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Right Hand side of forums - content box for product specific links wanted

    General discussion

  • I'd like to see an administrator or moderator option to have a box in the right hand part of the forum browser window with specific information for that forum.
    For example, when Windows Live OneCare moves to this environment, having a list of links to other useful and related sites would be what I'd want to see - the Wiki, the official site, the team blog, the member center, etc.
    I know that they can be in accouncements, but in the OneCare environment, that means the announcement sticks with the topic folder and not at the top level of the product forum. I would see this list as content that would appear on every page since there is that space at the right already used by other modules. I'd give up the top answerer space for that. :-)
    -steve
    Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator
    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 12:33 AM

All replies

  • Thanks for the suggestion, Stephen. We're definitely looking at ways to expose "related good stuff" on every page of our sites in a data-driven way. What I'm hearing from you though is closer to a list links related to this forum that won't likely change often, but would be manually updated by a moderator.

    Part of the strategy behind enabling user tagging is to enable "virtual forums" that center around a tag rather than around static editorial decisions at Microsoft. This is why we'd like to take a data-driven approach to providing "related" links.

    Thoughts on that approach? I suppose it doesn't have to be an either/or proposition...
    Chris Slemp, Program Manager, MSDN and TechNet
    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 6:00 PM
  • I think I'd like both.
    When I first though of what I defined as a list of related links to external sites appearing on the pages of the forum, my thoughts were not just links. I was thinking along the lines of what announcements do today, but by placing it at the side, it was more "in your face" for the typical visitor to the OneCare forums. They end up in the forum by doing a web search or because Help in OneCare directed them there for a specific problem they were trying to solve. When that user is faced with the forum environment, assuming they aren't already savvy forum users, they need information now. Giving them instructional information in the sidebar area, rather than "hiding" it in an announcement that kind of looks just like any other thread, might make it more visible. I then decided that I'd prefer a list of resource links that might lead to external sites of pages that give them the help they seek. Many visitors to the OneCare forum get very lost despite the collection of FAQ annoucements we provide. Since the forum post structure is fairly rigid, leading them out to a wiki lets us organize useful information in a way that we can't in the forum and lets us do this "unofficially" as we moderators are not restricted by whatever processes are in place to update the official Help system of the much loved <g> knowledgebase articles in the support environment.
    The virtual forum idea is great, but I don't think that more than 1 or 2% of OneCare users finding their way to the forum have a clue about tags, let alone the search box on the forum page to find the information they really need.
    -steve
    Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator
    Wednesday, May 14, 2008 6:25 PM