New thread type: Question, General Discussion, and one more? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I would like to ask, if it is possible to add third category to thread types, in order to ensure some thread flow for specific "Teach Me" threads. It is because if you are charged with "Problem solution" or "Debug" energy from posting at typical "I have this code and this throws error... please ... thanks", you cannot follow whole thread flow, where someone wants to understand specific branch of programming, and usually I don't read whole debugging threads, I only fly through all posts to complete some image of solution state. If there was new category, it would inform posters, that there is someone doing steps in understanding, and every post has some place in this learn process. I am talking in reaction to this Classes and Inheritance principles thread. It is not some "who could damn spoil me! while I am that important speaker" croaking. It is obvious, that if someone gets first post on such "Teach me" request, and if he consider it interesting to continue like that, that there specific flow begin to evolve, much different to classical threads, where it is enough to ignore other speakers until they have not solution itself. This specificity musn't be recognized without special flag, because bug helping is "on the fly job".

    Also I am not addressing this to someone in sample threads with some rebruking, while first thread is posted only for flow specificity demonstration, and second, containing no another response from iniciator, cannot be considered to be disrupted in any way. I would only invited to have option to inform about such character of your threads - in order all visitors to become more patient in reading all posts passed, and coherent, readable and more attentive to another "teachers" in reactions.

    I hope you not consider this post to be funny any way.

    Regards, Matt
    find me only here
    Saturday, November 8, 2008 9:14 PM

All replies

  • Meh, one down-vote from me.  Forums are not a good vehicle to teach someone the basics.  Books are, they take 400+ pages.  Schools are, they take 3+ years.  Nothing that could fit in the space of a forum thread.  It is important that a forum is interesting for anyone to ask a question.  And for anyone willing to contribute an answer.  A forum overran by "how do I use a multi-dimensional array" questions would quickly die.

    If you have trouble following a particular thread, don't hesitate to start your own.  If you show some evidence of having done the research, you'll get lots of help.  If it is clear you didn't, expect a "visit your local library and get lost" answer.

    Hans Passant.
    Saturday, November 8, 2008 11:08 PM
  •  Thanks for your opinion. Ok, it is truth, that such threads as that second linked are maximally sporadic. But for guess I will set 0:1 to vote counter and wait for another opinions :) Hard to give up.
    Sunday, November 9, 2008 12:12 AM
  • > I hope you not consider this post to be funny any way.
    I don't see how anyone can regard for example this

    "Also I am not addressing this to someone in sample threads with some rebruking, while first thread is posted only for flow specificity demonstration, and second, containing no another response from iniciator, cannot be considered to be disrupted in any way."

    as funny.


    I share Hans's opinion. Books (and sitting down with a computer - preferably with a book) are much the better way to learn. Besides, any thread that asks any question could potentially be a "teach me" thread - how would anone be able to tell the difference ? We have enough problems now when there are only two thread types.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008 12:26 PM
  • I have an even better idea. Just one class of post.

    As it is, 90% of the time General Discussion is selected in error, preventing marking responses as answers, and discouraging responders from contributing.

    The forums need to be simpler, not more complicated, IMHO.

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Sunday, November 9, 2008 1:07 PM
  • I am glad it has even impact, that it is shows thread classes as not sufficient in some light.
    Thanks for ideas.

    Regards, Matej
    Sunday, November 9, 2008 4:38 PM
  • Thanks for the feedback. Since we’re on the topic of whether or not new thread types make sense, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and see what you think. You’re the experts, so please correct me if I’ve got this wrong.

    As we consider whether we need more or less thread types, I think about what people are trying to use forums for today and what problems they face.

    It seems to me that one problem is that the question and discussion thread types aren’t distinct enough. Many users don’t mark a reply as the answer, so moderators need to decide if they will wait or mark an answer and spend time doing so. If a question thread was less a chronological discussion with answers layered on top, and more a question followed by answers to it, it might be more useful.

    Another area that forums are used today is to give product teams feedback (like this one for the forums). Questions/Discussion threads don’t do a good job of this because for feedback you really want to comment, edit, and vote on feedback and then see how the Microsoft team responds.

    Finally, a 4th thread type I’ve seen some limited need for is information sharing. This is similar to what konikula suggested in this thread. However, rather than being initiated by a user asking for help learning a topic, it would be initiated by someone (or multiple people) in the forum who wanted to share information on a topic. For example, forum moderators might want to maintain a forum FAQ in this thread type or a wiki page.

    Do you think these 4 thread types make sense? Would the added complexity of having more options be outweighed by the good of having thread types that more closely supported to what you were trying to use them for? Here’s a summary:

    1. Ask Question about…Question, with answers, ordered by which is best
    2. Start a Discussion about…  Typical general discussion today, chronological and potentially threaded
    3. Give Feedback about… Everyone votes on feedback ideas, Microsoft product teams reply and give status on feedback they’re incorporating.
    4. Share Information about… Forum FAQ, Wiki post, etc… could be limited to moderators, MVPs, others?...

    I’d appreciate your thoughts


    Forums Product Planner, Andrew.Brenner at Microsoft.com
    Monday, November 10, 2008 4:23 PM
  • As I don't want to spend the majority of my day changing thread types, the idea of four thread types sends shivers up my back.

    When - as now often happens - people post technical questions to forums that say in their title "this forum is not for technical questions"; if people post questions that have nothing to do with Search to a forum that clearly says "MSDN and TechNet Search issues" then you are being optimistic to imagine that people will bother to research what the four different types are.

