Link responses RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I've noticed lately that questions are receiving answers consisting of nothing but a link. I browse the forums during down time to work at expanding my general knowledge of .NET and occasionally provide an answer.

    Working from a company computer I don't follow links to locations I'm not familiar with so I never get a chance to see these solutions to problems that catch my interest.

    Maybe it's just returning from a long weekend, but I get really irritated when I see that there is an answer to a problem I'm interested in only to find a response of : "Try this" with 'this' being a link outside of the forum.

    If the answer is to involved to post here it would be nice for the responder to at least state something to the effect and then tell us that an in depth answer can be found at a specific url.
    David M. Nichols contract software engineer
    • Moved by Peter Ritchie Tuesday, September 2, 2008 5:47 PM feedback about the site (Moved from Visual C# General to Suggestions and Feedback for the Forums)
    Tuesday, September 2, 2008 5:14 PM

All replies

  • (I wonder if this fits the remit of "Suggestions and Feedback for the Forums" as it is not a suggestion about the Forum software but is about user's behaviour in the forums).

    I think you have to divide this into three.

    a) Writing a short text outlining the solution and then giving a link.

    b) Writing the link to an existing article / FAQ item.

    c) Writing a new (blog) item and then in the forum/newsgroup giving a link to that blog item.

    c) is the one of the three that I completely despise (and it does happen). Even if the blog item does contain the solution, it's clear that the sole reason for doing it this way is to get people to access your site.

    b) is what I often do myself. I have a large (WSS) FAQ site and I'm often referring to something I added there years earlier and have no doubt in the past answered in a newsgroup in full more times than I can remember. I see nothing wrong in this situation (and given the usual time pressures) in providing virtually just a URL.

    a) is what I use if I have more time and the feeling there aren't a hundred more questions waiting and  wanting answers.

    Of course in addition to these three I mostly provide answers as text in the reply.

    So you should consider the motives of the people who do this before you issue a carte blanc condemnation. These days most forum and newsgroup posts are read by people who do have Internet access. Shall we repliers answer 10 questions instead of 100 questions so that we can cope with the few who don't have INet access. That is the choice.
    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 4:26 AM
  • Thanks for the feedback David. I appreciate suggestions about the content and behavior in the forums, as well as the functionality of the forums app. While my team can impact the functionality of the app most directly, we know that the usefulness of forums comes first from the content and the people who provide it. It would probably be useful to have a common set of guidelines for the forums that individual forums can add or subtract to, one of them being a bullet explaining when and how to use external links.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 3:17 PM
  • The only practice I'm condeming carte blanc is your option c). I do understand that those providing answers are often time constrained. I also understand that often a question has been asked and answered dozens of time before.

    If the answer were phrased along the lines of "This question is answered in detail by the following thread: post link here" I would not hesitate to follow the link.

    If a link is a tinyurl I will never follow it and if it goes to a location outside of msdn that I'm not familiar with I hesitate to follow that as well. I'm a dedicated paranoid when it comes to protecting my computer.

    I guess I just take issue with responses that come across as nothing more than an abrupt brush-off. If I don't have the time or the inclination to answer a question I simply pass it by.

    I think we are pretty much on the same page and having seen your name throughout the forums I would be inclined to follow a link provided in one of your responses.
    David M. Nichols contract software engineer
    Wednesday, September 3, 2008 7:27 PM