How to post effectively in Forums

One of my jobs here is to manage MSDN Forums, and I manage a lot of them, over 70 at this point.  I have been using and managing threaded conversation properties for a long time, for instance I was the guy who deleted all the Spam from the newsgroups here for a couple of years.  I also post in several different Forums for my personal interests outside of work, and it has been a decided area of study of mine for many years now.  So, having now established my credibility on the subject, here’s some things that you should remember when posting:

1.       Be courteous – people who are answering your post do not have to – this goes for MSFT Employees, MVPs, and anyone else that is hanging out and answering questions.  In any Forum, there is generally not a “staff” who answers, it is Community based support.  If you are rude, you will not get an answer as easily as if you are courteous and thankful.

2.       Please don’t use all caps!  This, in the Internet world, is “screaming” and not only is it rude, it says something else about you as a poster.  It means you do not respect or care about the “etiquette” of the Forum, and this refers to #1 above.

3.       Be descriptive – the more detail you give, the better the chance you have of getting an answer.  Include things such as the OS you are using, what version of the product you are using, error messages you might be getting, and exactly what you are trying to do.  This is not easy sometimes, as you have all the context of your project in your head 24/7, but we don’t, so help us to help you as much as possible.

4.       Search before you post – if you are posting a question that is answered in a FAQ, or has also been answered in the Forum recently, that is also quite “rude”, see #1 above.  You are more likely to get help if you have showed that you have put some effort into finding a solution.  Plus, it will mean you don’t have the initial issues in a problem, and your issue will actually get solved more quickly because the question you do post will be several steps down the line toward the final solution.

5.       If someone answers your post – mark it as an answer, give points to the answerer, say Thank You, etc.  When you come back, people will be more inclined to answer your question again, as they will look you up and see you are one of the Good Guys.  This also keeps the regular Forums denizens from having to do maintenance work in the Forums and allows them more time to answer questions – like yours!

6.       Try and post in the correct Forum – if you can at least get close to the topic area, we can spend less time re-routing your post and more time answering questions.  Blindly dumping a post in the wrong Forum does nobody any good, and will result in a much lower chance of you getting the answer you need.

7.       Ask one question only per thread – this is a suggestion from an old friend, Cor Ligthert, who left a comment to this post.  If you have multiple questions, post them in multiple threads, so that the folks who answer a lot of questions can answer them concisely.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you will not only increase the chances of you getting an answer to your question, but you will also be helping everyone else in the Forum.  And, if you know the answer to something you see while waiting for an answer, why not take the “next step” and answer a question yourself?


Comments (11)

  1. Darren Monroe says:

    Hi Ed forums have been around for years. Isn’t it a shame that you even had to post this? Not so much regarding here butin general. There is a post like this regarding rules in every forum that seems common sense to me (a new guy here) .

    But I guess common sense is not so….common LOL

    Idea: there should be universal rules of posting that everyone should be able to link to in a wiki fashion.

  2. edhickey says:

    I know – but sadly, I got the idea for this post as I had to go through several of my Forums the other day  and I saw every one of these "rules" violated.  Feel free to link to this in any Wiki if you want to.

  3. Cor says:

    Hi Ed,

    Nice and descriptive.

    However, I know more does not real help much, but overthink this one to add.

    Do one question at a time, trying to get a kind of course has never given any usable answer in a forum.

    (In your own words, if you don't understand it, I'm sure you can find somewhere my email address)

    See You,


  4. Michael Donery says:

    Hi my name is michael donery i am a pedofile who cannot get ovewr my addiction to children can you help me in a direction????

  5. freezer says:

    how to post in colour…i mean the font

  6. Nila says:

    Hi, I want to share this website with everybody, make money from home, and it's totally free and you can make money today, just click on this site, thank you..

  7. surya says:

    thank you.

    it is very helpful to us

    and keep posting like this….

