In my post about the “Death Of Usenet” Joku left a great comment with two ideas that I wanted to share with a broader audience. Maybe its lazy blogging, but I haven’t had much time lately and I thought his comment was a good read.
1. Do not to Close Comments after 30 Days! An alternative to CAPTCHA.
“There has been reported increasing amount of interesting topics of discussion at blogs.msdn.com, however at same time comment facilities are closing for older posts, presumably for a) the fear of spam b) no interest to hear about old subjects long forgotten.
For point a) there has been many suggestions for captcha instead of closing the comments permanently. Now I personally hate those stup*d images with obfuscated numbers, so here’s the simple variation of mine that would apply well to the msdn blogs environment:
Instead of the image&number, give the blog owner a personal preference setting to replace the Submit button easily with a question about the blog owner, upon typing the answer – pressing the enter key would submit the comment. captcha: “my last name” a: “ledgard”. Or if you wanted to be nasty, it could be something that requires reading your first blog entry/bio perhaps. Upon entering this captcha correct the first time, .NET users could have one click installable app which receives some sort of key invisibly from a page that is shown upon entering the captcha – this would be generated on the base of IP address the blogging software sees. The user end program would then use this key along with the blog url to remove the need to enter the captcha again.
Also to avoid the blog owners email being ‘spammed’ with stupid, but non-spam, comments like this in the past blogs, there could be a threshold such that only comments to newer blogs would inform the blog owner through (email/instant means), comments to older blogs would be available in one page view where you could just view the comment the subject of the blog where it was written on quickly by hovering mouse over or similar no-clicking method. This would allow everyone to comment and even discuss on past topics of interest at blogs.msdn, without having the blog owner being drowned in instant notifications/emails.
And why do I whine about this instead of blogging about this? Well I do not see every MS employee with a blog, some may not even want to have one for free – but they still want to make occasional comment and instead of just two way discussion, have the comments of interesting blog subject act more as a discussion conversing on one place instead of scattering in many blogs which may have comments closed etc. The blog owner may not care about the past topic anymore, but there’s many who do! “
2. MS Hosted Combintation Feedback Center, Community Generated FAQs, and Spec Server
“And what about the people in MS usenet groups who need help for their particular issue can may not have blog? Well I’m thinking Big, like something like more end user centered, but still very connected with MS, approach on combining the PFC with ability to let users help each other and find the issues. There’s already a community at PFC, sort of – this can not be seen on MS internal tools I hear – cause they do not see the comments on bug/suggestion that anyone can write. This concept could be taken so much further. Certainly there would need to separate the “authoritative” answers and KB related content by some visual cue from the community content regarding those issues. Sort of like PHP online manual, where you have the “specs” of how things how and then the community of developers talking about how to make use of the methods etc. With MS running the server for this system, they could get statistics for popularity of those issues and also give authoritative comments regarding what MS is going to do about those in future releases.
And who would code and pay for all that? Changing face does not come for free, blogs & Channel 9 & PFC are a good start, but target mostly developers. But I would think in the end you want the big message of Change to target bigger audience. From technical standpoint the PFC would need more powerful and much more fast means to find if my issue is already on the database. Such would be most appropriate to run locally for best UX and the search should find the issue even if Joe spells technical word wrong and incorporate something along the lines of the clustered menu used in www.vivisimo.com clustered search (beats google if your trying to find hardware reviews for example..).. I could go on and on ;)”