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MSDN Forums SharePoint Task Force – A Call to Arms!

Posted by Clayton Cobb on August 16, 2010


**As a reminder and point of emphasis, this is not just about sheer numbers, but rather it is about increasing the quality of the forums for everyone involved, including ourselves. If we work hard, then the numbers will come, but we are not looking to purely add posts to the forum. We only want to see meaningful, well thought out responses that help the online community – both the thread creators and the rest of us who read the threads. Thank you!

**1st milestone update on 9/1/2010. It’s only been 2 weeks, but I’m doing a pulse check to see how we’re doing. I think the results are amazing so far!

**2nd milestone update on 11/7/2010. It has now been just under 3 months, and the impact has been huge. There have been more answered threads in the last 3 months than in all previous months combined before we started the Task Force. It’s absolutely not just due to the Task Force, but I believe we have helped spark a major upswing in quantity AND quality of responses…

Special Kudos to these Task Force members:

  • Steve Curran, Corey Roth, Dave Hunter, Alpesh Nakar, Spence Harbar, John Ross, John Ferringer, Wictor Wilen, and Todd Wilder for all busting their tails to rack up over 500 points (honorable mention to Roland White for 499!).

In 3 months of work, here is the impact so far:

  • Each of the 4 SP2010 forums have an increased answer rate of over 10 percentage points with SPD/InfoPath rising over 15 percentage points
  • All 4 SP2010 forums are over 50% in answer ratio when none were over 45% when we started. 2 of the 4 are almost up to 60% overall.
  • Each SP2010 forum has had a significant decrease in # of threads with no replies. The Visual Studio forum has dropped the most – by 5.63 percentage points – just above SPD/InfoPath at 5.42 percentage points. None of the forums are above 12% now.
  • 6004 new threads have been posted and 4552 threads have been answered for an answer rate of 75.82%
  • 4552 answers in 3 months equals 53.4% of the total answers given EVER in the 2010 forums and amounts to 114.7% of all answered threads prior to the formation of the Task Force
  • Task Force members contributed 3420 posts and 1331 answers (38.9% answer ratio). This accounts for 29.2% of all answers during this timeframe
  • Despite 6004 new threads being posted, the total # of threads with no replies has only gone up by 230 (3.8%)
  • Answer rates for all SP2010 forums are above 72% during this span with Visual Studio leading the way at 81.4% followed by SPD/InfoPath at 78.8%

Due to lack of participation, the Task Force member list was pared down considerably. Anyone with less than 10 posts over the last 3 months was removed, though their contributions are appreciated. It is just very time-consuming to track so many people, so I’ve narrowed it down to so, since some are on the bubble, and I’d like to see continuous contributions.

We still have a long way to go, so let’s keep it up. I hope those who signed up and haven’t started yet are ready to get cranking, and I hope we get more all-stars to join – many are already doing it on their own, so I hope they decide to join the list. Keep rockin!

Ok, folks, the SharePoint forums at MSDN/TechNet seriously need our help. We have an amazing community that gives and gives through user groups, SharePoint Saturday events, major conferences, tons of blogs, tons of books, articles, newsletters, etc., but we have an incredible resource right in front of us that needs a lot more attention. Microsoft provides a set of forums for the entire world to benefit from, and there is an entire area devoted just to SharePoint. There is a pre-2010 SharePoint forum with 17 sub-forums, and there is a 2010 SharePoint forum with 4 sub-forums. These areas provide immeasurable amounts of valuable information to people worldwide who need to either learn about SharePoint or get a question answered. Unfortunately, though, our answer rate in the SharePoint forums pales in comparison to almost every other product category. We have thousands upon thousands of questions that have gone without a single reply and many thousands more without correct answers. The product team and the moderator team do their best to keep pace, but they can’t do it without us. We, the community leaders, community givers, and MVPs are the real people who drive this train, but there aren’t currently enough of us.

That’s why this is a call to arms. I know that not everyone can spend every day on the forums answering questions, but if all of us band together to give a little more effort than we have in the past, then it will make a huge difference. We have the 3rd-largest MVP community, but we have one of the worst answer ratios. I’m ready to change that, but I need help. I need help from people who are already recognized experts – do you realize how exciting it is for a new person to see their question get answered by a 5-time MVP who also authored the book in their cabinet? I need help from people who don’t even realize they can help – if you do SharePoint for a living and are the expert to your client, then I guarantee you have knowledge to share that someone else doesn’t yet have. I need help from people who spend tons of time contributing to the community in other ways but haven’t considered the forums to be a valuable place to spend time – I’m telling you that this is very important, and it will be very rewarding to you and the people you help.

