Personally, I spend a lot of time on forums. I met my current flatmate on a forum (which was dedicated to video games, not flat-sharing!). I’ve even created one or two forums, for purposes not in the slightest related to SEO, PPC, web design or links – so I won’t go into those here.
Web marketing forums tend to be a little more civilised and less opinionated than forums dedicated to, for example, TV shows or books; but in places, things can be just as hard to decipher if you’re not used to them…
Forum veterans tend to adopt their very own language of abbreviations. Some of them cross over with text-speak, but others are very forum-specific. There can also be allusions to all sorts of things that would confuse a casual internet user. Here, then, is your guide to forums and forum-speak!
Forums, Threads and Posts
What’s the difference? Well, a forum is the entire discussion site – for example, PetForums.co.uk. A thread is a discussion topic, which can usually be started by any registered forum user, once they’re logged in. Anything contributed to a specific thread is called a post.
So I could post on a PPC forum, starting my own thread called ‘What Am I Doing Wrong?’ My post within the thread would detail the problem I might be having with my PPC account, and once I’d created it, I’d wait for other posts to appear below mine, hopefully with advice or a solution to my problem.
Types of Forum Posters
Unfortunately, not everyone on the internet is helpful and polite – a bit like in real life! You might think that if they don’t have anything meaningful to contribute to your thread, they should just go elsewhere. Sadly, some people join forums just to stir up hornets’ nests wherever they post. These people are known as ‘trolls’, and they’re considerably less common on business forums than on hobby/interest-related forums, so don’t worry too much about them!
For this reason, forums have staff, known as ‘admins’ and/or ‘moderators’ – sometimes ‘mods’ for short. If you have problems with trolls, or overly opinionated people in general, the moderators are the ones to go to. They’ll usually step in of their own accord if things get out of hand – but if you need to hunt them down, they’ll usually have thousands of posts to their names and something about their profile that identifies them as moderators.
Then there are the regular posters – people who have been there for a while or are quite enthusiastic, if a bit wet behind the ears. These people are most often happy to help out. This describes the majority of forum users, and maybe even you!
Between the mods and the regular posters are the old-timers, who have been there years and sometimes act like mods even though they’re not. Old-timers can be quite cliquey at times, and less talkative than regulars, but generally they know of what they speak, so listen up!
Last but not least are the drama queens – who will take everything possible as a personal affront to them, and make sure everyone knows about it – and the newbies. Newcomers to forums fall into two categories – newbies and n00bs.
The difference between the two? Newbies just have a low post count and are still picking up the rules and etiquette of the forum. N00bs (which is pronounced ‘noobs’ and rhymes with ‘cubes’) talk in text/chat-speak, punctuate everything with ‘lol’ and generally annoy people by accident.
Aim for something between a newbie and a regular, and you should do fine!
But what does it all mean?
So, you’ve posted on a forum because you need help with SEO or AdWords, or else just to introduce yourself. What are all these strange additions to English in the replies you’re getting? Here are a few of the common abbreviations you might find on a business-orientated forum:
OP: This stands for ‘original poster’. If you’ve started a thread, and someone replies a little way down with ‘I think the OP makes a good point’, that person means you.
IMO, IMHO or IMNSHO: Respectively, ‘in my opinion’, ‘in my humble opinion’ and ‘in my not-so-humble opinion’.
IRL: ‘In real life’ – as in, not on the internet.
DNFTT: ‘Do not feed the troll’ – usually posted by mods and regulars in response to a troll trying to start an argument. The principle of ‘ignore it and it’ll go away’ works online as well as offline!
JSYK: This one stands for ‘just so you know’.
PM: Unless you’re on a politics forum, this is unlikely to mean ‘Prime Minister’. It’s short for ‘private message’ – a bit like an email. This is a forum’s way of letting members contact one another without divulging your personal email address. Messages get sent to your private messages inbox, which you should then get an email about, to tell you to check your PMs. If someone you don’t know wants to share information with you out of the beady eyes of the rest of the forum, PMs are the standard method of choice.
BTW: This means ‘by the way’.
JK or J/K: This is ‘just kidding’.
YMMV: ‘Your mileage may vary’ – basically, this is used to mean ‘I had this experience with something, but you might find something different’.
TL;DR: Short for ‘too long; didn’t read’. People might use this in response to something you wrote, or at the end of something they wrote, followed by a short summary of their point so that people can skip to it if they don’t want to read the entire post.
You get the picture. I also found a great list of abbreviations that have been compiled by members of an SEO forum. The internet and SEO abbreviations are below the generic ones at the top, which you might already know.
Good luck in the crazy world of forums! There are some very knowledgeable brains to be picked out there, if you know where to look. And BTW, if you get the hang of it, bear in mind that there are probably lots of forums dedicated to things you love, outside of work. JSYK. 😉