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Mark As Answer

    Question

  • there are some people that post a possible solution, and then mark the thread answered.  how can anyone but the thread starter mark it as answer.  their signatures suggest that they work for MSFT.
    Saturday, November 1, 2008 8:45 PM

Answers

  • In the forums you post to, you probably see the actions of a group of Chinese techs.  They were hired back in December 2006 by DevDiv, specifically to get the answer rate up.  Back then, the MSDN forums got very popular and there weren't enough moderators to keep up with the massive volume of posts.  The answer rate was an easy statistic used by the administrators and it looked like the forums were doing poorly.  The group's mission was to post to neglected threads and getting them marked answered.  They typically did (and do) so by posting something plausible and marking their post as the answer.  They have moderator status, to allow them to mark answers, and identify themselves as MSFT employees but don't do typical moderator duty and only work in forums sponsered by DevDiv.

    There was a fair amount of ruckus over this back then, it took them a while to work out an answering strategy that didn't get other contributors to threads upset.  It worked out, I haven't seen a complaint in a while.  However, there have been a lot of new faces in that group recently, most of the veterans have moved on.  I've worked with the group's supervisors in the past to smooth things out.  If you have a specific problem, post me an email and I'll contact them.  You'll find my email address in my profile at the old forum.

    Hans Passant.
    • Marked as answer by dbasnett Monday, November 3, 2008 11:53 AM
    Sunday, November 2, 2008 9:57 AM
  • I too worked with the group's supervisors about this so it seems I wasn't alone.

    The immediate problem was that they (the Chinese techs) used to send a reply and within seconds mark their own reply as an Answer.

    I was told at one point that the team had now been told that they should wait several hours (a day??) before doing this. I have the impression that they now do daily sweeps where they don't provide answers but check threads that are then marked as answered. They are also much more likely these days to mark someone else's post as an answer rather than their own.

    The problem still remains (and the best answerer list is still full of Microsoft people - often with Chinese names - who are there because they've marked their own posts) that the threshold for marking a post as answer is lower when you actively want to mark a thread as being answered than when you - when reading a thread - say to yourself "that's a good answer" and mark it.

    Also, as Hans says (and I've noticed this earlier with the managed newsgroups which use the same kind of people), every time the staff are replaced, the new ones make all the same "mistakes" the older ones have learnt to avoid. I don't know about Hans, but I don't really feel like contacting the supervisors every time their staff changes !


    • Marked as answer by dbasnett Monday, November 3, 2008 11:52 AM
    Monday, November 3, 2008 6:41 AM

All replies

  • Moderators can also mark a post as an answer.

    As for Microsoft people, I don't know whether they are all automatically Moderators and are able to mark posts because of that or whether being Microsoft is enough.


    People from both these groups can mark ther own posts as well as posts from other people. Many do, although I think that's incorrect behaviour and I never mark my own posts in those forums where I'm a Moderator.


    • Edited by Mike Walsh FIN Sunday, November 2, 2008 8:28 AM missed one!!
    • Proposed as answer by alina11 Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:18 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Mike Walsh FIN Thursday, November 6, 2008 4:47 AM
    Sunday, November 2, 2008 8:27 AM
  • In the forums you post to, you probably see the actions of a group of Chinese techs.  They were hired back in December 2006 by DevDiv, specifically to get the answer rate up.  Back then, the MSDN forums got very popular and there weren't enough moderators to keep up with the massive volume of posts.  The answer rate was an easy statistic used by the administrators and it looked like the forums were doing poorly.  The group's mission was to post to neglected threads and getting them marked answered.  They typically did (and do) so by posting something plausible and marking their post as the answer.  They have moderator status, to allow them to mark answers, and identify themselves as MSFT employees but don't do typical moderator duty and only work in forums sponsered by DevDiv.

    There was a fair amount of ruckus over this back then, it took them a while to work out an answering strategy that didn't get other contributors to threads upset.  It worked out, I haven't seen a complaint in a while.  However, there have been a lot of new faces in that group recently, most of the veterans have moved on.  I've worked with the group's supervisors in the past to smooth things out.  If you have a specific problem, post me an email and I'll contact them.  You'll find my email address in my profile at the old forum.