Now, here is the empirical data – just showing the 2010 forums for now – and here is our Task Force! We have a nice mix of wily veterans, occasional dabblers, and noobs. J

 

  

8/15/10

11/7/10

Name

Points

Posts

Answers

%

Points

Posts

Answers

%

Steve Curran

17901

2741

1119

40.8%

1790

237

116

48.9%

Corey Roth

3769

692

220

31.8%

1427

214

94

43.9%

Dave Hunter

17307

2817

1051

37.3%

1404

190

87

45.8%

Alpesh Nakar

3836

915

174

19.0%

989

166

61

36.7%

Spence Harbar

651

95

39

41.1%

950

170

55

32.4%

John Ross

8553

1802

430

23.9%

920

122

56

45.9%

John Ferringer

5412

686

363

52.9%

743

71

54

76.1%

Wictor Wilén

2904

461

179

38.8%

556

69

39

56.5%

Todd Wilder

897

203

40

19.7%

507

74

31

41.9%

Roland White

0

0

0

0.0%

499

97

26

26.8%

Randy Drisgill

3627

660

217

32.9%

389

45

26

57.8%

Chakkaradeep Chandran

3715

838

187

22.3%

386

55

24

43.6%

Sean Wallbridge

12

6

0

0.0%

250

26

18

69.2%

Rob Wilson

248

50

13

26.0%

250

32

19

59.4%

Brian Merrifield

8

6

0

0.0%

249

41

14

34.1%

Moonis Tahir

7729

1302

510

39.2%

223

27

17

63.0%

Eli Van Eenwyk

1710

307

102

33.2%

168

24

10

41.7%

Wes Preston

474

84

26

31.0%

163

19

12

63.2%

Nigel Price

83

95

5

5.3%

146

41

6

14.6%

Rajesh Sitaraman

3394

595

196

32.9%

124

12

10

83.3%

Brian T. Jackett

7

1

0

0.0%

118

24

7

29.2%

Frode Aarebrot

697

123

45

36.6%

88

11

7

63.6%

Johnny Tordgeman

8

33

1

3.0%

81

18

4

22.2%

Chris Schwab

538

80

30

37.5%

79

13

4

30.8%

Shannon Bray

5701

951

350

36.8%

70

20

3

15.0%

Clayton Cobb

27150

5500

1419

25.8%

9087

1602

531

33.1%

         

21656

3420

1331

38.9%

 

Forum

Status

8/15/10

8/15/10

11/7/10

11/7/10

11/7/10

11/7/10

General

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

3529

  

5785

  

2256

  

  

Unanswered

2004

  

2523

  

519

  

  

Answered

1464

42.21%

3165

55.64%

1701

76.62%

  

No Replies

481

13.87%

601

10.57%

120

5.41%

Setup / Admin

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

2833

  

4427

  

1594

  

  

Unanswered

1668

  

2100

  

432

  

  

Answered

1130

40.39%

2267

51.91%

1137

72.47%

  

No Replies

418

14.94%

479

10.97%

61

3.89%

SPD / InfoPath

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

1259

  

2245

  

986

  

  

Unanswered

709

  

919

  

210

  

  

Answered

543

43.37%

1323

59.01%

780

78.79%

  

No Replies

184

14.70%

208

9.28%

24

2.42%

Dev

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Threads

1873

  

3041

  

1168

  

  

Unanswered

1027

  

1240

  

213

  

  

Answered

832

44.76%

1766

58.75%

934

81.43%

  

No Replies

315

16.94%

340

11.31%

25

2.18%

       

Diff Answers

4552

53.4%

       

Diff No Replies

230

3.8%

 

SharePoint 2010 just recently released, so there are tons of questions flooding in, but there aren’t many people answering yet. Yes, I know that it’s new, so not as many people know it yet, but I also know that there are many of you out there working with 2010 as much as possible, so I bet you know the answer to a lot of these questions. The goal is two-fold:

