SQLServerCentral Article

Decorum in the Forums


Decorum in the Forums

The discussion forums at SQLServerCentral.com are one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the site. While we're not the MS public servers or Usenet, we're proud of the fact that of the nearly 200 new questions and 3-400 posts we get each day, that most questions receive some sort of answer within a day. Many people have responded that this is they first post when they have a problem because they often get it solved that day.

However, we do get a few complaints about the forums and the way that they are used. So I thought it might be time to set a few ground rules to make things run a little smoother.

  • Get the Post in the Correct Slot
  • Don't Cross Us Up
  • It's A Community
  • Second the Motion

Get the Post in the Correct Slot

First each forum has a general name, like "SQL Server", "Notification Services", etc. and then a subname like "Administration", "Security", etc. in that. When you post, the forum in which you are posting appears at the top of the page as a list of breadcrumbs to show you where you are in the hierarchy (see Figure 1).

It helps if you ensure that you are in the correct forum before posting. Certainly makes finding things easier.

Don't Cross Us Up

This forum system has an "Active Topics" section, which can show you all the threads with new posts since your last visit. Many of the "gurus" or "experts" use this feature to check all the threads that have activity and post to those they can answer or add a comment to. Posting in multiple places means that we get multiple threads to check. I know you might think your post is lost in the shuffle, but it's not. Post it once here, and elsewhere and we'll answer if we can.

If you don't receive an answer within a day, we have a thread to "recycles" the posts and ensures that they get a post from the system that "no one has answered". This puts it back on the Active Topics list and hopefully someone will notice it and try to answer it.

It's A Community

One of the best things about SQLServerCentral.com, in my mind, is that it has become a real community. Granted it's mostly about SQL Server, but people interact, they get to know each other and we've really grown into a place that is both useful and enjoyable for many people.

Everyone should remember that, especially when posting. We do censor posts. If I feel that some has personally attacked another or used inappropriate language, I will either remove the words or delete the post and replace it with a "this has been censored due to..." message. Thankfully I rarely have had to do that in nearly 4 years.

However I do see comments that I don't choose to censor, but they are in bad taste. Recently I saw:

"It says that you have no idea what you are doing, ..."

in a post and I was most disappointed. As were a number of members who emailed me and complained. This type of comment has no place in our community. I hate to see this type of attitude posted by anyone, but especially from those that are respected and acknowledged experts with SQL Server. We are all learning here and there ARE no dumb questions.

I would ask and hope that everyone who posts an answer be respectful of other's ignorance. Treat them with respect and give them an answer or a suggestion and not berate them for not knowing something in advance. They are visiting this forum because they need help. Remember that you might call on that very same person for another question, like how to replace the brakes on your 30 year old car. You'd want them to provide you with some respect along with the answer.

Second the Motion

I scan the Active Topics a couple times a day if I can, looking for threads that I've posted to previously, unanswered posts, and posts with one answer. Why? Well the first is obvious and the second is to try and be sure everything gets an answer of some sort. Even if it's a "I looked at it and have no clue" answer.

But that last one is one that I hope I can get others to join in on. I've posted questions before and there are times I get an answer, but I'm not sure about it. After all, for the most part you have no idea who is answering your question. The name doesn't necessarily mean anything unless you post often and can see the same person responding to many questions and get an idea of their knowledge. My work, along with many others, in terms of how we solve problems, view SQL Server, etc. is out there, so you may have some confidence that I know what I'm talking about.

Or you may be sure that I have no clue of what I'm doing 🙂 Either way, at least you know.

But if john_doe answers your questions, do you have confidence? Maybe, maybe not, but a second opinion sometimes makes things much better. So I check out those with one answer and I may disagree, or give you something to think about, but often I just post a "hey I agree with John_doe", so you know that there are at least two people that think something is good advice. To me, it's nice to have a second opinion to back up whatever advice you get.


Hopefully this will help those of you that aren't sure of what's going on to make better use of the forums. We welcome everyone, there are no dumb questions, and we endeavor to answer every post. While the forums are unmoderated for the most part, we will take action to ensure that posts conform to the above rules. If you feel there is a problem, please feel free to mail the webmaster.

Thanks for visiting our community and may all of your posts be answered in 2005!


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