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Suggestions on New "Ask a Question" Page RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Overall, I like this new way of asking questions. In fact, it provides some opportunities to improve the discussions on the forums.

    The help text for the Title should provide links to articles on what is a good title. This could reduce the number of posts with titles like "Web Services" or "XML Serialization Problem". If those articles could display without the user leaving the page, that would be good.

    The help text for tags should suggest that people not use tags that are implied by the forum they are in. For instance, it is of no value, in my opinion, to use the tag "Web Services" when posting to a web services forum. On the other hand, it does make sense to use the tag "WSE" when posting to the "ASMX Web Services" forum, since WSE is not implied by "ASMX Web Services".

    You might also mention the format for tags. Should quotes be used in multi-word tags, etc.

    Thanks for a great move in the right direction!
    John Saunders | Use File->New Project to create Web Service Projects
    Friday, February 27, 2009 1:32 PM

All replies

  • New Ask a Question format is great improvement if only because it will eliminate inadvertent novice use of General Discussion option.

    Thanks!

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Friday, February 27, 2009 2:17 PM
  • Thanks for the feedback John, and glad you like the direction of the ask page.

     

    I agree, good titles are critical. We went back and forth on making the help text more or less verbose, knowing that most users aren’t likely to read something that’s too long. We ended up with the text below, but we’re certainly open to suggestions.

     

    Step 2 of 6:

    Provide a descriptive title of the problem you need help with. Example: Cannot Upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7, Internet Explorer Freezing

     

    Good titles are even more important now with the ask page, since we’ve added an improved “similar questions” feature. If you haven’t seen it yet, just start creating a new question, give it a title and wait a few seconds. You’ll see “We’ve found questions similar to yours” returned (if similar questions exist). The similar questions are based on the Live Search API and the full text of the thread, but whether or not a user with the same question will know that their question has already been asked, will depend on the quality of the title.

     

    I agree, how we use tagging in the forums still needs some work. We tried to improve it a bit in this release, by making it a step in the process of asking a question and explaining to question askers why they’d want to add tags (help text below).

     

    Step 4 of 6:

    Tags are 1 or 2 descriptive words that provide context to your question. They help others find your post.

     

    Example: Windows Vista, performance

     

    We also eliminated the need to put multiple word tags in quotes, so tags are simply comma separated now.

     

    To your point about it doesn’t make sense to add tags that are synonymous with the forum you’re posting to. We might want to consider showing an implicit tag that is added automatically because the post is in a given forum (in this forum it might be “forum suggestion”), so it’s obvious to users that they wouldn’t need to go and add something similar. We’d obviously have to exclude that from the cloud when you’re in that forum (since it would be on every post). Then if you were in the suggestions forum and clicked on “search” the tag cloud, we could pass “forum suggestion” in and scope your results to threads tagged “search” in the suggestions forum, which is probably closer to what you intended.

     

    This is definitely something we’re still thinking about and we appreciate your feedback. I don’t think tagging is particularly useful in the forums today, but I think there are some scenarios where it could be very useful.

     

    Do you think tagging is useful or could be useful? How would you want to use it?

     

    Thanks again for your feedback,

    -Andrew


    Forums Product Planner, Andrew.Brenner at Microsoft.com
    Friday, February 27, 2009 4:47 PM
  • I added some tags to my post, but they ended up as one tag, because I didn't know I needed to separate the words with commas. Isn't this also a usability issue? Why do I have to remember to use commas? Wouldn't it be default to tag with many separate words and if the user happened to want to use a multiword tag, then just use quotes, underscores, or whatnot? Also when I edit tags (add them) they do not appear right away in the tag box so I keep guessing what happened.

    And why it opens a new page for a post, but not for a reply? I would like to reply in a new page too, just show the post I reply to in that page too. Wow. Now I clicked edit again. The first edit was in the same page. The second edit opened a new page, showing all the field codes / bracketed breaks. I tried a third edit and now it opened it up in the same page. Fourth edit opened again in a new page. Anyway...

    What if I want to start a discussion? Sure the change helps newcomers who want to ask a question to really ask a question. But there were only like two options and the newcomers can still screw it up, because they can change it to "general discussion" after choosing to ask a question, if they think that their question is general in nature.
    Wednesday, April 1, 2009 8:09 AM
  • I added some tags to my post, but they ended up as one tag, because I didn't know I needed to separate the words with commas. Isn't this also a usability issue? Why do I have to remember to use commas? Wouldn't it be default to tag with many separate words and if the user happened to want to use a multiword tag, then just use quotes, underscores, or whatnot?

    We found that users were were entering phrases expectig them to be a tag. It seemed more logical to delmit tags with commas than to have to put quotes around a multiword tag.

    The help bubble that's shown for the tag box should have text and an example of how tags should be delimited.

    Matt
    Matt Fraser, STO Forums Software Developer
    Wednesday, April 1, 2009 11:34 PM
  • I added some tags to my post, but they ended up as one tag, because I didn't know I needed to separate the words with commas. Isn't this also a usability issue? Why do I have to remember to use commas? Wouldn't it be default to tag with many separate words and if the user happened to want to use a multiword tag, then just use quotes, underscores, or whatnot?

    We found that users were were entering phrases expectig them to be a tag. It seemed more logical to delmit tags with commas than to have to put quotes around a multiword tag.

    The help bubble that's shown for the tag box should have text and an example of how tags should be delimited.

    Matt
    Matt Fraser, STO Forums Software Developer


    Java Plug-in 1.6.0-oem Using JRE version 1.6.0-oem Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM User home directory = C:\Users\calvinlee ---------------------------------------------------- c: clear console window f: finalize objects on finalization queue g: garbage collect h: display this help message l: dump classloader list m: print memory usage o: trigger logging p: reload proxy configuration q: hide console r: reload policy configuration s: dump system and deployment properties t: dump thread list v: dump thread stack x: clear classloader cache 0-5: set trace level to ----------------------------------------------------
    • Edited by calvin666 Thursday, July 9, 2009 8:44 PM calvin666
    Thursday, July 9, 2009 8:41 PM