Tuesday Featured Post - Why do people go to forums?!?


I wonder, what is the reason that you come to the forums. Is it to help others or to get help from others?

Good day to all Forum's Ninjas, Forum's users, and guests :-)

Here we are again on Tuesday with "Featured Forum post", where we choose a forum post or a forum thread from the MSDN and TechNet Forums, and we write about the value of it.

For today's post, I wanted to find a new thread, which was posted in the last week. Therefore, I searched in several forums where I serve as Moderator. When I started the search, I did not know what I am looking for. I was looking for something that will catch my eyes. To say the truth, probably 99.99 percentage of the forums' threads include simple question with a short responses as answer without anything unique. Finding the thread for today's post can be pretty boring job. I drifted away from my original goal and I stated to response and answer several question I saw.

At one point I noticed this question, so I added my response and I moved forward to see if I can contribute something in the next thread. While reading the next thread the answer hit me! I knew what I want to talk about today :-)

Today I will not focus on a single specific post. Instead I want to focus on those two posts, which separately seems like a simple question/answer threads, but together they hide the power of the forum.

What I liked about those threads

The first thread is a question asked by JRStern (Josh), who is active member in the forums. The second thread is a question asked by Sajan Emmanuel, who is new member in the forum. Only when I started to read the responses on the second thread, I understood what I see there.

It is really "by chance" that those two threads came exactly one after the other, since the order of the threads in the forums is not fixed.

When I read the second thread, I notice that Josh who asked the first question is one of the people that support and answered the second question, and this is the power of the forum :-)

Why do people go to forums

There are 3 type of people that come to forums:

(1) The first group are people that come only to support and help others. These can includes people that do it as part of their job roles, or those who simply love to contribute and help others. For these people I can say WELL DONE! You have my respect and I salute your contribution. You are welcome to keep reading, but this blog is not about you.

(2) The second group are the people that come only to ask questions. Usually they open a new user each time they come, they ask the question, and we might never see them again in the forum once they got the answer. THIS POST IS MAINLY FOR YOU.

(3) The third group are the  core of the community. These are the people that know how to use the power of the forum. they come to ask questions but at the same time they support and answer questions that other people asked. Well Done!

If you are in the third group, I wonder what came before what. Did you first came to the forum in order to ask a question, and than you stay to help others, or maybe it is the opposite? Usually do you come only when you have question and "on the way" you help others, or do you come specifically to help others even when you don't have any question?

If you are in the second group, please let me give you some personal opinion from my experience, and maybe I will succeed to make you move to the third group:-)

One of the best ways we can measure the success of a forum is when we see people that originally came to ask a question, but they stay in the forum and today they support and help others

Why should you help others

Well, I assume that it is clear to all that helping other is something that considered "good"  and we should be good people, but let put aside this point. Let's think only about our-self and focus on the question: What will we get by helping others?

  • I don't know about you and I will be happy to hear, but I know that when I help others and they say thanks I feel good. Yes, I am getting a good feeling.
    • Try to open the day with a good feeling and you will understand what I am talking about. Come to the forum each morning during the morning coffee and instead of reading the newspaper with all the bad news, start the day with helping pothers and getting their thanks.
  • Did you ever search for interview questions? The forum is one huge database for questions and answers.
  • Do you want to learn about real technical cases? If the answer is yes, then you should come to the forums and try to answer as many questions as you can. In real life most of us works with the same system every day, but in the forum you can hear cases that you will never see in your production.
  • By answering questions you will learn and improve your technical abilities! Try to answer all the questions in the forum. Focus on questions that you do not know the answer. Search for the answers and learn until you can answer any question in the forum. only than you can call yourself EXPERTS
  • Read response that other people wrote. Discuss issues that other people raise.  Use the issues other people have in order to learn the solutions for your next case.

In short, don't help others only for their sake, but try to help others for your sake :-)

For summary

The forum is great place to get help and to help others. It is a great place to meet people from all around the world, discuss cases, and learn new stuff. Remember that always there is someone who know less, which you can help him, and probably there will always be someone that can help you. If you come to the forum to ask a question, then always try to answer at least two questions that other people asked.

Now, can you answer the questions:
(1) why do you come to forums? is it to ask a questions or answer question? (2) if you do both, what came before what?

Forums, the final frontier
– Ronen Ariely,
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