This is a great initiative, congrats to SharePointPodShow guys for setting this up!

What differentiates this site from MSDN Forums? or is this direct competition with MSDN?

I know there are plenty of questions out there that need answering on SharePoint to share amongst forum sites grin. Just as long as Expert Exchange just disappears of the map ;-)

One thing on my mind is that it may split the community between the two. Also a lot of people sit in the forums as a way to get noticed for MVP program and you rarely see these people on stackoverflow.com so can't see them moving to here. MSDN also has Microsoft internal guys answering questions there too.

Some one else has already mentioned that they liked answering on stackoverflow as it got the community credits up on the overall site, whereas "now we have to start from scratch". Personally I'm not bothered about that, just in terms of converting those users over too.

The reason I ask this question is so that as a community we can promote this site and direct people correctly on where they should be going for what purposes.

What are the sites goals?

Where do I think it sits?

  • sharepoint focused - so no noise from other stackoverflow stuff
  • MSDN forums UI has got better in the last 6 months, but the approach of voting etc in stackoverflow engine is better in my opinion
  • completely open e.g. no moderation, so no "dodgy" threads being moderated (not that I've seen this in MSDN forums to be honest)
  • ability to navigate by tags
  • because no MVP hunting forum posters, will reduce noise of posters posting answers with fluffy answers in them

Again, great site guys, this is by no means knocking it either...just want to hear what people think of it (so no Knight style hate mail please)! We should certainly start hooking up all these SharePoint community sites like SharePointDevWiki.com, EndUserSharePoint.com, SharePointMagazine.net, SharePointPodShow.com, www.theMOSSShow.com etc. etc.

  • I guess your site runs on Ruby - right? Is it possible to build SO kind of Q&A site using SharePoint? :)
    – kamleshrao
    Commented Apr 9, 2010 at 5:27
  • Yes of course it is possible but this platform (Stack Exchange) was available immediately and had already been used with the successful Stack Overflow site. It's running ASP.NET MVC.
    – Alex Angas
    Commented Apr 9, 2010 at 13:14

5 Answers 5


I certainly agree with your points on UI, moderation free, and reward hunters.

What annoys me the most with the MSFT forums is that 'experts' throw out answers to increase the likelyhood of being awarded a correct answer without really knowing if what they are saying makes sense or is even correct.

What I don't like about the SO engine, however, is the lack of options for contacting someone privately. For a cost, say 5 points or something like that, users should be able to send private messages to other participants.

And, of course, it helps that this is community driven and not owned by MSFT.


  • the threading comments in SO is different to MSDN Forums and also how Confluence engine handles it in SharePointDevWiki.com. Just takes a little getting use to be sequential in second level without indenting after that :-( can mean complexed questions get hard to track in terms of how you are replying to.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 9:19
  • Presumably not being able to contact privately is the many reasons that people don't want to be known or contacted. Those that do should be encouraged to put their contact info in their profile. Anyways, you could suggest this on meta.stackexchange.com
    – Alex Angas
    Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 9:23
  • Alex, I agree that this at least should be an option 'Allow people to contact me'. .b Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 11:41
  • 2
    Jeremy, I don't see SO or SPO as discussion forums, but rather a place to ask and answer questions. If we wanted to have a debate, we'd use twitter... Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 11:43

I see the MSDN forums as more of a drop-in and drop-out type of forum where you go in, post your question and get out. Very few of the members visit the forum on a regular basis (although I seem to spend waaay to much time there these days and there are some members who are outstanding in their contributions) but SharePoint Overflow seems to be much more community driven and will therefore offer a better chance of full discussion around a given topic.

This results in not only gaining the answer you need but the "why" behind that answer which is quite often sorely missing on MSDN.

As Alex mentioned above, there is definately room for both.

  • yep I really think the "why" is really important rather than just giving someone the solution. It's one of the main reasons I started all the pros and cons matrixes in SharePointDevWiki.com. Looking forward to all the discussions!
    – Anonymous
    Commented Oct 9, 2009 at 9:49

One thing I really like about the TechNet/MSDN forums is that I can get accurate alerts to items I post on which makes it easy for me to follow up if the person asking the question provides more detail. I haven't seen that yet here.

  • 1
    If you're still looking for this feature, please request it on our Meta site!
    – Alex Angas
    Commented May 30, 2011 at 4:50

I think there's room for all of them and it really depends on what motivates the individual. I've never taken contributing to the community seriously until Stack Overflow came along and gave such a rewarding "buzz" in so many ways. MSDN Forums would never have done that for me.

Motivators for this site:

  • writing good answers and having them marked as correct or "most helpful"
  • learning from other people when I don't
  • fast and often excellent answers to questions I ask
  • reputation and badges
  • the way gaining reputation gives privileges to manage the system itself (e.g. retagging, correcting english, etc.)
  • a clean, fast and intuitive interface
  • the feeling of contributing with and being supported by other top SharePointers
  • starting at the same level as everyone else, no-one is singled out as being an "MVP" or "Partner"

Demotivators for MS forums:

  • interface is busy and tries to do too much (a lot of friction)
  • badges are not even close to advanced as this
  • Live ID is painful
  • can't downvote incorrect answers
  • can't vote on questions
  • too oriented towards a discussion-style approach
  • tag navigation poorly implemented in comparison
  • questions display answers multiple times if marked as answer
  • moderators can mark answers in my questions even if my question hasn't been answered
  • owned and controlled by Microsoft

As a community resource: the SharePoint-as-a-whole focus and promotion from the community are the big winners for this particular site.


I asked myself a very similar question a while back, and got the go-ahead to do some research and write it up on our company blog:

SharePoint Questions: MSDN versus Stack Exchange

The article is largely geared towards finding the better site to get an answer from, but it touches on the differences in ethos between the sites.

The general conclusion is that SE is a purposefully community-lead environment, with the framework laid out to specifically encourage this. Whereas MSDN is very much a corporate-lead structure, with similarities to a support forum.

The result of this difference in perspective is that MSDN tends to have a one-to-one relationship between questions with answers (much like a support ticketing system). For example: It's considered a faux-pas to give a late answer, since the question is only relevant for that user (who would have resolved the issue).

In contrast, SE has a many-to-one relationship (much like a FAQ); it's perfectly acceptable to give a late but more definitive (or up to date) answer, but a faux-pas to post a question that's already been answered.

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