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Mark As Answer Suggestion

    General discussion

  • Sometimes, users (especially those new to the forums) write a "yes, that worked, thanks" response and mark it as the answer when they should have marked someone else's response as the answer.

    I suggest that the forum system display a dialog to the user when that user attempts to mark his or her own post as the answer and the thread has posts from other users. This dialog should explain how "Mark As Answer" is supposed to work and prompt to confirm marking the post as the answer.

    This way "Mark As Answer" should work seems obvious, but it seems like a nontrivial percentage of new users get it wrong.

    Friday, March 13, 2009 2:48 AM

All replies

  • I think we would be much better off if self-marking was not permitted. Maybe there are correct uses, but the majority are inappropriate. See this thread for example:

    http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/vclanguage/thread/8d7efdd3-f767-48f9-8d16-87a0bb3eb27e

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Monday, March 16, 2009 8:43 PM
  • The OP being able to mark his/her own response as the answer is necessary.  It is quite common for the OP to discover the solution.  I corrected the answer marks in that thread.
    Hans Passant.
    Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:22 AM
  • Hans:

    I have to say that I disagree. There has to be something wrong with a feature that is more often used inappropriately than appropriately.

    Yes, it can be fixed by a moderator, but if we take this thought to its logical conclusion we would not let mere mortals annotate the posts at all.

    If we must have it, I think self Mark as Answer should be a different concept from regular Mark as Answer. Much as I dislike Propose as Answer, and particularly self-propose, I think self-propose by OP would be better than self-marking. IMHO, any thread containing a Propose as Answer should be  a red flag to the moderators to go in and either remove it or convert it to mark as Answer, and that would be true of this new usage also.

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Tuesday, March 17, 2009 10:46 AM
  • "Propose as Answer" is being abused badly, "Mark as Answer" is not.  I already explained the politics behind it.  You'll need to draw the attention of a community moderator to get an answer mark fixed.  That's very hard to do in the new forum software, there are also very few active community moderators left.  I'd suggest you click "Report post as abusive".

    Sorry Jason.

    Hans Passant.
    Tuesday, March 17, 2009 11:05 AM
  • Mark as Answer is being abused -- by self-mark

    Propose as Answer is being abused -- by self-propose

    You see the pattern here?

    I see very little benefit in Propose as Answer at all, but self-propose is totally destructive, IMHO.

    I dislike self-mark also, but if we must have it I think it should be different from regular mark.

    My proposal:

    1. Get rid of self-propose and self-mark as currently implemented

    2. Allow self-propose for OP only

    3. Moderators should eliminate all proposals (either promote to mark, or remove)

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:04 PM
  • Hans:

    More moderator work on the self-marking issue needed here

    http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/vcgeneral/thread/03899ba9-0974-4a44-a627-1438257ae55e

    (This one may be accidental.)

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 6:21 PM
  • Hans:

    Take a another look at this thread!

    I guess he (or she) is doing it on purpose...

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 7:55 PM
  • Who is KeyHint and who proposed InitInstance()?  This thread belongs to BinaryCoder, send me an email if you see other instances.  You'll find the address in my profile on the old site.
    Hans Passant.
    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 8:22 PM
  • I don't know (x2).

    I just noticed that after you unmarked the OP's self-mark, the OP came right back and marked his/her final post instead.

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Wednesday, March 18, 2009 8:56 PM
  • I hate to dredge up an old topic, but I've only somewhat recently joined the discussion here.

    Dave - I tend to agree with what you've posted here about there being "abuse" of propose/mark as answer.

    I'm seeing way too many posts that aren't answers being marked as answers.  I know moderating the forums is a tough task, but I don't see that anyone is helped by marking a thread as an answer when it's not.

    I interpret an "answer" to be a very clear resolution that directly addresses the question being asked.  Do other folks see a need for some shades of grey here?

    Some questions in a thread can't be answered with the information the user provided.  I don't see that as a bad thing.  Maybe you ask some more questions and help guide the person in the right direction.  Your post may be helpful, but unless the person comes back and confirms it, it shouldn't be marked as an answer.


    My suggestions:
    1) Allow someone to unmark a post as an answer.
      - Maybe you just allow the person that started the thread to do this, or maybe you let anyone tag it to be unmarked, but no action is taken until <x> people say that it's not an answer.

