Home > Articles

Forums vs. Blogs: A Feature Show-Down

📄 Contents

  1. Forum Software: First and Not So Fab
  2. Blog Software
  3. Intersections
What's the difference between a forum and a blog? That features between each intersect is undeniable, but their differences in terms of historical, social, and use-related application make it clear that they are distinct types of software. In this article, Molly E. Holzschlag examines the differences, the similarities, and proposes some ideas about how both types of software can be improved by adding features inspired by the other.
Like this article? We recommend

The question comes up time and time again: What's the difference between forums and blogs? At first glance they might seem the same thing, both technically and socially. But at final glance, although forum software and blogs end up sharing a great many features, there are unique differences between them.

Forum Software: First and Not So Fab

Forum software for the Web has been around for just about as long as the Web. In fact, such software in its essence easily predates the Web by many years. BBSs and forums were run on a variety of standalone computers, Internet networks, and commercial networks such as the long-retired GEnie. Other familiar faces on that playing field included CompuServe, Delphi and Prodigy, MSN, and, of course, AOL.

All these services provide (or provided) some type of forum technology. On the proprietary services, especially, the technology worked well enough to allow for the formation of very strong communities that have held together despite massive changes to the way people access shared information online. So the first thing to bear in mind is that forums were always created to be forums, places in which people came to very specifically interact with groups of people sharing similar interests. This fact gives rise to a number of technical and social differences that have resulted as each type of application evolved.

Technical Aspects of Forum Software

It wasn't a huge step to think that we'd want to move what was a very successful technical and social success to the growing interest in the Web itself. The BBSs and forums of the pre-Web days were a natural offering for the Web, at least conceptually. When it came to actual implementation, though, things became a bit more challenging.

As you are probably aware, creating Web applications in 2005 is no easy task. Imagine trying to build forum software for the Web of 1995? It wasn't easy, but many of us worked hard to figure it out. During my time at the Microsoft Network, I worked on a team that was responsible for first building the proprietary forum system for MSN. We then scrapped it to make the move to the hottest gig in town: the Web. Making this move was not only technically challenging, but we had to figure out ways to successfully get our community members transferred over to the new Web-based system, which frankly wasn't as elegant. We pulled it off somehow, but to say that the Web-based forum system was clumsy in comparison to non-Web systems would be an understatement.

Once some semblance of more robust forum software became widespread, the term "community" became the big buzz. Popular Web forums remain in place today. A classic example is Slashdot, and there are many others that have become extraordinarily effective and successful.

But forum software is distinct in many ways from blog software. Some of the features might overlap, but out of the box, forum software offers features that blogging software requires advanced customization to attain.

Some of the built-in features of forum software include the following:

  • Security. Authorization systems and other means of keeping the forum secure is a mainstay feature of forum software. Security for blogging software often relies on how the blogs are installed, how the servers they run on are configured, and whether any additional security must be customized to the individual scenario.
  • Ability to create unlimited forums with ease. You can create unlimited forums with most forum software. Blogging utilities often limit the number of blogs you can create, or it takes a little bit of server "fu" to be able to use blogging software in this fashion.
  • Very robust formatting options. Forums typically support a wide range of HTML formatting within posts. Although blogs also support this to a certain degree, the support is not as robust, nor is it meant to be.
  • Full-bodied administrative controls. Forum software is created with the understanding in mind that some form of moderation will be required. To that end, forum software tends to offer far richer features to its moderators: ability to easily create user groups, to control user access to different levels of the forum, to control and limit the way posts are handled by different access levels, and to easily lock out problem posters. Although blog software could certainly benefit from having more robust controls for this, they don't at this time.
  • More user controls. Unlike blogs, forums expect to have a lot of different users. To that end, there are all kinds of options for users that make the forum experience more full. From member profile pages to private messaging, users have a lot more to do on forums than they might on a blog.
  • More post features. Probably the defining difference between forums and blogs is that forums can be read linearly, or in a threaded view—and this option is rarely found in blogging comments, where comments are typically logged in backward chronological order only.

There are other differences, too, and many of them will depend on your forum software's feature list. If you're in the market for a forum, be sure to study the feature lists to make the best selections for your particular needs. Note also that many Web site providers offer certain forum software as part of your overall package.

Social Constructs within Forums

The other fundamental difference between forums and blogs is that forums are different social constructs than blogs.

Forums are specifically used for some type of community and are typically founded around a specific topic or community group such as crafts or textile artists.

Although there may be a leader or moderator, or even several moderators, that moderator is there to help ensure that questions get answered, that "troll" behavior (disruptive or negative posting) is kept to a minimum, that technical issues with the forum are managed, and that the conversations stay on topic and lively.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020