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There are a variety of forum types.  Clicking on the help button next to the "Forum type" setting shows a brief overview of each. From the Moodle documentation:

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titleMoodle Forum Types

There are five different types of Moodle Forums:

  • A Single Simple Discussion: A single discussion topic in which everyone can reply to (cannot be used with separate groups).
  • Each person posts one discussion: Each student can post exactly one new discussion topic, which everyone can then reply to.
  • Q and A Forum: Students must first post their perspectives before viewing other students’ posts.
  • Standard Forum Displayed in a Blog-like Format: An open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at anytime, and in which discussion topics are displayed on one page with “Discuss this topic” links.
  • Standard Forum for General Use (Default): An open forum where anyone can start a new discussion at any time.


Subscriptions

Subscribing to a forum means that you will receive an email every time there is a new post to the forum.  Instructors can change the default behavior of subscriptions to a variety of settings.  From the Moodle documentation:

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titleMoodle Forum Subscriptions
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There are 4 subscription mode options:

  • Optional subscription - Participants can choose whether to be subscribed
  • Forced subscription - Everyone is subscribed and cannot unsubscribe
  • Auto subscription - Everyone is subscribed initially but can choose to unsubscribe at any time
  • Subscription disabled - Subscriptions are not allowed

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