Public Program Model 5: Web-Based Discussion Forum

Web-Based Discussion Forum


The web-based discussion forum is a multimedia resource intended to promote civil communication among participants.


The web-based discussion forum may be structured around a long-term agenda that includes online discussions and solicited participant contributions, such as videos, articles, or other resources that address the issues being discussed. The web-based discussion forum is not a single event-based program, but a changing, interactive resource. The website itself therefore will be a lasting resource. It might also include current news, topics for debate, a calendar of events to attend, reading lists, links to useful resources, and multimedia content such as links to relevant podcasts or videos.

Target Audience

A target audience for the web-based discussion forum is the general public. However, organizers might partner with educators or organization leaders to form a core audience.

Site Ideas

Since the web-based discussion forum resides online, the “site” must be a reliable web host. Depending on your plans, the site might require special software, applications, or maintenance. Partner organizations may be able to assist with technical needs. It is most important to remember that throughout the web-based forum, discussion must be monitored to ensure productive dialogue among participants.

Continuing the Discussion

The web-based discussion forum model relies on an engaged audience willing to interact online by responding to discussants, posing questions as appropriate, and offering commentary or reaction. Before the web-based discussion forum goes live, consider using a website, email, or social media outlets to pose key questions to potential participants or publicize relevant hashtags. During the program, invite contributions from users and provide them with new or updated content to keep the page fresh. Monitor web traffic statistics and user-generated content.


Civility and Free Expression in a Constitutional Democracy is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities under the Bridging Cultures initiative. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Bar Association, or any of its program partners.