    2) Figure out a way to track users that consistently mark/propose as answer, and then have them unmarked.  That's not to punish the user (unless it becomes a consistent problem), but you want to figure out what the issue is.  When a user has <x> number of posts umarked/unproposed as answer, someone should look at them.  If they get to <y> posts with the same problem, someone from the forums team should look at them to see if there's some better user guidance that could be provided.

    3) I think self-mark as answer should go away for the most part.  There aren't many scenarios where you can be 100% certain that the response answered the user's question
    without hearing back from them.

    Note:  I'm not a moderator or a part of the forums team.


    Want to know if your hardware will work on Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Microsoft Logo'd Hardware List**
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 4:56 AM
  • There have been numerous attempts at getting this policy overturned by the community, so far without results.  Maybe hearing it from a Microsoft employee makes a difference.  Talk to Brent Serbus and Alicia Scales (aka Franks) directly.  Good luck.

    Hans Passant.
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 9:23 AM
  • "I interpret an "answer" to be a very clear resolution that directly addresses the question being asked.  Do other folks see a need for some shades of grey here?"

    I do.

    Marking as answer does three things:

    1) Gives the post special status.
    2) Hands out points.
    3) Let's current people know the issue has been resolved.

    Why do we want these?

    We want to give it special status so people who search the forums have an easy time finding the answer.
    We hand out points as a way of expressing gratitude, and contribute to marking others as contributors (medals).
    We want people to know the issue is resolved, so they don't waste their time.

    These are three different things trying to be done with the same mark.

    I'd suggest splitting these tasks.

    1) Mark as answer should not hand out points. Self-answer should be allowed. It should be done by moderator or poster.
      This is merely an identification of where to look. It may just mention the other posts that were the answer.

    2) Points should be handed out for helpful responses, regardless of whether they are also the answer. Self-marking would not be allowed. Perhaps requiring more than one person to mark it as helpful before granting any points.

    3) Add a close thread option to the author. Or just a way to say "i am the author, i got what i wanted, i'm not planning on reading this thread anymore."

    Perhaps separating these tasks will help them be more effective, and used.
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 2:01 PM
  • > 1) Mark as answer should not hand out points. Self-answer should be allowed. It should be done by moderator or poster. This is merely an identification of where to look. It may just mention the other posts that were the answer.

    > 2) Points should be handed out for helpful responses, regardless of whether they are also the answer. Self-marking would not be allowed. Perhaps requiring more than one person to mark it as helpful before granting any points.

    > 3) Add a close thread option to the author. Or just a way to say "i am the author, i got what i wanted, i'm not planning on reading this thread anymore."



    These are good ideas. I needed to read the first one twice to be sure I agreed with it. You are saying that the only people who can do self-answer (and I presume you include self-propose in that - at least I hope so, as getting rid of that abomination is for me the main desire) are the Moderators and the original poster.

    Even though I (with my extension) agree with it, it still leaves the door wide open for the OP to mark a post of his that says "Thanks, Jim, that solved it" as the answer (which is the problem that started this thread way back ...) and also for the MS support people in *some* (hopefully few) forums who have the bad habit of marking all of their own replies as answers.
    WSS FAQ sites: http://wssv2faq.mindsharp.com and http://wssv3faq.mindsharp.com
    Total list of WSS 3.0 / MOSS 2007 Books (including foreign language) http://wssv3faq.mindsharp.com/Lists/v3%20WSS%20FAQ/V%20Books.aspx
    • Edited by Mike Walsh FIN Saturday, February 20, 2010 8:14 AM > s added as unclear that these were quotes
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 2:59 PM
  • Hmm.. true. What i am hoping for is,  that by separating "answer" (option 1) from "close" (option 3) the thread owner would choose close in those cases. That is when the moderator can mark the answer.

    Also this might just be a first step in the right direction. By separating these three actions, we can study how they are used and modify them accordingly. By keeping them together, any changes have the complexity of supporting three things at the same time.
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 3:17 PM
  • Hans - I think I'd previously seen a much longer thread on this subject and I was going to post to it instead, but I couldn't find it last night when searching for it.  If you recall some of the earlier threads, I'd love to take a look at them.  (Don't know if it's my poor search skills, or if search here isn't working well :)

    Brian - I think 1 & 2 are great suggestions, but I'm not sold on #3.

    I see a lot of threads that were started months ago, and then someone new replies to them saying they have the same issue.  Sometimes there's value in starting a new thread, sometimes there's value in bumping an old thread.  So I don't know that allowing the thread starter to close the thread benefits everyone here.  And I don't think you can vote on closed/locked threads in the current system, so they'd have to update that capability too.

