Forum OP Tips: How to Ask a Question Efficiently in a TechNet/MSDN Forum

Forum OP Tips: How to Ask a Question Efficiently in a TechNet/MSDN Forum

This article is written for Forum Original Posters (OPs). Online problem solving can be relatively time consuming because it may demand several messages back and forth to fully understand the symptom and background, especially at the very beginning. Here are a few suggestions that help you get the best answer to your question as quickly as possible. 


 

When You Ask

  1. Select a good title that summarizes your technology and the specific problem you have. It will be one of the main driving forces for others to want to actually read your item. Choosing a poorly-formatted title will drive people away, thinking that since the title is so poorly written, the information and the question within the thread is also poorly written. Make sure your title mentions your technology/UI, problem, and maybe some of your configuration/system info. For example, if it's an issue in the Import window of Visual Studio, your title should make that clear. I don't know how many times I've had to ask people about what language they're coding in and more questions about what software and hardware they're using. That should be in the title and then in detail in the description.

  2. Provide all the necessary information in your initial post. The following information would be very helpful:

    • Symptom description: Detailed description of the problem. If you receive any error messages, please let us know the exact error WORD BY WORD.
    • Environment: The system environment, such as your OS/application version, your network topology, and your domain environment, etc.
    • Any recent relevant configuration change(s): If the issue started to occur after installing any application/updates or changing the configuration, please let us know.
    • Any additional information. Tell what you have done prior to asking your question. This will help us understand that you've done so far.
  3. Write clearly. Avoiding spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Read through your original post to make sure it can be easily read by others. Don't type IN ALL CAPS, which in most cases is read as shouting and considered rude.
    • If possible, post in a forum specific to your native language. If you speak French, for instance, try to post in the French forums. If you cannot find a language-specific forum, it's perfectly fine to post in the English forum, but you might want to mention that English is not your native language.  
  4. Stay in the same thread. Do not refer to a post you made last year (use the same thread or update the current thread with the old information), and above all, please come back. There are hundreds and thousands of posts where we have seen people given great and wonderfully long answers, and yet there's no reply from the original poster.
  5. Be courteous enough to reply, even if it's to say, "I've given up" or "Thanks that worked". (This helps the whole community when you do this, and it makes the people who donate time feel appreciated.)

When Answered

Give Positive Feedback. Once you've received a correct answer to your question, either from a Microsoft employee, an MVP, or the community in general, please do the following:

  1. Reply and let us know whether the issue or question has been answered.
  2. If possible, mark the solution as answered: This step is important, since it lets other people benefit from your posts.
  3. If any replies are helpful (regardless of whether or not they are the answer), please Vote them as Helpful (the arrow button on the left of each post).        
  4. If you find the answer yourself, please either provide the answer, or a link to the answer. Don't just say "I fixed it myself". Others may come searching for the answer later. Then mark your answer.

 



Credit

This was originally written by Arthur_Li in this forum thread.
   

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Comments
  • Good change. Thanks, FZB!

  • Good point (about "If you find the answer yourself"), Karl. Thanks!

  • How do you ask a question that not only appears intelligent but also results in an answer that satisfies the knowledge you are seeking? There are two elements that you need to be concerned about in asking questions. Those elements are process and outcomes. The two side of the process element is perspective questions and evaluative questions. The outcome elements involve knowledge questions and action questions. The best questions involve both process and outcome elements in the question.

    Here are some tips for asking more open-minded and informed questions that will help not only you but others to comprehend information placed before you, as well as extracting more information useful to you.

  • This article should be published in forums say every quarter or a month. It will help the new comers and this way a standard protocol will be set which will help all!!!!!!

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