All good things must come to an end. Well, that, and all pretty lousy things must come to an end as well. J About two weeks ago, the internal team that “owns” the Visual Studio General forum came to me with a problem. “The Visual Studio General forum doesn’t have questions that map to what we do…it’s nothing but a dumping ground of questions of random questions that nobody knows where to post.” I took a look through the forum, and found that it was true—the reason for the Visual Studio General forum to exist was not to get people answers to their questions—it was to give people a place to ask the question when they just couldn’t find the right forum to post in to.
Now, the MSDN Forums have grown to the point where the homepage of the forums is very, very intimidating. In fact, it’s downright broken—even Josh and I typically use “CTRL+F” to find the title of the forum we’re looking for. Don’t know what I mean? Go to http://forums.microsoft.com/msdn and find the forum to ask a question about the Power Toys for Visual Studio. Quick! If you actually did it without using “Find”, it probably took over fifteen seconds. Fifteen seconds is a long time to be scrolling around on a homepage.
I think that there’s a longer-term technical solution to this problem—a deeper forum hierarchy and the ability for users to assign tags to individual forums and search on those tags would greatly help discoverability. Unfortunately, every forum feature beyond (and sometimes including) a text change or basic CSS change involves creating a proposal, getting people to agree to the proposal, getting the team that actually works on the forums platform bought into the proposal, and then hoping that *sometime* down the road you see that feature. It’s not because the team isn’t working hard on the forums—but there’s dozens of pieces of low-hanging fruit that would make the site better, and the homepage navigation problem is just one of them.
Anyways, we’ve decided to close the “Visual Studio General” forum, likely by the first week of July. We are going to take care to move the most viewed threads from that forum to more appropriate forums on the site, and if you have a thread to suggest to make sure it “lives” after the transition, you should let me know.
As part of this closing, we are creating a new forum, at the top of the forum homepage, called “Help Me Find Where to Post My Question”. This forum is simply for helping *finding* the right forum—it will not be for any technical Q&A. Bhanu, our awesome team member who administrates and super-moderates the MSDN site, will be the primary router/owner, and many of our most passionate community moderators have signed up to pitch in. Think of it as a “welcome wagon” for newbie users to the forums.
My hope is that this forum helps cut down on off-topic posts all around the site, and if nothing else, will get rid of that low-answer-rate-rathole called “Visual Studio General”.