A few weeks back, I sparked a fun and unusual Sunday Surprise blog post:
That sparked some good discussions, including this one, about why it's valuable to propose and mark answers:
"I have little different request, I want to be moderator in Below forums. I am sorry but I do not mark answer, I will definitely propose it. I want to be moderator to keep threads clean and make sure they are on correct forum and other such things, which I won’t be able to do if I am answerer."- Shanky
"Yes, please at least propose answers. Spam is very important too, but proposing and marking answers is what keeps forums from drying up where we still keep people motivated to answer questions." - Ed
My point there is that by proposing and marking answers, we motivate people to help others. Sometimes it's just subconscious. It's not like we are answering questions just to get our answers marked. But at the same time, we feel appreciated. And the bottom line is that more people answer questions when they get their answers proposed, marked, and voted helpful. Whether or not you disagree with showing that gratitude or not, the fact is that it helps significantly. It creates a fun and positive environment that becomes more enjoyable.
With that environment, more people help answer questions. Otherwise, without that environment, you end up with a forum where the questions still roll through, but no one is there to answer them. That's what we want to avoid.
That leads to the next discussion from the previous comments:
"I’d like to help but just want to ask first, is there a way we can get a list of forum that lacks answerer? I see that lots of major forums have a few answerers already." - Cheong
"Well, I see it as supply and demand. If there are a lot of forum posts that go by without an Answerer or Mod to check them and propose the right answer… then the current supply of Answerers hasn’t met the demand (the need). There could be 300 Answerers, but it means they either aren’t doing the tasks or there is a ton more traffic than the existing Answerers can handle." - Ed
I think I explained it fairly well. It really doesn't matter if there are 300 or 500 moderators or answerers. If there are questions being answered, and no one is proposing or marking them, then the people who contributed their time and expertise aren't feeling as appreciated as they could be. And that's the key ingredient to a healthy community. So that's why we do promotions like this blog post: Sunday Surprise – One Week Offer: Reply here to become an MSDN/TechNet Forum Answerer.
Also, this blog post highlights a method that we use in forum threads to recruit answerers: Featured Forum Thread – Recruiting BizTalk Answerers.
Some people think it's a hierarchical system and would rather not be involved as a Moderator or anything with an official title. And do you know what? That's good. We still greatly appreciate their community contributions. We're still humbled by their help.
So hopefully that all sheds a little transparency around the "why" behind the thinking of proposing answers, marking answers, voting posts as being helpful, and promoting people to the role of helping mark answers. Of course, there are a lot of nuances to marking answers, like how we try to get the OP to mark them. You can read more about all those details in the Forum Moderation Guidelines.
If you have any questions or comments on this, please reply below in the comments!
May the Forums be with you! (Don't like Star Wars? Ronen has a sign-off that's more for Trekies.)
- Ninja Ed