    I personally tend to think that most issues probably belong in their own threads instead of bumping old ones (esp. if the original issue was reported on an older build than the current issue), but I think many other folks disagree with that POV.

     

     


    Want to know if your hardware will work on Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Microsoft Logo'd Hardware List**
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 3:35 AM
  • Mark - Would you like the idea if we only allowed option 1(mark as answer) *after* option 3(close thread)?

    Closing the thread doesn't mean block new input. It means i got my answer. But it separates the requirement of choosing a post that answered it. This helps in any case where the OP just wants to say goodbye. These can be seen in dead threads where there is no post marked as answer, or where the OP marks his goodbye message as the answer.

    Going back to an old thread has another issue. The new asker cannot mark it as answered. I'd say make it a new thread.
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:58 PM
  • I guess I'm confused on what you mean by closing the thread.  I don't see how this concept is any different from what exists today.  A person starts a thread.  Someone posts an answer.  The OP marks it as an answer (or proposes it...I think only a moderator can actually mark it, right?).  The ? in the thread list changes to a check mark to indicate that the question has been answered.

    Can you clarify for me how you see close thread being different from the current experience?  Why would you allow additional discussion in a thread after it was closed?

    I guess I'm not too worried about dead threads with nothing marked as an answer.  That's going to happen. 

    If it's clear to a user when a post is marked as an answer vs. when it is not, then new folks will know to just search for threads with answers, and they will hopefully find the help that they need.  I think the threads with posts incorrectly marked as an answer are much more concerning.  Then a user doing a search finds those, and they aren't really helped at all by the response.


    Want to know if your hardware will work on Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Microsoft Logo'd Hardware List**
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:16 PM
  • "The OP marks it as an answer (or proposes it...I think only a moderator can actually mark it, right?)."

    Anyone can propose as answer. OP and moderator can mark as answer.

    "Can you clarify for me how you see close thread being different from the current experience?"

    It separates the marking a thread as answered from marking the actual post as answer (and distribute points). The intended reason for mark as answer is two fold. One, so noone wastes their time responding to a recently dead thread. Two, to be able to place "the answer" post on top for easy finding. Closing a thread would address the dead thread issue. Marking as answer would help seekers find the answers.

    "Why would you allow additional discussion in a thread after it was closed?"

    In case someone want to add a quikie note to it for other searchers. Or if the OP sparked a discussion between the forum users, and then left when he got his answer, but the other users want to continue talking about the topic. Topic of efficiency where the OP just wants a quick and dirty answer fit this. For the most part though, closed threads would not be replied to anymore.

    "I guess I'm not too worried about dead threads with nothing marked as an answer.  That's going to happen."

    And we have a few moderators who work to clean those up. Nice job by them.

    "If it's clear to a user when a post is marked as an answer vs. when it is not, then new folks will know to just search for threads with answers, and they will hopefully find the help that they need.  I think the threads with posts incorrectly marked as an answer are much more concerning.  Then a user doing a search finds those, and they aren't really helped at all by the response."

    Which is exactly why marking the thread as closed and marking a post as the answer would help. The issue arises from OPs that mark a post (such as their own) as the answer to close the thread.
    Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:28 PM
  • What sort of clean up happens for "dead" threads?  When is a thread considered dead?

    So with this new system, you'd no longer have the check mark on the thread to show that it had been answered?  How do people know that the thread contains an answer?
    Want to know if your hardware will work on Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Microsoft Logo'd Hardware List**
    Friday, September 18, 2009 3:59 AM
  • "The OP marks it as an answer (or proposes it...I think only a moderator can actually mark it, right?)."

    Anyone can propose as answer. OP and moderator can mark as answer.
    Actually, anybody except OP can propose as answer. OP-propose was an absurdity that we managed to get rid of some time back. Another absurdity, self-propose by responder , still lingers on, despite almost universal opposition to it from people that actually try to answer questions in the forums.

    I say just get rid of Propose as Answer altogether. Then we could start a sensible debate about Mark as Answer and Vote as Helpful . With Propose as Answer still around muddying the waters, it's hard  to get any clarity, or traction.

    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Friday, September 18, 2009 11:50 AM
  • > despite almost universal opposition to it from people that actually try to answer questions in the forums.

    .. and also "almost universal opposition to it " from people trying to Moderate the forums (who are theoretically supposed to look at posts that are proposed as answers in order to consider "upgrading" them to Marked as Answer status, but who find this an impossible amount of work in view of the large number of self-proposed posts).