    Hans Passant.
    • Marked as answer by dbasnett Monday, November 3, 2008 11:53 AM
    Sunday, November 2, 2008 9:57 AM
  • M.X.

    It sounds like spin to me.  If it is going to be allowed, then at least put a timeframe on it.  A lot of people skip resolved threads, so Microsoft is really doing a dis-service to people who come here to get help in some cases.
    • Edited by dbasnett Monday, November 3, 2008 11:31 AM
    • Proposed as answer by alina11 Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:18 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Mike Walsh FIN Thursday, November 6, 2008 4:47 AM
    Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:11 AM
  • Sure it's spin.  No, there's no timeframe.  There's no "allowing", it's DevDiv's forum, they make the rulez.  The techs are supposed to handle dead threads and they generally have.  Speak up if you see something else going on by posting links.
    Hans Passant.
    • Proposed as answer by alina11 Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:18 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Mike Walsh FIN Thursday, November 6, 2008 4:47 AM
    Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:46 AM
  • I too worked with the group's supervisors about this so it seems I wasn't alone.

    The immediate problem was that they (the Chinese techs) used to send a reply and within seconds mark their own reply as an Answer.

    I was told at one point that the team had now been told that they should wait several hours (a day??) before doing this. I have the impression that they now do daily sweeps where they don't provide answers but check threads that are then marked as answered. They are also much more likely these days to mark someone else's post as an answer rather than their own.

    The problem still remains (and the best answerer list is still full of Microsoft people - often with Chinese names - who are there because they've marked their own posts) that the threshold for marking a post as answer is lower when you actively want to mark a thread as being answered than when you - when reading a thread - say to yourself "that's a good answer" and mark it.

    Also, as Hans says (and I've noticed this earlier with the managed newsgroups which use the same kind of people), every time the staff are replaced, the new ones make all the same "mistakes" the older ones have learnt to avoid. I don't know about Hans, but I don't really feel like contacting the supervisors every time their staff changes !


    • Marked as answer by dbasnett Monday, November 3, 2008 11:52 AM
    Monday, November 3, 2008 6:41 AM
  • here is a thread, though because i posted a "complaint" it was changed

    http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/vbgeneral/thread/2a17e437-2d17-435e-88b0-d20e87f6a0b2

    MX posted a reply @ 5:28:22 and marked it as answer @ 5:29:19.  I see him do it often.

    As it turns out I apparently am a little slow on the uptake.  MSDN forums are ;), ;) nudge, nudge, known for the level of help they provide and it is discussed in many other forums.  I can't speak for others but I find myself not participating here as much as in other forums, because there seems to be more spin than substance.  But that is just MHO.




    • Proposed as answer by alina11 Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:18 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Mike Walsh FIN Thursday, November 6, 2008 4:47 AM
    Monday, November 3, 2008 11:52 AM
  • Well, it is certainly an excellent example of the kind of mop-up job they do.  Sunrunner posted a reply, the OP came back and said s/he had no idea how to use the reply and then nobody came along for a week to help the OP.  Martin then stepped in and gave the OP a good lead on example code to use.  And closed the thread.  That's exactly what they are paid to do.  It is up to the OP to unmark the answer if s/he is still stuck.  They very rarely do, few programmers get stuck on a problem for a week.  Which is connected to why the techs were hired in the first place, only about 1 in 4 OPs bother to close a thread.
    Hans Passant.
    • Proposed as answer by alina11 Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:18 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Mike Walsh FIN Thursday, November 6, 2008 4:47 AM
    Monday, November 3, 2008 1:02 PM
  • Mike Walsh MVP said:

    As for Microsoft people, I don't know whether they are all automatically Moderators and are able to mark posts because of that or whether being Microsoft is enough.


    The only thing being a Microsoft employee grants is (MSFT) next to their display names and assignment of threads. No real special privileges beyond that.

