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saldana-msft Posted · · edited ·

How to: Write a quality answer

How to: Write a quality answer

Microsoft Q&A envisions to have a high rate of answered questions and is committed to drive greater customer satisfaction. Quality answers give credibility to the answerer as well as to the community as a whole. It also encourages users to ask more questions as they know they will gain helpful insights.

A good answer typically gets accepted if it unblocks or points the Original Poster (OP/Asker/User) in the right direction and receives votes from other community members. An accepted quality answer helps other users find reliable answers quicker and supports the community.

This article aims to help you create quality answers by outlining best practices and guidelines.

Understand the question

First step in delivering a quality answer is to really understand the problem or the question raised by the user. Users sometimes leave out key details, assume that you know what their setup is, etc. If the question is too vague, to understand the question better it’s fine to clarify. Take a note of these points for consideration:

  • Make sure that you are confident you understand what is being asked before answering. Ask yourself; Do I clearly understand what the user is asking? Do I need to ask for clarification?

  • Use comments to get additional information or ask for more clarification from the person who asked the question. Sometimes additional context, a screenshot, or rephrasing makes a big difference.

Think of your audience

While answering the question to a specific user, you’re also helping as many users as we can with each answer, so add additional relevant information to your answer if the question is about a very specific scenario. Chances are good that someone will be looking for an answer to a similar question.

Break the answer into sections

Briefly rephrase and repeat the question in the answer, as necessary. Not only does this help communicate to the person who asked the question that you understand their problem but this helps hundreds (or thousands) of other customers who may be skimming through the conversation to see if your answer is relevant to their scenario.

Next, break your answer into sections or logical groups no more than a couple paragraphs long. The goal here is to create easily digestible chunks of instruction that are easy to navigate. If there are multiple relevant questions, clearly emphasize the respective answers in your post.

Provide step by step instructions

Your answer should be easily readable. It’s important for the reader to be able to focus on the task at hand and not on deciphering your answer. Step by step instructions can greatly help someone who is going back and forth between an answer and their own environment as they work through a solution. Remember to break up long lists of steps into logical groups (setup, deployment, etc.). Each step should be a single action (don’t over complicate a single step), and it should be easy to scan the list of instructions.

Add visuals

A picture really can be worth a thousand words. Be sure to include screenshots whenever possible and use boxes or arrows to highlight key areas. It can be time consuming to edit out sensitive information like subscription IDs but the most popular answers tend to be answers with screenshots to help illustrate what you are describing.

Screenshots should clearly show what you are trying to bring attention to, as well as context for the reader so they know where they are. Including a side or top navigation, or a breadcrumb trail may help readers understand where you are and how you got there. Add a border when possible, to separate screenshot text from answer text.

Add links

Share document or blog links but be cautious about where the link points to. Sometimes a blog or a document really is the perfect answer to a question. However, there are scenarios where a blog or document gets deleted or moves; this is very frustrating for users. You don’t have to copy a 5 page blog, but do try to include an overview of what is being accomplished and leave at least enough of a breadcrumb trail that someone could search for the answer if your link disappears one day.
The preferred method is to include a link within the body of text for optional information, and a full link followed by quoted text for key information. Exercise caution while sharing third-party links for their legitimacy.

Follow through

Close your answer by asking the customer: Is there a fix for a bug they encountered? Did your solution solve their problem?

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Thank you very much
I will apply some of these tips on my blog

2 Votes 2 ·

Nainstaloval jsem na Win.10 tiskárnu Brother DCP-195C podle návodu. Všechny parametry ukazují že je vše v pořádku, ale tiskárna na tisk nereaguje.
Velice Vám děkuji za odpověď. Honza

1 Vote 1 ·

Okki kokki :-) :-)

0 Votes 0 ·

I am already lost. I was on my Norton/Lifelock page and immediately the Microsoft page appeared for me to logon. I have done so but am I on the correct area? I recently was hacked and need to add additional devices to my Norton/Locklock acct. Can you help me.?

0 Votes 0 ·

Which page did you want to go to, Donna?

0 Votes 0 ·
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