While nobody has won the $500 bounty I placed on a set of repro steps (for a nasty bug that I’m still chasing down), that particular blog post sparked a bunch of interest. Sure, one could attribute it to the price tag I had on the bug’s head, but you’d be amazed at the amount of responses along the lines of “while I don’t have the answer, this piece of info might be helpful.”
Which got me thinking about a few things …
Judging from both the quantity & quality of responses I received, there’s genuine interest not only in the OCS community, but the Microsoft community as a whole in terms of providing quick, relevant feedback. While we have structured programs in place that recognize these contributions (MVP for example), perhaps there’s a more “informal” approach that doesn’t have any barriers to entry other than providing relevant feedback via a blog form. Something as simple as “Hey, I’m hitting this same issue, too” goes a long way for me in terms of driving compelling discussions with our Developers, Testers, and Program Managers as for why they should fix a particular bug.
While I’m probably the last to the crowdsourcing party (but perhaps the first from Microsoft), I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the “Power of the Crowd.” But wait Scott: don’t you debug code? Yes, and I recognize this is in stark contrast to how programs are debugged. Usually, it’s mono e mono. Insert Don LaFontaine/Pablo Francisco voice here … “One man, one debugger.” Aside: I’ve opened for Pablo; he’s out of his mind, but a very cool person and it was a blast watching him wreck a room (and an honor sharing the stage with him). Back to my point … while I still haven’t connected the dots in terms of how I can combine the two (collective crowd knowledge & debugging), my gut tells me there’s value in exploring this further. Feedback encouraged.
There’s a huge emphasis on an initiative within Microsoft Customer Support Services dubbed “Front of the Funnel” work. This is essentially work performed by support engineering staff that is customer-facing, and equips the customer with the knowledge needed to resolve their issue (without having to pickup the phone & call Microsoft for help). Think blogs, whitepapers, KBs, Webcasts, Online Crash Analysis, etc. Along these lines, I’m going to make a concerted effort to write-up post-mortem reports on issues we’ve resolved, and get these posted to our blogs. With the exception of hotfix-specific Knowledge Base articles, KB articles are pretty much dead. And publishing these “resolution posts” via blogs cuts right through the red tape … so it only makes sense. If I can post the resolution & save you a phone call to MSFT / support incident, we both win.
I guess my point is that I learned a lot from my “Wanna win $500” post; way more than I ever expected! So don’t be surprised if you start seeing more “request for repro steps” via my blog, and the more you give me, the more I’ll give back. Ultimately, I’d hope this trend would catch on not only within my team, group, and org, but across all of Microsoft Customer Support Services. But that’s the optimist in me.