  • Decrease the “No Replies” to under 10% in each sub-forum
  • Increase the Answer ratios to 60% in each sub-forum

Both goals are easily attainable. We can start by going back through all threads with no replies by going to the individual sub-forum and clicking the No Replies filter at the top. Go through ALL of these to find ones you can answer, but don’t just reply for the sake of replying. Please provide valuable information or ask questions to further clarify the question in case it wasn’t clear. This will help us knock down the non-replied threads in a hurry. I will update the numbers every 2 months to show how we’re progressing. The 2nd goal is not quite as easy, but it’s still very doable. To get this number up, it requires that we truly spend time providing or FINDING the right answer. There are many times where I don’t know the answer off-hand, but I’m able to go into one of my environments to test and verify, then I give an answer. For InfoPath questions, I luckily have access to the product team for getting tough questions answered, but I know some of you have great connections with the SharePoint product team and/or with other extremely knowledgeable people who can help get these questions answered more effectively. Your help is of vital importance…

 

So, what do we do? I need volunteers. Either send me a DM to @Warrtalon, or if I’m not following you yet, send a Tweet to the #SPTF hashtag that mentions me and your desire to join up. I will follow you to get your info and add you to the list. You can also click on my Contact page to email me directly. As people join, I will take a snapshot of their forum participation to date so that I can do cross-checks later. However, this is not about individual goals or thresholds. This is about the forum itself and us working as a team to make it better. It’s up to us to make this happen…

 

Thank you all!

Clayton Cobb

SharePoint Architect & InfoPath MVP

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19 Responses to “MSDN Forums SharePoint Task Force – A Call to Arms!”

  1. ashrafhossain said

    Hi Clayton,
    Thanks for such an endeavor.I have started sharing my little knowledge on SharePoint 2010 and hope to answer as much as i can during the coming days.

    Regards,
    Ashraf

  2. Alpesh said

    I am in 😉

  3. Clayton Cobb said

    Thanks, guys, let’s rock this.

  4. I’m in as well!

  5. […] Ok, folks, the SharePoint forums at MSDN/TechNet seriously need our help. We have an amazing community that gives and gives through user groups, SharePoint Saturday events, major conferences, tons of blogs, tons of books, articles, newsletters, etc., but we have an incredible resource right in front of us that needs a lot more attention. Microsoft provides a set of forums for the entire world to benefit from, and there is an entire area devoted j … Read More […]

  6. Hey Clayton,

    I will visit the forums more regularly as I’ve dropped off the radar for a few months.

    Points Posts Answers
    —— —– ——-
    17,307 2817 1051

    Dave Hunter
    SharePoint MVP

  7. There is a very logical reason why posts get unanswered more in SharePoint forums than others. Our community readers are more sophistiated and the questions are just that much harder. A lot of the forums concentrate on one product and it’s very focused. Have you seen SharePoint? It may be one product but it covers just about everything, connects to just about everything, can be used to do just about everything, and is a VERY broad topic. The reason you’re not finding answers is because the community raises some very legitimate questions that are hard to answer without diving deep into the code to look for the expressed piece of functionality. I’ve answered some in the past that required me to reflect the assembly and trace through it to provide a response. It took me an hour to answer that one. These kinds of questions while simple to ask are very time consuming to answer. I’m thinking they don’t get answered because we don’t have that kind of time. You should peruse some of the other product forums and take an inventory of their kinds of questions. We only get like 10% that are easy — something you could look up yourself, really.
    Clayton I’m glad you’re spearheading this but it’s not going to be fixed overnight. The product team has done loads of work to fill in missing documentation but the SharePoint application is so broad, all the nooks and crannies are being discovered by our readers and fellow developers and it’s going to take time to bridge those gaps.

    • Clayton Cobb said

      Brian, I lend credence to your comments and know full well that SharePoint is a completely different beast, but I don’t think the complexity of the questions is the only reason for our dearth of answers. You’re right that it won’t be fixed overnight – nothing good ever is. However, with increased effort and awareness, we can make huge improvements, and that’s the goal.

  8. Clayton, I am in there everyday. So it has always been important and I agree with your assesment. I have to agree with Brian, the questions have been much more difficult of late, and the time requirements to give meaningful responses is increasing. So more help is indeed needed.