    WSS FAQ sites: http://wssv2faq.mindsharp.com and http://wssv3faq.mindsharp.com
    Total list of WSS 3.0 / MOSS 2007 Books (including foreign language) http://wssv3faq.mindsharp.com/Lists/v3%20WSS%20FAQ/V%20Books.aspx
    Friday, September 18, 2009 12:55 PM
  • > despite almost universal opposition to it from people that actually try to answer questions in the forums.

    .. and also "almost universal opposition to it " from people trying to Moderate the forums (who are theoretically supposed to look at posts that are proposed as answers in order to consider "upgrading" them to Marked as Answer status, but who find this an impossible amount of work in view of the large number of self-proposed posts).

    Hmmm...wonder what more can be done then to change the minds of the MS forums folks?
    Want to know if your hardware will work on Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Microsoft Logo'd Hardware List**
    Monday, September 21, 2009 5:38 AM
  • Afaik, there is an internal report circulated inside MSFT that shows the performance of the forums.  That is measured by the answer rate.  Get rid of the report, or reformulate the meaning of success, and the need to cook the numbers will disappear as well.

    Hans Passant.
    Monday, September 21, 2009 11:56 AM
  • It's a great metric to use to determine the success of the forums...but the fatal flaw is that it depends on follow up from the people that start the threads.

    People just aren't using the voting options that they have (helpful/answer).  So in addition to being a problem itself, it also masks this issue.

    Seems like there could be some tracking system (that's not exposed to most users) that could be used to rate whether or not there was follow up on the thread.  There can be many categories for this followup (like "possible answer, no confirmation from thread starter", "not enough details to determine root cause", etc).

    I don't really like the idea of separating the "success" metrics from the voting options.  But I know how management looooooves reports :P  And it seems like a reasonable way to make sure the internal tracking process doesn't impact the quality of results people see in the forum.

    Many people have suggestions in their signatures asking people to vote/mark threads that have helped them.  From what I've seen, that's not helping too much.  Hopefully they'll find a way to motivate people to use these features a little more.
    Want to know if your hardware will work on Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Microsoft Logo'd Hardware List**
    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 4:21 AM
  • What sort of clean up happens for "dead" threads?  When is a thread considered dead?

    So with this new system, you'd no longer have the check mark on the thread to show that it had been answered?  How do people know that the thread contains an answer?
    Want to know if your hardware will work on Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Microsoft Logo'd Hardware List **

    Clean-up for a dead thread? Just that it is closed and not wasting people's time. Or, moderators can mark a post as the answer to help people searching.

    "When is a thread considered dead?"

    Currently, it's a best guess. Usually (definitely not always!), after a few work days have passed with no activity. It helps if the OP marked something as the answer.

    "So with this new system, you'd no longer have the check mark on the thread to show that it had been answered?"

    Answered posts could still have checkmarks. But closed-thread != marked-answer-thread.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 3:30 PM
  • I think new users are doing this in an effort to get "them" points.
    John Grove - TFD Group, Senior Software Engineer, EI Division, http://www.tfdg.com
    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:00 PM
  • Another example

    http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/csharpgeneral/thread/78438d2c-0e83-48e4-9999-357976b5951d

    This is becoming the norm
    John Grove - TFD Group, Senior Software Engineer, EI Division, http://www.tfdg.com
    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 1:44 PM
  • And another:

    http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/Vsexpressvcs/thread/c95ee9ac-a971-4cb9-90a2-26c8205d678b
    John Grove - TFD Group, Senior Software Engineer, EI Division, http://www.tfdg.com
    Thursday, October 1, 2009 6:27 PM
  • I agree with Hans as of Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:22 AM. Most of my problems are problems that I have found.
    Renee

    THIS EDITOR STINKS!!!!
    Sunday, October 4, 2009 6:04 PM
  • Is this why some moderators / administrators are answering the question with the exact same answer as someone else did earlier but marking their own answer as the answer so they get points?

    Being a 10 year MSFT veteran (ex-softie now,) I can see that some are abusing their privileges to artificially inflate their statistics for their reviews.
    Thursday, February 11, 2010 5:34 PM
  • > Many people have suggestions in their signatures asking people to vote/mark threads that have helped them.  From what I've seen, that's not helping too much.  

    It's a post from September 22 2009 from Mark [MSFT] but I still feel the urge to comment on it.

