What does it mean to Participate in the MSDN forums?


Greetings on this Beautiful Day!!

Today we continue the Thursday Best Practices series with another article on Forums Life.

In my day to day office life I come across various people who ask me the same question why do you contribute to the MSDN forums, what do you get out of it? Does it pay extra money? What is your drive behind it?? Why do you answer the questions on the Forums?

Today I will try to explore the reasons behind participating in forums.  In my experience in answering the questions and contributing to the Forums can have some obvious and some not so obvious rewards. Let’s have a look at these rewards one by one.

The Obvious Rewards:

  • Recognition Points: MSDN has a strong recognition system where various medals and points are given to the answerer. Each medal requires some set of feats to be performed while answering the questions on forum. E.g.: Code Answerer 1 Achievement is unlocked when the answerer answers 1 question using code in the answer and that reply is actually marked as an answer . Some achievements are easy to unlock while some require a high level of dedication on the part of the answerer. Apart from this there are recognition points that are allocated to the answerer once their reply is marked as an answer to the question asked by the OP. The number of Points awarded differ in case the answer is marked by OP or Moderator. For more details on the MSDN recognition system, please refer to MSDN recognition FAQ guide MSDN Recognition System. The question one who is new to the forums can ask is what is in it for me if I answer the questions what does the recognition system provide in the real world?? The answer to this question is simple as the name suggests the recognition system helps you get noticed in the technology community in which you are active. Though the points are no way a distinctive indicator of the knowledge the answerer possess, but as a general rule of thumb, more the points with the answerer, more seasoned the answerer is. The recognition system increases one's visibility in the community and other members can thus come to know that the answerer has deep knowledge about the technology on which the person is answering.
  • Elite Status: Once the participant starts contributing quality posts in the forum and their recognition slowly builds over time, MSDN forums have various roles that can be handled by the non MS employees, these are the roles of the Answerer/Editor and Moderator. These roles bestow extra rights to the participants other than just deleting and editing their own replies. Just on the higher side answerers and the moderators are tasked with the responsibility of proposing and marking to answers the questions where the OP has not marked the answers to their original questions. Moderators are given the added responsibility of moderating the forums which include marking the duplicate threads, merging similar threads and marking suitable answers from the proposed answers. More about various roles on the forums can be found at following link : Different Roles in MSDN Technet Forums. One needs to understand that the success of the forums depends upon the way the forums are managed and the ratio of the answered questions to the asked questions (Higher ratio means larger number of Ops are satisfied) thus when additional responsibility is given to the Non MS employees it means that you are a recognized member of the community, this itself is a huge honor bestowed upon one. This puts one right into the elite group of the “Select Few”.


The not so obvious Rewards


  • Knowledge: Believe it from a personal experience I have found out that when one starts participating in the forums their knowledge starts to grow at a very fast pace. The reason behind this is simple when one actually starts participating and answering, they come to know about the views of different community members on how to solve a particular problem which basically broadens the technical horizon and the acumen of the participant. My suggestion to any newbie reading this blog post is to start participating in the MSDN forums discussions as it will be beneficial for them in the long run. No need to start answering the questions straight away but at least following the questions and the discussion will ensure that they will start learning on their own. Also as the old saying goes “What You Know You do Not Forget”!!!


  • MVP and MCC status: Microsoft selects a few of the contributors from their respective technologies who have striven very hard to help others either by solving their problems and issues or by helping others understand and learn the technologies. The footprint of these contributors is massive in their respective technology fields. Hence Microsoft awards the Most Valuable Professional Award and the Microsoft Community Contributor Awards to these people. Thus this reward itself speaks for the value these contributors add. For everyone who participates in the forums this is one of the less obvious reward which can be theirs if they strive hard and create a strong foot print of their own.


Another point of view for the motivation behind the community participation is discussed by Ronen Ariely , you can read the blog here.

I hope this helps anyone who is in dilemma on whether to invest time in the forum activities or not.

Just as the Looney Tunes cartoons say “That’s all Folks”!!! See you all in the next post

PS: Jon Snow is  the new King In the North and Winter Has Come!!




Ninja Mandar, First of His Name, Member of the House Integration and Crusader of BizTalk