    • Clayton Cobb said

      Steve, thanks for your strong efforts and thanks for joining in. We won’t overcome every question, but we can overcome much more than in the past with more help. Please send me your MSDN profile link. Thanks!

  9. Ok, I will devote some time weekly to get back on the horse agian. I started for a bit, but I didnt understand how to use it in terms of what constituted an answer; got my hands slapped and they went and hid in the corner. None the less, i understand the importance and Im back in the game.

    • Clayton Cobb said

      Fabian, I understand what you mean. There are 2 sides to this coin that require effort – users providing answers and moderators marking answers when the thread originator doesn’t return or doesn’t understand the system. I’m a moderator in one of the 4 SP2010 forums and am trying to get added to the other 3. We also have some current non-MSFT moderators who have joined the Task Force, and it will be incumbent upon them to work hard at making sure good answers are rewarded. With do need effort on both sides to be effective and to keep users motivated.

    • Fabian —

      Just a piece of advice on how to tread properly in the forums… never submit one of your own posts as an answer, even if its clearly the (or an) answer. Although most people may do that with the best of intentions, the moderators frown upon that (rightly) because it can also be a way for people to game the system and gain points that they may not deserve. It often frustrates me how that message gets delivered sometimes, but the reasoning behind it is valid.

      In general, proposing other contributor’s posts as answers (ONLY when valid, of course), is just as important to what Clayton is talking about as submitting your own responses. The moderators can’t be everywhere at once and proposing a submission as an answer helps draw attention to a thread and make it easier for a moderator to close it out as answered, which is the goal here. Often the people submitting the questions forget to make that update to their threads once they’re done, so it falls to the moderators. If you propose a response as an answer, it can go just as far in helping the metric Clayton’s called out here as a response itself does.

      (Just my two cents)

      John

  10. Shereen said

    Hey all, I’m looking forward to trying my hand at helping out in the forums. I’ve already begun trying to answer some of the dev related questions for 2007. What I don’t understand, however, is why often times, someone will post a solution, and then hours later, someone will post the exact same thing? Is this all a points scheme for some people? Or is it a case of not reading any of the previous responses?

    • Clayton Cobb said

      Shereen, hopefully that is not too common. I have answered a ton of posts, but I don’t often see that occur. When I do see it, it’s usually just a matter of the person not reading through the whole thread first. I’m sure there are cases of people trying to hoarde points, but I don’t think it’s that common. If you see it happen blatantly, let me know and send me the link

  11. Rajesh.Sitaraman said

    Count me too.

  12. I used to be on and off in Forums, I will try to spend atleast few hours everyday from today onwards.

  13. CuffyS said

    Here goes:

    I’m trying to help a lawyer develop a divorce data entry form that will be emailed to clients. When it comes back, it can be merged into a Word document which will create the divorce decree documents.

    I started out creating it in Excel, and building the mother of all mail merges. However, because of DDE link issues, could never figure out how to supress the zeros that showed up in Word (resulting from a null or blank value in the Excel spreadsheet).

    After lots of research, I discovered this was because in Excel, a cell can be one of many things, date, number, text, etc. etc. and that because of this, I would never get my zeroes supressed.

    Scrapped the Excel, translated it (easily and beautifully, I may add) into an InfoPath form, where I was able to assign each cell as text, date, currency, etc. Now when I export it to Excel, and import it into the Word document, I’ve solved my null/zero problem.

    However, I now have two problems that I didn’t have in Excel.

    The first is that I’m having to recreate a pull-down table in several questions. An example is that I have four questins asking about how the parents will split tuition of high school. (Mother %, Father% High School and Mother % Father% College). Since I don’t know how to do this, I created a unique lookup box in each question that has the values (10/20/30/40/50/60/70/80/90/100%). Not a problem doing all the lengthy typing, but I feel like there was probably a better way to do this.

    The second problem is that I need to collect similar data in different ways. I want to make the data entry form idiot proof for the end user. Thus, once they enter their names – Wife First, Middle, Last, Maiden and Husband First, Middle, Last, Generation, I then want to have a pulldown of those names later in the document. For example when I ask “Who is the Defendent” and “Who is the Plaintiff” I’d like to have a pull down that gives me a choice of Wife First Last or Husband First Last Generation.

    I know enough to know that I don’t know nuthin – help!

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