Microsoft closing NNTP newsgroups – moving their customers to web-based forums
Microsoft announced yesterday that beginning in June 2010, they will begin closing their NNTP newsgroups and migrating users to Microsoft forums that include Microsoft Answers, TechNet and MSDN. Their reasoning is that the move will centralize content, make it easier for contributors to retain their influence, reduce redundancies and make content easier to find. Overall, forums offer a better spam management platform that will improve customer satisfaction by encouraging a healthy discussion space.
Some of the features of the Microsoft Forums are:
Support for Questions and Answers: The forums application enables users to ask questions and get answers flagged as such by authoritative users in the community. This ability to easily filter and find actual answers coming from trusted individuals is what sets the application apart from other discussion-based applications.
Subscription and Notification Services: Users have the ability to subscribe to forum activity they are interested in by subscribing to either RSS or to Live Alerts on any thread they are interested in tracking. Users can also subscribe to RSS feeds for any forum, selecting cuts of data like answer state on incoming or new threads. The Live Alerts option can be configured to send updates to mobile applications, instant messenger or to the users Live Mail account.
Ability to Vote as Helpful: Users can vote on content as being more helpful, enabling users to filter on helpfulness.
Escalations: If enabled in a specific forum, moderators can escalate threads to Microsoft's attention. This enables Microsoft forum owners to filter and be notified of escalations in their community that need a Microsoft response.
Favorite Forums and Online Filtering Users can flag which forums they visit frequently, enabling them to create their own forums home page and get aggregated thread views across multiple forums. Users can also order threads by no replies, see threads containing replies they have not yet seen or apply filters to see questions that need answering. Users also are provided with popular topics in the application on various pages and related threads when coming from search engines to individual threads.
Enhanced Online Discoverability: The goal of our online forums application is to enable users to help each other. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure users can find the help easily. The forums team has invested heavily to ensure the online content is indexed and discoverable to search engines, one of the first places users go to get help. Users also can discover existing topics posted when creating new questions, allowing them to see what may have already been asked and answered by the community.
Administration, Moderation and Answering: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the Microsoft Online Community is to be self-sufficient. To foster this we have enabled features and tools to help the community moderate itself. These tools enable trusted community leaders to ensure forum content is relevant, on topic and up to date. The Answerer role can be applied to only let users participate in helping to identify confirmed answers. Microsoft Administrators can help keep the community relevant by banning users, bulk deleting spam and helping to organize the forums so they are more discoverable.
Integrated Profile and Recognition System: Users have the ability to find out more about each other by clicking user names in the application. This displays rich information about the users including how many posts, answers and points they have, whether they are MVPs, Microsoft staff or general users and also what other online properties they have recently participated in. Throughout forums, users accumulate points and badges for their valued participation, enabling users to understand more about each other and also incent users to provide more value to the community.
More at: Microsoft Responds to the Evolution of Communities