums is great for discussions, but not so good for a repository of archive material or the agreed result of a discussion.
    The problem is freeforums deletes forums that have been inactive [no new posts] for 60 days.
    It is not clear if this applies to the total forum or any sub-fora within it.

    Any ideas or an article about longer term storage of reference material for access by a defined group ?.

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