Forum, or forums?

This question is about message boards in general, not just ATMB.
I once was corrected on this board when I called a thread a forum. The person claimed that the entire board was a forum.
Anyway, what is the breakdown? It seems to me, according to m-w;

that each thread would be a forum since each share a common topic involving audience discussion. “General Questions” is not a topic, the individual threads are. Right?
Please, what’s the straight dope?

The board itself is a forum, but there are individual fora (specific subdivisions) within the collective forum. A thread is a topic in each individual forum, the forum being the “meeting place” for discussion.

The bottom line is this: the plural of forum is fora. A topic presented at a forum is not a forum in and of itself.

The board is the board. The fora are the individual categories broken up for general areas of discussion (Great Debates, General Questions and MPSIMS are fora). Threads are threads – i.e specific conversations and lines of discussion.

In a broader more geneic sense, it’s also acceptable English to refer to an entire message board as a “forum,” but the same could be said of the internet as a whole. In message board terminology, a forum is a subcategory of the board.

Fora, huh? Never hoid of such a thing. I learn something new hourly, it seems.
I tend to think of each thread as a meeting, with a single topic for discussion. But I can see how that might be a problem on the internet since anyone has access to that discussion and at the same time to any other discussion.

That’s because it’s just a false-latinate overcorrection. The OED dates “forums” and the plural since at least 1647 (and they cite a latin scholar of the time using the word), and most dictionaries list “fora” as just a variant.

And just because the latin plural would have been “fora” is completely irrelevant. “Forum” is an English word derived from latin, so it follows English plural standards, like all other English words derived from latin.

Whoever corrected you for that was a grammar nazi. And “fora” is incredibly pedantic.

FWIW, the message board software, vBulletin, refers to the board by its name (“Straight Dope Message Board”) and each sub-forum (GQ, IMHO, etc.) as a Forum (see “Forum Jump” in the lower right hand corner).

There’s no “correct” rule here. This is English you’re talking about – already a very loose / ungoverned language – and it’s Internet English to boot. Nothing except popular usage determines its correctness.

Sorry, I misread your first post. It IS uncommon to call a thread a forum, not necessarily because it’s wrong but just because it’s too ambiguous and confusing.

I always thought a good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t put a word in italics, then treat it like an English word. There may have been many *fora *in the Roman empire, but there are many forums on the internet.

I was using it facetiously. I wouldn’t actually try to “correct” anyone about it.

I agree. I didn’t make it a point to call the thread a forum. Upon re-reading I agreed.
What I’m asking here is, where is the forum on a message board? I have trouble with General Questions being a forum, though only as a technicality, because there are so mant topics and so many unrelated discussions going on at the same time. But I accept, and embrace, the use of the term as a matter of “common usage”.

I will sacrifice a virgin to the great god Google and let it decide

Forums 2,440,000,000 hits
Fora 64,400,000 hits

Forums have it

I suggest we use that method to decide the next too-close-to-call presidential election in the US. It’ll be less embarassing than the method we used last time. :slight_smile:

But only by 4 to 1.
You’ll never get that in an election.