    As we've seen, no matter how clear the forum description is, way off-topic posts still make it through, yet with topics you have a default topic and then a split-second decision as to which you are going to pick.

    No, four topic types is NOT a good idea.

    I'm really for David's idea of having only one but I'm prepared to accept the "General Discussion" one IF 

    a) its not the default
    b) the name is changed to Information Post or something like that. 

    The present name is pretty odd considering most threads end up more than just a conversation between two people.
    Monday, November 10, 2008 6:18 PM
  • Andrew> Ok, I guess this gives sense a lot.

    I ran over few thoughts reading your contribution - I would sharpen tendence which nobugz & mike walsh shown, because it can be opinion (and experience) of most of users: even two thread types is too much.

    I am not accepting this, but let's take it from different point, not point of agree or disagree to opinion - but from point of reasons, which stay behind such opinion.

    It is like we had option to mark files with extension, but from some reasons, we could feel unnecessary or confusing to do so. Why?
    1. Do extensions not correspond to contents?
    2. Or are extensions poorly categorised?

    For first option, it would be caused by improper usage from users, which has no special and deep solution. We can then only ask, how to come more towards user's needs, or how to emphasize actual rules, concretely thread types. The first option leads to question 2 and related solutions, so that some reassessment of thread categories is to be done, or at least renaming. For second, emphasizing current categories, we can think about some integral changes in interface of forum listing, such as forum subdivisions, thread sorting and grouping, thread face desing modification (thread type icons, delicate text proportion differentiating). Also going from inside, some ui design changes or maybe also tool set changes (editor, mark as answer..) can be done for thread view, in possibly higher contrast than can be used in forum listing interface. Also is remarkable to offer, for example, different ThreadViewStyles (TVS), which may be designed with look to current category: so that if user visited first Share Information About thread, he could switch threadViewStyle, and when flowing between threads of different categories, this setting of TVS would persist. I guess this completely closes options to do something with point 1)

    For second option, respecting both (reducing and constructivistic) opinions, I would suggest leveling of thread types. User vould level himself in settings, and this setting would be applied for which or if ever some thread types are offered for new thread, and also if and which types are used to describe forums in list. For this can be two methods used, together or selectively:

    • tag method: works with serial, not parallel thread types, so that user selects thread types of interrest, and these will appear in new thread menu. on the second side this leads to result, that forum list is filtered for every user
    • advanced method: works with any, but designed for parallel thread typing. It supposes that it is possible to have e.g. three levels, which are fully intersected, so that level selection really does not require filtering of thread. All messages appear for first level user as THREAD type. For second level user, THREADS divide to Questions, Informations and Discussions, and for third e.g.
      Questions < {Ask, Feedback}
      Informations < {Sharing knowledge, Give feedback, Bug report}
      Discussion < {Feedback, General, Styles ..}

    For advanced method also good to remark, that moderator can move (mark) on his own, so that Mike would only moved offtopics to offtopic folder, and Adrew could argue for hours with me if current thread is rather Question/Feedback or Discussion/General etc :) Also it should stay for both methods, that if some moderator perform type modification at third level, users which are using first level should not get information about movement "bannered", but only remarked in conservative way (so that it would inform them, but only marginally, in order to entice them for higher level, but not to scare them... somehow as edit info appears, possibly)


    • Edited by konikula Monday, November 10, 2008 10:07 PM
    Monday, November 10, 2008 10:06 PM
  • Matej:

    For me there is a big difference between what might be a good forum interface if all the participants had a perfect understanding of the features, and the reality where most of the participants are as clueless about the forums as they are about whatever topic they are asking about.

    The fact is that as soon as people become reasonably proficient in the forums, they also figure out that a much more efficient way to proceed is to get good at searching past forum posts, Google, Google Groups and MSDN. Therefore, most questioners are novices, and a simple (and bug free) interface is what is needed.

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, November 12, 2008 1:06 PM
  • That's sure thing, I guess. But anyway, possibly some previous propositions to thread categories (from admins and moderators also), could be important. In my previous post I have only tried to synthesize from these notes and opinions, what could be following solutions about, and what could also stay behind different negative feedbacks to current category system, springing of course also (only) from improper usage of thread types by novices. It is not really some general feedback proposition to current forums, it is just generalisation of possible evolution in case there is some more people feeling just like me, Mike Walsh, Andrew Brenner etc., and passing some more context to problematic, which can probably easily turn from theory to real need. I am also aware, that there is a lot of problems with current prototype of forums, from scripting and ajax behind to interface / asp codes:

    I am also not throwing forward this forum as bug feedback (nor previous post) - for this it is some properly just discussion about thread categories, their pluses and minuses, ways of evolution for it, and mainly opinions, suggestions, discussion and some context to proper usage. That is why I also included look & feel of threads and thread lists to it: just because it is possible secondary source of mistakes, and optional way to capitalize thread type for users, with side effect of easing usage of particular threads for superior classes of thread.

    I am also member of DeveloperFusion uk community, and insufficient usage of completed threads is GREAT problem. It is just frustrating to answer questions which you remember to be answered few months ago, and also it is frustrating to only search them and post their links.

    Thanks for good remarks,

    Friendly regards, Matt.vb
    • Edited by konikula Thursday, November 13, 2008 8:40 PM df remark
    Thursday, November 13, 2008 8:34 PM