Takeaways from the MVP Summit

Another MVP Summit has come and gone.  Maybe it was the fact that I was busy moving the weekend before it started, but wow, it just seemed to fly by!  I had the opportunity to meet with some great MVPs that I've been working with in the forums, sit in on the Microsoft.com community team's discussion about forums (thanks Alan!), and attend a few C# community sessions (thanks Charlie!)  Here are a few takeaways I got from listening to MVPs talk about community (and online discussion in particular):

  • Offline Support in Forums Must Happen - Many, many MVPs love NNTP--they've been using newsgroups for over a decade, and they weren't thrilled with my insistence that forums are the wave of the future.  Why not?  Because MVPs contribute a huge volume of posts to online discussions, and the "click-and-wait" style of our web forums is awful for them to try and be as prolific.  I agree.  First step:  we're fixing the broken RSS feeds in the forums.  Longer term:  the Microsoft.com Communities Team heard the message loud and clear...I'm hoping there's a real solution for offline support in forums in the future.
  • Our community channels are disconnected - The MSDN Forums don't integrate with the Developer Centers on MSDN.  You have to go to Connect to file a bug and the forums to ask a question.  Only Microsofties can have blogs on blogs.msdn.com, but there are MVPs that have blogs on weblogs.asp.net.  Channel9 is completely separate from the MSDN Forums.  What's going on here?  It was clear after hearing this a couple of times that integrating the channels more closely is wanted.  We also need to talk more to the other teams doing "community"...
  • I'll give you feedback...but you better act on it - I'll thank Nick for this feedback.  We've asked for feedback on the forums time and time again--for the NNTP sync that we had setup, for a never-really-released offline client solution for the forums, and for the forums themselves.  We have done a terrible job looping back with the people who have given up their own time to help us make our products better.  If we are going to fix a bug in the forums, we should let people know when and how.  If we aren't going to fix the bug, we should say why.  Simply saying "thanks for the feedback, we hope to fix this soon" is just a polite way of telling somebody to buzz off.  If we expect to build trust in the community, the first step is taking real action on their feedback.
Comments (5)

  1. It was great meeting you at MVP summit Joe, and I have to thank you for the acknowledgement on point #3.

    Of course, I meant what I said about acting on it =)

  2. Josh Ledgard, a program manager in Microsoft's Developer Division, has posted some details on the

  3. Julien ÉLIE says:

    I wish to give you a feedback regarding NNTP.  I reckon it should be great to have both a web access and a NNTP access to forums.microsoft.com (like microsoft.public.*) because it is much more efficient to use newsgroups when we participate in lots of groups.  Even a read-only NNTP access would be interesting (in order to prevent spam) and a link to the current web-based thread could be added at the end of each NNTP read-only article (for us to be able to reply) and also saying that only web-based replies will be shown (that is to say your news server will not accept incoming feeds, so no exterior spam will appear in your news server).

    Furthermore, such read-only NNTP newsgroups could be archived in other places (like Google Groups, which provides read-only archives for some other « private » Usenet hierarchies, and during more that 7 years!).

    Another idea would be to allow to post with Windows Live ID authentication (nntp/ssl easily handles authentication).

  4. MSDN Archive says:

    NNTP doesn’t support advanced features that forums do, especially moderation and answer marking.  I’d rather see a web service that allows the creation of an offline client than trying to patch a bunch of extensions on a 1980’s-style protocol that was never built with web forums in mind.

    As for read-only access, we will be releasing a service pack to the forums soon that has enhanced RSS feeds–you can use RSS to read and browse the forums (including replies) just like you would an old-style NNTP client.

  5. Julien ÉLIE says:

    Thanks for your answer.  Newsgroups will be newsgroups and forums will be forums; each one has its advantages and its drawbacks.  Maybe they who prefer newsgroups do not care about answer marking.  Regarding moderation, any article can be cancelled or superseded with NNTP.

    Thanks for the Service Pack adding enhanced RSS feeds.  I hope these feeds will not be sucked to go to Usenet without your consent.  Indeed, rss2nntp connectors already exist and work pretty well; and it would be better if Microsoft itself provides NNTP and not other people (as we cannot know what they would choose as for the names of the newsgroups, the quality of the feed, etc.).

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