Unanswered Counts RRS feed

  • Question

  • For every forum, the main page displays an Unanswered Questions count:

    For example, for .NET Base Class Library, it is 1,658.

    This number is not very useful, presumably because it includes very old questions.  Thus, it will never go down appreciably.  I suggest that questions older than some number of days be excluded from the Unanswered Questions count.  Perhaps all old questions should be bulk changed from Question to Discussion.

    Saturday, May 2, 2009 2:42 AM

All replies

  • There is very useful info buried in those numbers.  There is a fair amount of overlap in the forum categories.  A user ought to post in a forum that is most on-topic, but often has a choice.  For example, when hacking HTML with WebBrowser, she could choose between Windows Forms General (73% answer rate) or Internet Explorer Web Development (13%).  Or when having a problem with a Windows API call, choose between C++ General (88%) and Windows SDK (27%).  Easy choices there.  Or avoid completely dysfunctional forums (Sharepoint Business Data Catalog, 8%).

    Useful too to judge whether jumping on a new MSFT band wagon is going to pay off.  I'd avoid "Geneva".  VS2010 doesn't look promising yet.

    Good stuff, tinkering with the numbers might well destroy that value.  I agree that having a "recent performance" rating could be more accurate.  But you usually can tell easily by looking through the first 5 pages of the forum.  With 1658 unanswered posts, BCL is doing pretty well.  An 89% answer rate is quite respectable, especially for a forum that attracts so many off topic questions.  After moderating that forum for 3 years, that's a number I carry on my badge.  Unnoticed as it may be.

    Hans Passant.
    Saturday, May 2, 2009 12:53 PM
  • My point is that I am thinking that the answer rate on most of the forums has gotten better over time (hopefully!).  Unanswered questions of long ago are just not relevant to how the forum has been functioning recently.  nobugz, I see your point that if the number of total questions/answers is not similarly adjusted, then another kind of skew is introduced.  That's a good point.  The devil is in the details.

    Saturday, May 2, 2009 1:17 PM
  • Unfortunately there are lots of reasons why "I am thinking that the answer rate on most of the forums has gotten better over time".

    One is that some (not all) of the Microsoft support teams actively go through the forums marking posts as answers. In addition some of the other support teams that don't mark their own posts will seemingly automatically convert every self-proposal to an answer.

    Neither method really means that the number of answers has increased. All it means is that the number of posts marked as answers has increased. Two completely different things!

    I was once at a presentation given to a small group of people by someone responsible for premium support for a particular region. He showed us a couple of charts showing things like the initial response time and % of closed questions. He also made it clear that those figures were how his success in his job was measured. I had been a premium support user and had seen indeed fast initial responses which mainly said my query had been received. I had also suffered from innumerable e-mails asking if a thread could be closed when it clearly wasn't (2 days no response from me was bound to get such an e-mail for instance). I have the maybe false impression that in a similar way some forum support teams are judged perhaps on the number of answered posts.

    Just as you can ask a question in a particular way to get the majority of people in a gallup to give you the answer you want, the varying approaches in different forums to marking posts as answers mean that comparing statistics for two forums is often pointless and misleading.

    The only true figures are the total number of posts and, yes, the total number of unanswered posts. Unlike Hans I don't blame a large number of those unanswered posts on Off-topic posts because a good moderator knows how to move off-topic posts either directly to the correct forum or failing that to the Off-Topic posts forum. So what you are left with ought to be on-topic posts that haven't been answered. That is then a genuine number just like the total number.
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    • Edited by Mike Walsh FIN Thursday, May 7, 2009 3:51 AM ask a question not add a question ...
    Saturday, May 2, 2009 1:38 PM
  • Very interesting guys.

    John Grove - TFD Group, Senior Software Engineer, EI Division,
    Wednesday, May 6, 2009 1:15 AM