Online Forums

  Forums offer many opportunities to the creative shop manager. The information exchanged in these areas—especially in support of machining processes, product research, or just seeking to help out—requires scrutiny, finesse and a little healthy skepticism. Now, don't think from this description that forums ca

 

Forums offer many opportunities to the creative shop manager. The information exchanged in these areas—especially in support of machining processes, product research, or just seeking to help out—requires scrutiny, finesse and a little healthy skepticism.

Now, don't think from this description that forums can't be extremely valuable to today's "Web-centric" machine shop representative. If we thought they weren't, we wouldn't include them at www.productionmachining.com. But like any other tool, the correct use of these powerful tools will directly affect your results.

Online decorum is expected of participants in forums; most publish their own rules or FAQs (frequently asked questions) with regard to file attachments (that's a big deal when someone wants to pass a large CAM file), illegal exchanges and other rules pertinent to their online communities. Read all guidelines before you participate.

Forums are also referred to as "bulletin boards;" they are utilities that allow visitors to post questions, answers or comments within a topical discussion format. Not to be confused with "chat rooms" (which are online "conversations" that take place in real time), forums follow a "thread" system that allows for longer-term give-and-take.

Relevant forums for metalworking professionals can be found in diverse online locations; many publishers, suppliers, builders and associations maintain pertinent forums for the machine tool masses on their sites. Some are "closed" forums that require registration to participate (for example, some suppliers and associations maintain forums only for their customers/members). Other forums are open to all who wish to participate.

The key to effective forum use is patience and clarity. Used efficiently, forums can help shop professionals find new work, new markets, new contacts and allusive technical information.