ross dickinson: web and desktop software developer

The Problem with Microsoft's ASP.NET Forums

by Ross on November 23, 2011 at 4:17 PM under ASP.Net

As an ASP.NET developer, most people end up at the ASP.NET Forums at one time or another. While I'm sure Microsoft wants their forums to be the be-all end-all of ASP question-and-answer sites, the truth is that the advice given is generally lacking in quality and coherency. Now, I am generalizing a bit. I primarily hang out in the Web Forms subsection, so my experience is limited to this area.

So, what's wrong with the forums?

The replies always strike me as a case of "firsties!", with other users clamoring to get their answer in first. They see their personal user point count, displayed on every single post, as something of pride. I'm all for getting your answer in first, assuming it's right. Frequently, the first several answers to a post can be blatantly wrong. Either the user didn't understand the original question to begin with, or they post code samples with error laden syntax. I get the impression that the user who wrote the answer didn't actually see if the answer they supplied would work.

There's also the issue of users who do nothing but link to other sites that "might help them". I'm all for referencing external resources, except:

  1. Far too often, and this is a problem that's global to pretty much any web forum, links become stale and no longer work. What could have been an answer for another user months/years later is now lost since the user didn't post anything but a link.
  2. The person answering should atleast summarize what the link is about. At least indicate that they understand what the information in the link was talking about. I've seen people who just haphazardly link to things without even reading it, including links to WinForms documentation(wrong part of the framework), or even links to java documentation(not even remotely useful for the question at hand, which specifically had to do with capabilities of csharp and the .NET framework).

Microsoft would really benefit from having moderators who can cleanup the painfully wrong answers from the site. Or even, instead of only allowing the original poster to mark a post as the answer, let everyone else upvote and downvote posts in terms of quality. I can't think of how often I've seen the accepted answer not actually work, but a post further along actually does.

In the mean time, I stick to StackOverflow in order to get quality responses to questions. Though, I do try to help out on the ASP.Net forums.

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About the author

rossisdead is a 26 year old web and desktop software developer from New Jersey. He has two cats and likes long walks on the beach.

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