"An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived. Also, depending on the access level of a user and/or the forum set-up, a posted message might need to be approved by a moderator before it becomes visible.
Forums have a specific set of jargon associated with them; e.g. A single conversation is called a 'thread'.
A forum is hierarchical or tree-like in structure: a forum can contain a number of subforums, each of which may have several topics. Within a forum's topic, each new discussion started is called a thread, and can be replied to by as many people as wish to.
Depending on the forum set-up, users can be anonymous or have to register with the forum and then subsequently log in in order to post messages. Usually users do not have to log in to read existing messages."
Source and more information: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum
In the process of learning how to set up and make your own investment choices, chances are that any question you may have has already been asked and answered. And chances are, the question and answer are in a forum. Learning how to search a forum for the answers you seek is key.
It's also a great place to bounce ideas off people, get the 'pulse' of the retail investment world (a retail investor = you), and get new ideas.
These people are people like you. And don't think for a second they are entirely random. Many of the users have been posting for years and have racked up thousands of posts. After spending time reading the posts you will quickly learn who the forum 'pillars of the community' (and who the crazies are). It really is a community.
The below websites are the best websites with on-line forums for Canadian investors.
This is my favourite forum and has existed at least since 2005.
Source: Financial Webring Forum main page
This forum started in April 2009 I believe and I am visiting it more and more frequently.
MoneySense used to have a forum, and indeed the link still exists on their website, but the link takes you to an error message that says 'There has been a serious error loading the forum'. Not good! I have checked this a few times over the past few weeks. I never found the investor sections of this forum to be as active as the above two so I don't think this is any great loss.
Update (Sept 7, 2011) - The link seems to be active again. Going to the MoneySense website and clicking on Forums (near the top right) takes you there. You can also get there by going to the Canadian Business website and clicking on Discussions (also near the top right corner).
Stockhouse actually calls their forum a board, or 'bullboard' to be exact. In the case of stockhouse, the board is ticker based, which means that you first use the search tools (at the top of the web page) to find the stock you are interested in, and then you can click on the bullboard link for that particular stock. I find the comments are generally terse and less helpful than what can be found in the first two forums I mentioned.
Example of 'bullboard' for Bank of Montreal: http://www.stockhouse.com/Bullboards/SymbolList.aspx?s=BMO&t=LIST