    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Wednesday, November 5, 2008 10:36 PM
  • Sure about that?  I haven't yet seen a MSFT employee that didn't also have moderator rights.  Not that this ever has been a problem btw.
    Hans Passant.
    Thursday, November 6, 2008 12:40 AM
  • Yep, totally sure on that one. I refactored the code to the current manifestation of our security manager class :)

    Could be the poster's you come across happen to make sense to have mod priv's on those forums.
    Rob J, Forums Dev
    Thursday, November 6, 2008 3:40 AM
  • Back to the original question.

    I just saw a post that the Microsoft person who wrote it had marked as an Answer.

    The original post in the thread was completely off-topic for the forum it was posted to and all the Microsoft guy had written was just that - that the post was Off-Topic. He didn't attempt an answer to the problem itself.

    He didn't find the time to actually move it to (for instance) the Off-Topic forum but he DID find the time to mark his "answer" as an Answer.

    Some people have no shame 

    (and this is one reason [the other being that they are paid for their work in the forums] why many Microsoft names are high up in the total list of people who have posted Answered posts and why no doubt the original poster posted his question.

    Nothing you forum software people can sort out of course. Except perhaps by making sure all Microsoft people play to the same rules.
    Saturday, November 8, 2008 2:00 PM
  • The issue has been handed off to the appropriate people...

    Also, that's why there's a seperate "MSFT Answerers" list, so that MSFTs don't clutter the main answerer list


    Matt Fraser, STO Forums Software Developer
    Monday, November 10, 2008 6:57 AM
  • > Also, that's why there's a seperate "MSFT Answerers" list, so that MSFTs don't clutter the main answerer list

     
    You may know better but in my experience the MSFT Answerers list is only at forum or group of forums level (and only consists of a handful of names in an order which no longer seems to be valid - as mentioned in an earlier thread, if the guy who was first in the list way back when posts a single message this month he becomes first again [applies to second too etc. ]).

    The key list is the total list showing the option of listed in order of number of posts; number of answers (default); or number of points. That list (which you get by clicking "More" at the bottom of any Top Answerers list *does* include Microsoft people. Ten of the first twenty in fact in the list sorted by number of answers are (at this minute) MSFT people and most of those from their names clearly belong to the group of people being paid for answering questions.  



    Suggestion:All MSFT people are removed from the total list. Maybe then I could make the top hundred again.
    Monday, November 10, 2008 8:31 AM
  • Another example: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/whatforum/thread/741f14e6-accc-489d-935f-481853cc8c4e/. The Moderator sends the user to a different forum then, after a few seconds, marks his post as answer.  
    Lucian Baciu, MCTS, http://studentclub.ro/lucians_weblog
    Wednesday, November 12, 2008 11:45 AM
  • That's another group, headed by Alicia Cales.  They got a bit confused when given the assignment to do something about the poor response rate in Where's The Forum.  I started a thread about it.  Mrs Cales wasn't very happy about it but the practice stopped.

    Marking your own post as the answer in Where's The Forum is otherwise recommended, the forum isn't moderated much if any.  The Chinese techs don't touch it, it is not a DevDiv forum.
    Hans Passant.
    Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12:08 PM
  • Oh, well, I'll not post there anymore.
    Lucian Baciu, MCTS, http://studentclub.ro/lucians_weblog
    Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12:14 PM
  • Mrs Cales also wanted comments about people doing odd things to be sent to her by e-mail rather than having them made in the forums as you'll remember because that was addressed to both of us.

    1. I sent a couple to the address she supplied.

    2. I never got any response.

    3. I gave up.


    Odd because I do have regular e-mail conversations with some of the forum people at MS. 


    P.S. The Chinese techs don't touch it, it is not a DevDiv forum.    (comment on Where's the forum for ...?)

    From the names it seems to be supported by non-China East Asia  ....
    • Edited by Mike Walsh FIN Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12:32 PM grammar
    Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12:28 PM
  • Mike:

    Same here. No response. My conclusion was that criticizing these people was fair game, but I have really lost interest in this topic. There are more important things wrong with the forums, IMHO.


    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12:56 PM
  • Another example

    the op specifically said "... I'll let you know if that works."  but no, couldn't wait on the op. 

    and i agree with david.  maybe the people making the stats look good should be put to work on the real issues.
    Monday, November 24, 2008 2:47 PM