Some Forum Administration Lingo

Message boards, like anything else, come with their own brand of lingo. I'll take you through some of the more common terminology that you'll encounter in the world of forum administration. If you're experienced with message boards, feel free to skip this section (or skim it for fun). If not, these are some good terms for you to get acquainted with, as you'll undoubtedly be exposed to them.

Forum: An organizational area for posts on your message board with a common theme.

Archive: A special type of read-only forum that holds old posts generally deemed worthy of keeping around by a moderator.

Category: A group of forums that (ideally!) share a common theme, typically displayed on the front page of a message board.

Topic/Thread: A string of related posts that live in a forum.

Administrator: This person controls all aspects of the message boards, including the forum software and possibly even the underlying server hardware.

Moderator: A user the administrator entrusts with running the day-to-day operations of a specific forum. Moderators may be experts in the field their forum may cover, for example.

Super moderator: A user the administrator designates who can moderate all of the forums on the message board. Some administrators choose to make all their moderators super moderators, while others give this title to possibly one other person.

Signature/"Sig": Users can optionally affix a signature to each of their posts, which may contain a quote, an image known as a tag, or pretty much anything else they want.

Hack: Also known as a modification (or simply mod), hacks are not as bad as they may sound. Hacks generally add new features to the board. This old-hat terminology lives on despite the mainstream media's confusion of hackers with crackers, which are criminals. Don't get the two confused. A phpBB hacker generally implements lots of new features for the board software and releases them to the public.

Script kiddie: Script kiddies are crackers that exploit and deface web sites and message boards for fun and bragging rights. Sometimes, script kiddies can cause lots of damage. As a message board administrator, you should secure your board as if you are under constant threat from script kiddies and other, more sophisticated, threats, because you are.

Troll: A user generally intent on causing havoc on your board. Trolls like to start arguments or generally act disrespectful to everyone. They have existed on the Internet (and in real life, for that matter!) since the beginning of time. Get used to them! You'll see more than your share while you administer a message board.

Bot: Bots are a relatively new phenomenon in the fight for message board security; the typical bot registers new accounts on message boards automatically in order to boost their search engine rankings. Some bots are sophisticated enough to spam certain types of message boards. If you enable the proper validation in phpBB, you won't have to deal with these. (I'll cover defense against bots at length in Chapter 10.)

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