Microsoft Forum – Creating a new community anti-pattern

I’ve recently had reason to ask questions on the Oslo and WCF forums and in both cases my posts got responses quickly (which is more than can be said for the WCF REST starter kit forum which is dead as a doornail). However in both cases a strange thing then happened, someone else immediately marked the answer given as being THE answer to my question.

So instead of the person asking the question getting a chance to decide if the answer was suitable, or whether they wanted more information (in both cases I did), a higher authority decided (presumably the person providing the answer). Why does this matter, well apart from anything else answered questions get a tick when displayed in the list and who in their right mind is going to want to help answer an already answered question?

To me this seems like a big community anti-pattern, but it all makes sense when you read the sticky post on marking answers in the WCF forum. One key line is:

Our forum gets ‘measured’ based on how many unanswered questions are in it at any time and we work hard to keep those numbers to as low a level as possible. By marking answers, others get a more accurate understanding of how well (or badly) things are going on the forum.

Incentivise people to mark questions answered and thats what they do, who whould have thought?

Mind you on the right handside of the front page of the forum you also get a list of the “Top Answerers” which is also an amusing idea and probably not one I’d want to see on any forums I use regularly.

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