MSDN Forums Moderation: Deleting Posts


Any user can delete their own posts on the MSDN forums.  The “Delete Post” option exists for moderators just to the right of the “Edit Post” link.  Messages that are off-topic, inappropriate, or add no value to the forum should be deleted. 


Keep in mind again that the goals of this community are to help solve user’s problems where users defined as both the set of people who actually post and the users who will be searching from Visual Studio, MSN, Google, etc.


Every deleted message should include a reason, and that reason should consist of a concise description of why the post was inappropriate. 
 
Valid Reasons to Delete a Post



  • Spam – Should be deleted outright.  Responding to a question with a link to a product that resolves the question is okay, but watch out for posters who overuse this technique.  If you see a particular user abusing this privilege, contact the other moderators about it with links to the offending posts.
  • Posts that leverage the forums as part of a spamming spree – If a user is leveraging the forum system in anyway for spamming purposes to draw unneeded attention to themselves the post should be deleted and the user warned.  An example would be someone who posts a topic them spams blog comments to redirect users to the forum topic that was, likely, spam itself. 
  • Duplicates – Messages that are duplicated across several forums (or the same forum) should be deleted.  Use your judgment to ensure that original post is placed in the most appropriate forum. Today the software will attempt to detect duplicate posts, but persistent users will still make changes and cross post in several forums. This is akin to spamming and only makes the job of the answerers all that much harder. 
  • Non-English Posts – Posts that are not in English should be moved to the appropriate foreign language forum (if one exists). 
  • Incomprehensible – Posts that are, in your opinion, too poorly written to be understood should be deleted with a request for clarification and rewording.  Similarly, posts that do not provide any details to help in answering the user’s question should be similarly rejected with a request for more information.
  • User Abuse – If the poster is being abusive of other users, just delete the post explaining this reason.  Moderators should not show any toleration to user abuse.
  • Broken Threads With No Value – If a user posts a question that requires answers to follow-up questions from the community in order to properly answer and the person who asked the question does not provide the follow-up for 30 days then the posts should be removed and the issue considered closed.  They can always repost thier question. 

Comments suggestions appreciated. Update: Keep in mind this is all about the MSDN forums and not my blog. I have a different set of standards I use for moderating my blog. 

Comments (11)

  1. michkap says:

    Speaking personally, I find the ‘non-English posts’ reason to be a little thin, especially as resources in all languages do not exist.

    Over 60% of Microsoft’s overall market is outside the US, and between 70% and 100% of those people do not want or speak English. That policy will retrict a huge piece of the market….

  2. MSDNArchive says:

    Michael: I should amend the statement to be that there are non-ENU resources that people should be pointed to and when VS ships in other languages there will be forums for those langauges as well. The problem really is with the search results filtering. We can’t set language per thread or per post.

  3. Norman Diamond says:

    Your proposed amendment to the following falls far short.

    > Non-English Posts – Posts that are not in

    > English should be moved to the appropriate

    > foreign language forum (if one exists).

    English already is a foreign language. Sometimes Microsoft doesn’t want to remember that Microsoft operates in this country (and in several dozen others) but nonetheless Microsoft steamrolls the marketplace just as it does in other countries. And then we can’t even get an MUI to add English or other foreign languages onto Windows XP or 2003.

    > Otherwise, these should be rejected with the

    > reason specified that posts to these forums

    > should be made in English-only for now, and

    > a link to available International newsgroups

    > or forums.

    No wonder Microsoft’s domestic products have so many more bugs than English-language versions do. Of course English-language versions are bad enough, with bugs that can cause destruction of all files in a hard disk partition persisting even into Windows 2003. But then other language versions are worse because Microsoft rejects bug reports.

    Try this: Accept the posts. If you can’t reply then don’t reply. Allow possible replies by anyone who knows how to reply. And maybe just maybe, if Microsoft’s employees in this country include possibly any VC++ programmers or Windows 2003 users, some of them might even be able to reply (if they have time and permission to do so).

    Also consider cases where a post might be partly in English and partly in Japanese, just like the MSDN library is. You ought to accept it, just like my colleagues accept MSDN.

  4. I’ve been working on putting together a set of forum ownership requirements and moderation guidelines…

  5. I’ve been working on putting together a set of forum ownership requirements and moderation guidelines…

  6. MSDNArchive says:

    Norman: I’m all for making a change, but keep in mind the following:

    Idealy technogy should read the language and tag it appropriately. But since these forums are hooked up to product search we actually have a localization requirement to honer the users VS language settings and return posts in the language (ENU or Non-ENU) that they specified. This is currently only way we can do that is to keep languages bucketized

    What I’m saying is that there is no capability in the software to tag posts by language at the post level.

    That’s why there’s always been .fr and .es tagged developer newsgroups as well. In order to keep the langauges seperated for searchability within each langauge.

    What would you propose we do to ensure that if I search for only german posts I get back only german posts. And if I search for only italian and english posts I get back only italian and english posts?

  7. Igor Damiani says:

    i read your comments in my blog http://blogs.ugidotnet.org/idamiani.

    I translate for you my post. :-)

    some days ago, some italian bloggers (me and others) have spoken about moderations in blog and forum. I disagree with moderations, I prefer to obtain auto-moderation from each member of the community (referred to OT post, for example, or other "dangerous" topics like politics, religion, etc.)

    Although my position about moderation, I think that this post is very interesting, because you try to find some rules to apply moderations!

    Sorry for my English! :-)

  8. MSDNArchive says:

    Igor: For blogs I probably agree with you. Forums, however, are a different beast. I didn’t think much of a need for moderation until I started watching the MSDN forums. There really are people who are abusive, posts that need to be removed, and people that spam the system. For now the best option we have is to nominate several community members to help moderate. I don’t want MS to be in complete control of the system. I want the community to leverage the tools we build to help police themselves.

  9. I’ve been working on putting together a set of forum ownership requirements and moderation guidelines…

  10. Norman Diamond says:

    Thursday, June 30, 2005 9:53 PM by jledgard

    > Norman: I’m all for making a change, but

    > keep in mind the following:

    > Idealy technogy should read the language and

    > tag it appropriately.

    That ideal can be pretty tough. I’d put priorities elsewhere. Like for example (as stated) don’t reject an article just because of its language. If you can’t read it then don’t read it.

    There have been occasions when I’ve replied in English to a question in Japanese or replied in English to a question in French. In the latter case the answer was simple enough that I would be capable of writing it in Japanese, so I added after the answer in English: "I could read enough French to read your question. If you complain about my answer in English then I’ll write it in Japanese." Anyway in both cases there were no complaints. If the questioners couldn’t read my answers then they still had to wait the same length of time that they would wait if I hadn’t answered.

    > That’s why there’s always been .fr and .es

    > tagged developer newsgroups as well. In

    > order to keep the langauges seperated for

    > searchability within each langauge.

    OK but that’s a separate issue. For comparison, Google provides options to restrict search results to specified languages. If a searcher wants to restrict their results then fine, let them. Just don’t make me restrict mine.

    Last week I had occasion to discover just how much of MSDN is missing from the .ja edition of MSDN. That plus a few laughable translations (like saying in Japanese that some operations are using ASCII when actually those operations use Shift-JIS (then there are also occasions where operations really do use ASCII and the documentation accurately reports the virtual unusability of those things, but that’s a separate matter)). Anyway most employers have a few employees who can speak English, but that’s pretty far removed from the hypothesis that most employees speak English. The amount of work needed to fix up the Japanese version of MSDN is maybe an order of magnitude more than the English version, and it beats me how your company justifies charging money for it.