Seven Ways to NOT Get Answers to Your Microsoft Dynamics GP Questions via Newsgroups
The shift from newsgroups to forums is well under way for Microsoft Dynamics products. Mariano Gomez highlighted the trend in a recent article. With the change, I wanted to examine the best ways to actually get your questions answered in the forum.
Moderators care a lot about how questions are formatted. Certain types of questions will either go unanswered or get non-answers. Avoid these types of questions if you want to actually receive an answer:
1. The please-do-my-job-for-me question.
These questions are typically broad questions asking for more information than a normal human being is willing to give. For example, I've altered this recent question slightly to protect the guilty:
"Can anyone help me write the code in VBA To connect to the SQL server tables, retrieve data and display it in the Report writer through Visual basic editor?"
This person is asking for VBA, SQL and VB code. He or she doesn't want help, but rather free outsourcing.
When I see a request like this, I cringe. The question is really asking for more than anyone is willing to give. It's like asking LeBron James if he can spend the next ten minutes with you to get your overweight behind up to NBA standards. It's offensive to people who have spent a ton of time and effort building their own skills.
A more effective approach? Ask a specific question to get past the first hurdle and continue working. There is nothing to prevent asking another question at the next problem area.
2. The I-am-totally-clueless question.
Everyone is willing to help new people in the forums and we are all very forgiving. But sometimes a question is phrased in such a way that experienced people realize the question being posed is only the tip of a very big and frustrating iceberg.
For example, a question like. "How do I use SmartLists?" is often scary. The feature is simple enough that anyone should be able to get past that and into a more targeted question. Moderators know that when they provide an answer to such a question, they will likely wind up providing fifteen follow-up answers.
Don't post a question like this until you've at least tried to solve the problem. Take a shot, fail in the test company, and then come back with a targeted question. It is much easier to get someone unstuck than to start from scratch.
3. You can only answer this question my way
From time to time, a question comes up that is extremely detailed and has only one good answer. Often the answer is actually provided within the question. In many cases, the author is seeking validation to take back to someone else. This is especially telling when the author adds more boundaries each time a different suggestion is made.
You don't have to justify your decisions to the forum. Ask your question, get answers, and evaluate them in private.
4. The I'm-lazy question
Never start a question with, "I know that I could look this up but...". You may still receive an answer, or at least be pointed to an answer, but it grates on people. Look it up. Search the forums. Search the newsgroups. Hint: even after they shut down, they may still be available as a resource via Google Groups.
5. The "Groundhog Day" question
Often the same questions come up over and over again in similar forms. Asking the same questions repeatedly is a variation of the lazy questions. The worst part of this type of question is that using "search" actually provides an answer more quickly than posting the question.
Use the search feature before you ask your question. You save time, we save time.
6. The I'm-cheap questions
Finally, there are some questions that should obviously go straight to support. They get posted in the forums because someone is trying to save money.
If your system has been down for two days due to a failed upgrade, call support. Call your partner. Don't post a question to the forum and sit around waiting for an answer.
7. Storytelling Questions
Rarely (never?) is a long chronological description in a question useful. If I want to read a novel, I'll buy one.
Ask the question up front, then provide the context.
Most of the people answering questions on forums are volunteers. We're all a little nuts because we actively want to help, but we're all very busy and our time is extremely valuable. If you don't believe me, look at your consulting bills.
To improve the chances of getting a question answered in the forum:
- Ask a single, clear question.
- Ask the question first, then give background or details.
- Provide system information, version, service pack etc.
- Research first. Ask a question and then provide information as to a couple of options that have been tried. This adds huge credibility to the question and increases the chances of getting it answered.
- Be polite, no matter how frustrated you are. People sometimes misread the question the first time.
Finally, marking a post as answered, or posting that the issue was resolved and a description of the resolution is tremendous encouragement to everyone. When issues simply disappear into the unanswered void. it forces people to ask those questions again instead of simply being able to look up the answer.The forums can be a great source of support, if you use them wisely.