Who to ask - and how? RRS feed

  • Question

  • The MSDN forums are an extremely valuable on-line resource for people trying to develop applications using their Microsoft tools of choice.

    Quite often you find that you are not the first person to raise your technical question and the answers are there waiting for you.

    However, there are also times when technical solutions/answers are just not forthcoming, no matter how many people have raised the same question - either in MSDN or other internet sources.

    When that happens it would be good to able to identify a Microsoft specialist (department or person) to whom the apparently unanswerable question could be specifically redirected.

    But who do we ask, and how do we ask them?


    Paul J

    Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:34 AM

All replies

  • If you want personal help form Microsoft I think you will have to pay for it. MSDN subscription is one way.

    But if you like free (who doesn't?) then

    1. Improve your Bing/Google search skills (the forum search itself is next to useless)

    2. Learn how to ask good questions in the forums

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP

    • Proposed as answer by Naomi N Monday, March 24, 2014 3:35 PM
    Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:35 AM
  • David speaks the truth, and his answer is spot-on.  If you want an answer from Microsoft directly, you have to pay for it.  This is still largely a community forum.

    However, I strongly agree that it would be useful to restructure the forum to get "burning questions" answered.  Particularly if they are relevant to many askers.  I've made a suggestion recently that might help surface questions to the right answerers.  You can upvote such suggestions to show support.  And for now, upvoting questions that others have asked may be your only tool, apart from asking your own well articulated question.

    But your dream that Microsoft will take the most asked, most difficult, most unanswered community questions and provide answers for them may remain a dream.

    That's because there's money to be made in engineering support so there will be internal conflict about whether or not to have paid specialists giving that service away for free.  It depends on whether people see it as a necessary supplement to Microsoft's other products and services.  It's a tricky business decision to decide where to draw that line.  For example, Microsoft is fine to run this community forum and let MSFT people lurk about.  But it doesn't seem to be a priority to answer questions.  As with any business partnership, if you're giving something away, you expect to see it return in some form.  And it takes guts to spend money to earn a good reputation alone, trusting that it will bolster your business.  For now, you just have to trust that Microsoft will identify burning issues, if it seems like the community is missing information about how to resolve a particular issue, and will provide support in some form or another.

    Read blogs, watch Channel9, use TechNet, scour the forums and make good use of search.

    Thursday, March 20, 2014 2:11 PM
  • Microsoft MVPs can escalate a question if they think an issue is important, and the issue can be answered by their contacts in Microsoft. Of course, MVPs often have only contacts in a few teams, and everyone has their idea about what is important or how close their questions are to the forum's topic.

    Choosing the correct forum is the most important step to get to the right people. Personally, I don't normally check the top voted threads for escalation, because it is always flooded by off-topic consumer threads that get more votes simply because software users outnumber software writers. Such posts are honey ports for other off-topic posts to come. Unfortunately in most of the forums I frequent, moderators do not seem to clean those in time, my guess is that they would have less time escalating questions, which takes a lot more time than moving a post. 

    in the forums where I can escalate, my priority is to answer questions, so new posts or resurrected old posts gets my attention. The questions I escalate are generally

    • on topic. posts are generally accepted as not off-topic by the community does not mean it is actually right to ask the forum's owner, for example we get a lot of Windows API questions in the Visual C++ forum that the VC team can't help with
    • not open-ended 
    • has enough detail to reproduce the problem independently (many of the bug reports I reported are closed as not reproducible, you do not want this happen to your report)
    • and of course cannot be answerable by myself.

    Visual C++ MVP

    Thursday, April 24, 2014 7:09 AM