Interview with the Microsoft MVP and Forum Moderator Tom Lambert (Koopakiller)



Hello everybody. I am glad that I was able to interview Tom Lambert, also known as Koopakiller, for our Forum Ninjas Blog. He is a 20 year old German student who is mostly active inside the German forums.

The MSDN statistics shows

  • over 7000 replies on the forums (with 3300 replies marked as answer and 5900 helpful replies)
  • 24 publications on the galleries with over 8000 downloads
  • 2800 additions to the translation wiki
  • 54 medals (12 gold, 14 silver and 28 bronze)

I think that is quite impressive for just 5 years and when looking at the „global ranking“, then we see that he is one of the top 100 active people on MSDN.

Tom Lambert Tom Lambert (Koopakiller)

Tom, can you introduce yourself and tell us something how your interest in computing started?

I am Tom Lambert; some better know me as Koopakiller. I am a 20-year-old German student with a deep interest in technology and the theoretical part behind.
Roughly ten years ago I started experimenting with electronic components, and I discovered how they work. I found it kind of interesting, and my circuits got larger and larger. But my pocket money was not high enough to buy ongoing new components, and because a fascinating thing were the gate circuits, three years later I tried to write little programs in C/C++.

But my success was pretty small. It was easier to write a program instead of building a circuit, but I was not able to do a lot with my little knowledge about software.

At the End of 2011, I discovered C#. This language is at the first view pretty similar to C++, but it was much easier to me to write larger programs with a User Interface. But I still have had some questions and asked them in the German MSDN Forum. It took around six months until I started answering a lot of questions. I noticed how much fun I have with helping others and simultaneously learning new stuff.

Now, after five years I am learned C# in detail and VB.NET and F# in the basics. SQL, R and some other languages are “my friends” now too. My learning curve got a steep increase, and my current interests are widely scattered, I often use WPF, UWP, Entity Framework, ASP.NET, all the Core versions, SQL and much more.

What does “Koopakiller” mean?

I hear this question pretty often. It is my name for more than five years on different platforms but roughly two hand full people know the short story behind it.
It is easy to guess what it means if you know Super Mario. There are turtle-enemies which are called Koopas. And the day before I registered me for the MSDN Forums I played a game of this series with my little brother. Because I rescued him often from the turtles he called me “Koopakiller” and I had no better idea for a name.

Who has impressed you in the Forums community, and why?

In 2012 as I started with answering questions, I was pretty impressed by a lot of people. Today I remember especially on three, and they are MVPs too. They are Stefan Falz, Elmar Boye and Peter Fleischer. They all answer many questions and know what they do. I am still impressed how many people spend so much time in online forums to help others without expecting any consideration.

When do you answer questions?

Last 5 Years I answered questions often during the informatics education. It was no problem for me because I often already knew the stuff to learn. But now I use my free time in the evening primarily because there I can explore new stuff I am interested in, but which I am currently not able to use in my job. Apropos job, if I find there a question I can answer I write a post then too. But I will not look during my working hours into the forum without a problem to solve.

Do you have any tips for people asking questions on MSDN/TechNet Forums?

I read many questions without the necessary information, so we were not able to answer them without asking a question back. To ask these questions, we need time, and the thread starter needs time to answer them. So the answering process requires more time than necessary.
So simply read the question after you wrote it and thought about it: Would you understand it without any foreknowledge? Yes? Then it is probably well written. No? Improve it.
Another thing is that you always remember yourself that we clarify the questions mostly in our free time. It is voluntarily, and that’s why we not always respond instant. We try to answer as much as possible but unfortunately we do not have experts in all areas.
The Forums are community driven that’s why our reputation is sometimes like our fuel. Please vote up helpful posts and mark answers after all problems cleared. (You can mark more than one post as an answer in the MSDN Forum, which is often useful).

Do you have any tips for people answering questions on MSDN/TechNet Forums?

I recognized that when I write well-explained responses, I got more good feedback. It is easy to write a lot of posts and got a lot of answers. But I assume it is often better to explain in detail what happened and help the asker understand the issue.
Next time the same user has a similar problem, he will hopefully think about the answer(s) he got instead of asking a new question instantly. Answering questions are not solving concrete problems but helping people to understand how to solve problems.

Do you have any tips for moderators of MSDN/TechNet Forums?

Answerers are not the same as moderators. I am a moderator of some German forums for some years now. I can mark an answer with one click like the thread starter, but does this help? I do not think so.

If you are a moderator, you should ask the thread starter if he needs further assistance or if he has some other problems why he did not mark an answer so far. If you mark the thread as finished, it does not help the asker, but it could anger him.

How do you spread your knowledge outside the Forums?

I am primarily staying in the German MSDN Forums. I very seldom look into the US version or on Stack Overflow. But more than 90% of my forum activities are at my well known German community.
Outside the Forums, I frequent publishing Snippets on (My Profile) and on the English site (My Profile). And of course I have a GitHub account, but there are pretty few activities because I do not have a really active project yet.

You are a MVP, what does this mean for you?

Three years ago, I was nominated to get the MVP award. I was well integrated into the online community, but I never met a forum member in real life. Now, the greatest thing to be an MVP is the community and to exchange the knowledge with its members. I've met 2 or 3 MVPs that I know from the Forums, one at local events in Germany and the others at the MVP Global Summit in Redmond, USA.

What plans do you have for your future?

This year I finished my A level, and now I could have some months of free time. But I did not relax a lot because I work at HeiReS currently. It is a local software development company in Dresden and a Microsoft Partner.

In 3 weeks my employment contract ends, then I want to study in Germanys Capital Berlin. But not computer science, my primary subject will be mathematics. I am primarily interested in gate circuits. It's all the same, logical operators and programming with single bits are my great passion. The mathematical aspect of programming is the fascinating thing. Databases, programming languages and so on all use mathematical “features”. So I don't leave the software development behind, I do a bit more research in the basics of our computers.

I know, studying math includes much more than the mentioned subjects and it's not all to do with computers. This variety is perfect for me because it will open my mind to new areas. And now I think it is pretty good to leave the computer turned off some days.

Thank you very much for this great interview Tom.

I hope that you found this interview as interesting as I did. It was great to get in touch and hear more about Tom who has impressed me with all his contributions. Let us all wish him success and fun for his upcoming studies. I'm looking forward to read more about his great contributions in the future.

- Konrad Neitzel (MSDN)