    It actually works far too well. When I checked the list of top posters, far too many (not the very top people but close to the top for answers) people there had such a sig and it was clear from looking at their posts that that and only that was adding considerably to their totals.

    In the forums I moderate I ask people who have such texts in their sigs to please remove them as they are unfair to all the people who post equally good answers without such a sig. So far nobody has refused.   (I also edit their posts and remove the sigs that include it which might help them to make the right response to the request).

    FAQ sites: (SP 2010) http://wssv4faq.mindsharp.com; (v3) http://wssv3faq.mindsharp.com and (WSS 2.0) http://wssv2faq.mindsharp.com
    Complete Book Lists (incl. foreign language) on each site.
    Friday, February 19, 2010 12:21 PM
  • Interesting, who would have thought?

    John Grove - TFD Group, Senior Software Engineer, EI Division, http://www.tfdg.com
    Friday, February 19, 2010 5:33 PM
  • It actually works far too well. When I checked the list of top posters, far too many (not the very top people but close to the top for answers) people there had such a sig and it was clear from looking at their posts that that and only that was adding considerably to their totals.

    In the forums I moderate I ask people who have such texts in their sigs to please remove them as they are unfair to all the people who post equally good answers without such a sig. So far nobody has refused.   (I also edit their posts and remove the sigs that include it which might help them to make the right response to the request).

    I know I'd be pretty unlikely to refuse a request that a moderator made :)  I don't think it's in violation of any rules here.  And most of the ones I've seen have been pretty simple requests.  Is it the specific language they use in their signatures that you disagree with?  Why do you consider it to be "unfair"? 

    It's interesting to hear that this works so well in at least a few forums.  If it's that effective, perhaps it should be the default signature for people?
    Want to know if your current hardware & software will work with Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Windows 7 Compatibility Center**
    Monday, February 22, 2010 1:17 AM
  • You have your Microsoft (number of posts marked as answers is high means forum is good) hat on Mark.

    My point was that posts that were not worthy of being marked as answers were being marked as such solely because the poster of them had this in their sigs. (While posts that were far superior were not being marked). Unfair meant that posters of poor posts (but with such sigs) were higher up "the charts" than people with good posts who didn't have this in their sigs.

    Whereas having all sigs include this would level the playing ground just as much as having no sigs containing it, it would a) take up space for nothing b) get even more non-answers marked as answers than we now get (*).


    (*) may be good for MS statistics but it is not good for the forums. OPs want threads marked as answered when they are satisified with the answers in it not in order to produce PowerPoints that hover just below the 100% mark.
    FAQ sites: (SP 2010) http://wssv4faq.mindsharp.com; (v3) http://wssv3faq.mindsharp.com and (WSS 2.0) http://wssv2faq.mindsharp.com
    Complete Book Lists (incl. foreign language) on each site.
    Monday, February 22, 2010 7:25 AM
  • Whereas having all sigs include this would level the playing ground just as much as having no sigs containing it, it would a) take up space for nothing b) get even more non-answers marked as answers than we now get (*).
    As always, Mike Walsh tells it how it is.


    David Wilkinson | Visual C++ MVP
    Monday, February 22, 2010 2:59 PM
  • Walsh is a no nonsense guy. (I can imagine he is also a Sensei or at the least was formerly special forces)
    John Grove - TFD Group, Senior Software Engineer, EI Division, http://www.tfdg.com
    Monday, February 22, 2010 4:32 PM
  • You have your Microsoft (number of posts marked as answers is high means forum is good) hat on Mark.
    I do not own any such hat! :) I think my posts in this thread pretty clearly state that I don't agree with that process, though I understand why it is done.
    My point was that posts that were not worthy of being marked as answers were being marked as such solely because the poster of them had this in their sigs. (While posts that were far superior were not being marked).
    Then I'd agree with you that they shouldn't be marked as answers. Your previous post didn't make this clear. I got the impression that people were giving legitimate answers.
    Sounds also like some more education is needed for people on marking answers. It's still not easy enough to understand.
    Whereas having all sigs include this would level the playing ground just as much as having no sigs containing it, it would a) take up space for nothing b) get even more non-answers marked as answers than we now get
    You've said yourself that the suggestion in the sig works "far too well". So that seems to conflict with comment a) above.  I agree that b) isn't helping anyone.
    Want to know if your current hardware & software will work with Windows 7? Check out these links: **Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor ** **Windows 7 Compatibility Center**
    Tuesday, February 23, 2010 5:52 AM