One of my jobs here is to manage MSDN Forums, and I manage a lot of them, over 70 at this point.  I have been using and managing threaded conversation properties for a long time, for instance I was the guy who deleted all the Spam from the newsgroups here for a couple of years.  I also post in several different Forums for my personal interests outside of work, and it has been a decided area of study of mine for many years now.  So, having now established my credibility on the subject, here’s some things that you should remember when posting:

1.       Be courteous – people who are answering your post do not have to – this goes for MSFT Employees, MVPs, and anyone else that is hanging out and answering questions.  In any Forum, there is generally not a “staff” who answers, it is Community based support.  If you are rude, you will not get an answer as easily as if you are courteous and thankful.

2.       Please don’t use all caps!  This, in the Internet world, is “screaming” and not only is it rude, it says something else about you as a poster.  It means you do not respect or care about the “etiquette” of the Forum, and this refers to #1 above.

3.       Be descriptive – the more detail you give, the better the chance you have of getting an answer.  Include things such as the OS you are using, what version of the product you are using, error messages you might be getting, and exactly what you are trying to do.  This is not easy sometimes, as you have all the context of your project in your head 24/7, but we don’t, so help us to help you as much as possible.

4.       Search before you post – if you are posting a question that is answered in a FAQ, or has also been answered in the Forum recently, that is also quite “rude”, see #1 above.  You are more likely to get help if you have showed that you have put some effort into finding a solution.  Plus, it will mean you don’t have the initial issues in a problem, and your issue will actually get solved more quickly because the question you do post will be several steps down the line toward the final solution.

5.       If someone answers your post – mark it as an answer, give points to the answerer, say Thank You, etc.  When you come back, people will be more inclined to answer your question again, as they will look you up and see you are one of the Good Guys.  This also keeps the regular Forums denizens from having to do maintenance work in the Forums and allows them more time to answer questions – like yours!

6.       Try and post in the correct Forum - if you can at least get close to the topic area, we can spend less time re-routing your post and more time answering questions.  Blindly dumping a post in the wrong Forum does nobody any good, and will result in a much lower chance of you getting the answer you need.

7.       Ask one question only per thread – this is a suggestion from an old friend, Cor Ligthert, who left a comment to this post.  If you have multiple questions, post them in multiple threads, so that the folks who answer a lot of questions can answer them concisely.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you will not only increase the chances of you getting an answer to your question, but you will also be helping everyone else in the Forum.  And, if you know the answer to something you see while waiting for an answer, why not take the “next step” and answer a question yourself?