Allaire Forums uses a four-tiered structure for on-line discussions. This table helps explain each of the four components.
|Conferences||Defined by administrators, conferences relate to a broad topic, community, or business area.|
|Forums||Defined by administrators, forums focus on individual topic areas such as a particular product or service.|
|Threads||Created by end users (that's you) to narrow discussion to a particular topic in a forum such as a product feature, problem, or comment.|
|Messages||End users (you again) post messages in reply to existing messages, to create new threads, or to add new messages to an existing thread.|
When you enter a conference you'll see forums, threads, and messages. You can look over the messages in a forum or thread and move to other forums just by clicking.
The conference you're using may not be structured anything like this example, but we thought it might help you understand how the pieces fit together so that later on when we say something like "Check out the options available for getting email notification from marked threads in the conference forum," you'll pretty much know what we're talking about.
Think of a conference like a banquet hall at the Knights of Columbus. It's full of people gathered into little clusters, carrying on conversations. Some people are talking, some are listening, others are sitting along the wall with a nice fresh cigar. Each of the little clusters is like a forum: it has its own subject matter and its own group dynamic.
In each forum, people post messages, or, to stretch the banquet hall metaphor a little further, people talk with one another. Some of what's said serves to open a new topic of conversation. Other times, people respond to a subject that's already in play. A thread is really just a conversation. Often you post a message in reply to someone else's message, or you post a message in order to initiate a conversation (thread). Sometimes all you may want to do is read messages others have posted. Sometimes, all you want is another plate of corned beef.