Find others who share your interests in CompuServe forums
Despite all of CompuServe’s variety, one part of CompuServe undoubtedly gets more use than any other: the forums. You Can find forums on almost any topic, from scuba diving to Java programming, for example. Whether you want to become a true CompuServe expert or just a competent user, you need to know how to use the forums.
Using forums is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. All forums have a message board (where members send messages to each other) and a file library (where forum files are stored). Each of these parts is divided by topic into additional sections. So, for example, if you want to find a file relating to a specific topic, you would just go to the part of the library section that covers your topic of interest.
What is a CompuServe forums anyway?
A forum is like one of those after-school clubs you belonged to in high school. It’s where people with the same interests get together to talk and exchange information. Once you enter a forum, you’re confronted with a variety of options (covered in more detail later in this chapter):
can move to a more focused section of the forum; most forums
have at least ten distinct sections targeting different sub interests.
- You can read the messages of other forum members, and you can reply to those messages if you want.
- You can search through the forum libraries for files. When you find a file you want, you can download it directly to your computer.
- If other members are visiting the forum when you’re online, you can “chat” with them.
- From time to time, you can participate in special conferences that incorporate a number of other forum members.
CompuServe offers many types of forums, such as professional forums and hobbyist forums. You’ll also find narrow-interest forums and general-interest forums, as well as forums run by eager amateurs and forums run by large companies. In short, CompuServe forums come in just about every shape and size.
CompuServe forums were initially called SIGs (short for Special Interest Groups). Because of this, some older forums still use SIG in their names or descriptions.
Joining a forum
If you want to participate in a forum regularly, you should become a member of that forum. You do that by “joining” the forum. Remember, you don’t have to join the forum to look around; it’s perfectly okay to browse forums without joining them.
It doesn’t cost anything to join a forum. But some forums send monthly notices (via e-mail) to their forum members. If you would like to receive these notices, you’ll want to join some forums.
How do you join, then? When you enter a forum for the first time, you’re presented with a dialog box that asks whether you want to join (see Fig. 7.1). At this point, you can choose to leave without looking around, to look around but not join, or to join.
My recommendation: Go ahead and join. There’s no harm done, and it doesn’t cost anything (except the time it takes to read notices sent via e-mail). And don’t worry about “un-joining.” Even though you can’t “un-join” a forum, forum membership doesn’t really come with any obligations. The only reason you have to join is so forum management can register your CompuServe ID, and count you as a member in the reports that measure such things. (Of course, if you don’t join, you can’t use the forum.)
Many forums request that you use your real name instead of a nickname or pseudonym. You may get kicked out of a forum if you don’t adhere to this rule!