  8. Alice Thomas says:

    These are unsecured money options and you do not have to place any collateral. In this way you do not require to put any valuable assets 400 pound loan today @ at lenders risk. However you are ensuring that you avail amount that you can easily repay on time. These sums  are to be paid back to lenders after getting your salary of this month. These are the plans that are allowed by lenders with no credit checks and you will get sum despite you are having poor credit status.1000 pound sum is borrowed from these schemes.

  9. USMAN HAMMER says:

    Do you need a loan,We are Legitimate and Reputable money Lender.

    We are a company with financial assistance.We loan funds out to individuals

    in need of financial assistance,that have a bad credit or in need of

    money to pay bills,to invest on business. I want to use this medium to inform

    you that we render reliable beneficiary assistance as I'll be glad to offer you a

    loan. Services Rendered include,

    *Debt Consolidation

    *Business Loans

    *Personal Loans

    Please write back if interested with our interest rate

    of 0.2%per annual. Upon Response, you'll be mailed a Loan application


  10. Nicole says:

    HOW TO MAKE $100,000.00 DOLLARS IN 20 -90 DAYS….. Just be a part of the chain.

    Send $1.00 to each of the 6 names and addresses stated in the article. You then place your own name and address in the bottom of the list at #6, and post the article in at least 200 newsgroups, social media, wherever. No catch, that was it. So after thinking it over, and talking to a few people first, I thought about trying it. I figured: "what have I got to lose except 6 stamps and $6.00, right?" Then I invested the measly $6.00.

    Well GUESS WHAT!?… within 7 days, I started getting money in the mail! I was shocked! I figured it would end soon, but the money just kept coming in. In my first week, I made about $25.00. By the end of the second week I had made a total of over $1,000.00! In the third week I had over $10,000.00 and it's still growing. This is now my fourth week and I have made a total of just over $42,000.00 and it's still coming in rapidly.

    First, get 6 separate pieces of paper and write down your name and address followed by the words "PLEASE ADD ME TO YOUR MAILING LIST" on each of them. Now get 6 US $1.00 bills and place ONE inside EACH of the 6 pieces of paper so the bill will not be visible through the envelope (to prevent thievery). Next, place one paper in each of the 6 envelopes and seal them. You should now have 6 sealed envelopes, each with a piece of paper stating the above phrase, your name and address, and a $1.00 bill. What you are doing is creating a service.

    Mail the 6 envelopes to the following addresses:  

    1.)Kyle P. 1325 Tonti St. LaSalle, IL.USA 61301  2.) Rucci 418 Wilcox Street Carnegie, Pa. 15106  3.) Stefan B. 2903 Marquette Rd. Peru, IL. USA 61354  4.) Cody Neely, P.O. box 472, Sylvania Ga. USA  30467  5.)Sarah Mccully, 8818 w 88th st overland park, ks, USA 66212 6.) Jason Vega, 5013 N Melvina Ave. Chicago IL 60630

    Now take the #1 name off the list that you see above, move the other names up (6 becomes 5, 5 becomes 4, etc…) and add YOUR NAME as number 6 on the list.  Change anything you need to, but try to keep this article as close to original as possible. Now, post your amended article to at least 200 newsgroups. (I think there are close to 24,000 groups) PLEASE REMEMBER that this program remains successful because of the honesty and integrity of the participants and by their carefully adhering to the directions. Look at it this way. If you are of integrity, the program will continue and the money that so many others have received will come your way.  What an opportunity for only $6.00 ($1.00 for each of the first six people listed above) Send it now, add your own name to the list and you're in business!

  11. Avit Investment says:

    Greetings to you by ADIA.

    We are a France-Paris based investment company known as Avit

    Development Investment Authority working on expanding its portfolio

    globally and financing projects.

    We would be happy to fund and invest with you in any profitable

    project if you have any viable project we can finance by making mutual

    investment with you. If you are interested, kindly contact us for more details.

    Looking forward hearing from you soonest.

    Yours truly,

    Mrs Kristina Anderson

    (Personal Assistant)

    Avit Development Investment Authority(ADIA)

    501 Avenue Montaigne,75008 Paris-France

    Paris-France.Avit Development Investment Authority (ADIA)