Bulletin Boards

    When people refer to online bulletin boards today, they are more than likely referring to message boards rather than true bulletin boards. In the 1970s, people would access online bulletin boards by dialing up through a modem. They could then post and read messages from other users. In 1979, Usenet came about, which was like large collections of bulletin boards.

    Today, most people are more comfortable using a web browser than using special software to dial into newsgroups or bulletin boards. Webmasters in the 1990s wanted to have their own discussion groups on their own websites, so message board software was born. The difference between message boards and newsgroups is that message boards belong to a specific website, while newsgroups don't belong to anyone and they don't reside on any one computer.

    Keeping up with Information

    Because news servers and ISPs are constantly updating the messages on their newsgroups, it can be hard to keep up with them. Google has archives of newsgroup messages dating back to 1995. You can easily search messages or read current ones through your web browser.

    Message boards (also called discussion boards) have several advantages over chat rooms and email lists too. Chat rooms often move too quickly to absorb the information and you can't go back and search it once the chat is over. Mailing lists deliver tons of information but you have to open and read all the messages in order to keep up with the discussions.