We have an annoying recurring problem that I believe compels the level of our response options at this community down.

Amazingly often, in fact every day I see new questions that omits many details that make it difficult for us to give a good answer.

When I see a question that excludes; the version of SharePoint, code samples, things they have already tried themselves, etc. I more often than not ignore these questions.
And the fact that these questions are still left unanswered several days later confirms that many others ignore them as well.

We can't be bothered to ask for more details even though some of us do once in a while. But it's exhausting.

We have this wonderful info box to the right when you are about to ask a question:

enter image description here

But I often get the impression that some users don't notice it's there.
There are so many questions that sounds something like

"I'm new to SharePoint. I want to <insert vague impossible to identify issue here>. PLease help quickly. thanks!!!"

Can we somehow move this wonderful info box on the right somewhere more eye-catchy and highlight the necessity for inclusion of details and code samples to the users problem? Perhaps have an example they can look at to get inspiration.

I just feel like so many questions that are answerable get left unanswered because the user who wrote the question don't know how to write a proper question.


It's been a month since I asked this question and have gotten feedback from some of you, much appreciated!

Based on the feedback I've taken the liberty to make a mockup of how I imagine the Question form could be improved and why.

  1. I think the placeholder in the title field is good to have, but I think we can do better than "What's your SharePoint question? Be specific".

  2. Many ask the same question because many run into the same problems, and even though a list of suggestions of other questions asked are shown after typing in a title, I still think it is important to point out that there is a search feature on the site that they should try.

  3. As mentioned in one of the answers, some users don't even notice the helper box we have on the right side. So why not move it into the question body field as a placeholder and add some additional pointers on what to include and how they can write a good question.

  4. As an extension of point 3. New users don't know how to format their question. Moderators spend a lot of time editing questions to improve code formatting, therefor I think a little pointer to the right side box for formatting help is in place.

  5. Tags. Tags are how we distinguish 2013 from 2010. CSOM from JSOM.
    As pointed out in this answer novice users don't know what tags are available. In my suggestion I've added some helping text underneath the Tag field to encourage users to explore tags and use the ones that apply to their question, including the version of SharePoint they're using.

enter image description here

  • 3
    I think the biggest problem with all stackexchanges is that new people think it's another forum, and even people who have been here a while don't understand just how not a forum this is! Questions and answers are too often just fragmented thoughts or "conversations" .
    – Bort
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 13:35

4 Answers 4


But I often get the impression that some users don't notice it's there.

This is the first time I've noticed it, and I visit often.

How about we instead have some CSS to show something along the following lines over the body textbox, and have it go away when it takes focus. Something along the lines of what you see when you go to submit a post on Reddit's Askreddit forum (link).

Something along the lines of:

To ensure you receive the best answers possible please be sure to specify the version of SharePoint that you are using as well as any code or details for solutions you have already tried.

  • 1
    Start the sentence with the thing you want to say (that we need the version) e.g.: "Specify the version of SharePoint that you are using to ensure you receive etc." Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 9:06

Maybe placing as mandatory extra fields such as version/O365 (or jquery/csom) would help clarify that the question should be specific.

The tagging system is not obvious to novices and it is hard to properly tag when you do not have the full view of all tags available. It took me several months to understand that there was a tag '2013'.

However do not under estimate the open questions such as what is the difference between publishing site and team site or other high-level generic questions. They are reasonably easy to answer to and they help sharing knowledge about a jungle platform that still after ~13 years is still vastly unknown.


Adding my thoughts: It would be great if there could be an intelligent prompt before posting (much like how you see when posting support questions to eBay, Amazon) whether their question was similar to a previously answered set of questions. If not, they can just ignore, go ahead and ask it anyway. (I do understand it all depends on how well the asker has framed their question!)

Also, new users (starting at 1 rep) should be allowed to comment on their own question or atleast encouraged (maybe a note displayed above the asked question) that they can edit their question to further elaborate or add something relevant. Too often I see new users, actually "answering" their own question to ask/clarify as they have too few rep's to comment.


I used to tag all my questions with a version until someone mentioned to me that one of my questions was not version specific and was probably being ignored by the lots of people who've never used that version.

I now try to only tag the version if I believe it's a version specific question. As a newbie I assumed I was being helpful by putting the version but now I often include it in my description but not as a tag.

Also as a very new user I had no idea what information would be considered useful. I don't always think newbies are being lazy by missing info out but they don't know what is relevant.

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