The moderators (short singular form: "mod") are users (or employees) of the forum who are granted access to the posts and threads of all members for the purpose of moderating discussion (similar to arbitration) and also keeping the forum clean (neutralizing spam and spambots etc.). Because they have access to all posts and threads in their area of responsibility, it is common for a friend of the site owner to be promoted to moderator for such a task. Moderators also answer users' concerns about the forum, general questions, as well as respond to specific complaints. They also can do anything to lend a helping hand to a user in need. Moderators themselves may have ranks: some may be given mod privileges over only a particular topic or section, while others (called 'global' or 'super') may be allowed access anywhere. Common privileges of moderators include: deleting, merging, moving, and splitting of posts and threads, locking, renaming, stickying of threads, banning, suspending, unsuspending, unbanning, warning the members, or adding, editing, removing the polls of threads. 'Junior Modding' or 'Backseat Modding' can refer negatively to the behavior of ordinary users who take a moderator-like tone in criticizing other members.
Essentially, it is the duty of the moderator to manage the day-to-day affairs of a forum or board as it applies to the stream of user contributions and interactions. The relative effectiveness of this user management directly impacts the quality of a forum in general, its appeal, and its usefulness as a community of interrelated users.
The administrators (short form: "admin") manage the technical details required for running the site. As such, they may promote (and demote) members to moderators, manage the rules, create sections and sub-sections, as well as perform any database operations (database backup etc.). Administrators often also act as moderators. Administrators may also make forum-wide announcements, or change the appearance (known as the skin) of a forum.
The term prune used extensively in administration panels is synonymous with delete or remove. The term comes from pruning, the practice of removing diseased, non-productive, or otherwise unwanted portions from a plant.
A post is a user submitted message enclosed into a block containing the user's details and the date and time it was submitted. Members are usually allowed to edit or delete their own posts. Posts are contained in threads, where they appear as boxes one after another. The first post starts the thread; this may be called the TS (thread starter) or OP (original post). Posts that follow in the thread are meant to continue discussion about that post, or respond to other replies; it is not uncommon for discussions to be derailed.
On Western forums, the classic way to show a member's own details (such as name and avatar) has been on the left side of the post, in a narrow column of fixed width, with the post controls located on the right, at the bottom of the main body, above the signature block. In more recent forum software implementations the Asian style of displaying the members' details above the post has been copied.
Posts have an internal limit usually measured in characters. Often one is required to have a message of minimum length of 10 characters. There is always an upper limit but it is rarely reached – most boards have it at either 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 or 50,000 characters.
Most forums keep track of a user's postcount. The postcount is a measurement of how many posts a certain user has made. Users with higher postcounts are often considered more reputable than users with lower postcounts. However, some forums have disabled postcounts in the hopes that doing so will reduce the emphasis on quantity over quality of information.
A thread (sometimes called a topic) is a collection of posts, usually displayed from oldest to latest, although this is typically configurable: options for newest to oldest and for a threaded view (a tree-like view applying logical reply structure before chronological order) can be available. A thread is defined by a title, an additional description that may summarize the intended discussion, and an opening or original post (common abbreviation 'OP', which can also mean original poster) which opens whatever dialogue or makes whatever announcement the poster wished. A thread can contain any number of posts, including multiple posts from the same members, even if they are one after the other.
A thread is contained in a forum, and may have an associated date which is taken as the date of the last post (options to order threads by other criteria are generally available). When a member posts in a thread it will jump to the top since it is the latest updated thread. Similarly, other threads will jump in front of it when they receive posts. When a member posts in a thread for no reason but to have it go to the top, it is referred to as a bump or bumping. Threads which are important but rarely receive posts are stickyed (or, in some software, 'pinned'). A sticky thread will always appear in front of normal threads, often in its own section.
A thread's popularity is measured on forums in reply (total posts minus one – the opening post) counts. Some forums also track page views. Threads meeting a set number of posts or a set number of views may receive a designation such as "hot thread" and be displayed with a different icon compared to others threads. This icon may stand out more to emphasize the thread.