Help for the Web-based Newsreader

Getting started with the Web-based Newsreader

About the Web-based Newsreader

About discussion groups

Discussion group terms

Reading posted messages

Why do I need to sign in to Communities?

Sign in to Communities

Getting answers to your questions

Searching for discussions

Show specific threads in a discussion group or search results

Search for a specific post

Search for messages posted by a specific author

Find open questions to answer

Posting to a discussion group

Tips for posting

What happens when I post a message?

About e-mail addresses and privacy

Change your display e-mail address

What's a display name?

Post to a test discussion group

Post a new question

Post a general comment

Reply to a post

Got a suggestion? Give Microsoft feedback

Post a suggestion for Microsoft

What are notifications?

Sign up for notifications

Turn off notifications for a thread

Change your notification e-mail address or language

Your identity in the Community

View or change your profile information

Learn about another author

Why should I rate a post?

Rate a post as helpful (or not helpful)

Rate a post as an answer (or not an answer) to your question

What are the Communities Wizards?

Contributor levels in the Community

What are Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs)?

How do I report an inappropriate post, screen name, or comments?

Keyboard shortcuts

Rules of conduct

Getting started with the Web-based Newsreader

Would you like to get answers to your questions directly from the world's leading technology experts? Interested in tips from power users or developers? Do you have tips you'd like to share with others? Then you've come to the right place. There is a lively community of computer users (at all levels of expertise and knowledge) who are taking advantage of the Internet to exchange ideas, information, knowledge, and expertise about Microsoft products and services. The Web-based Newsreader allows you to enter into discussion groups where people who are passionate about Microsoft technologies share their thoughts, help, support, and ideas.

If you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of conversing with others over the Internet, don't worry. Once you take the plunge and join in, you'll find that working with discussion groups is not as difficult as you might think.

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About the Web-based Newsreader

The Web-based Newsreader is part of certain Web pages and allows you to participate in discussion groups directly in your Web browser; you don't need to install or configure anything. (You opened this Help file from the Web-based Newsreader.) You can use the Web-based Newsreader to read, post, search for, and reply to messages in discussion groups from the part of Usenet that concerns Microsoft products and technologies (the Microsoft public discussions.) Additionally, when you sign in to Communities, you can use the Web-based Newsreader to rate posts that are helpful (or not), rate a post that answers your question (or not), build a reputation as someone who posts accurate information, and sign up to be notified when someone has responded to a particular thread.

All Microsoft discussion groups are available through either the Web-based Newsreader or a Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) newsreader, such as Outlook Express. However, only the Web-based Newsreader offers the additional features of rating posts, building a reputation, signing up for notifications, or sending feedback to Microsoft. (Not all Communities implement the feedback feature.).

As you begin participating and exploring discussion groups, it may be helpful to understand the functionality of the Web-based Newsreader within your Web browser. Clicking the Back button in your Web browser returns you to the previous page, not a previously opened post on the current page. For example, if you navigate to a discussion group from a link on a community page, read a post in the discussion group, and then open another post in the discussion group, clicking the Back button in your Web browser will take you back to the community page, not the previous post you were reading. Also, if you are reading a post in discussion group, and you then select another discussion group, clicking the Back button in your Web browser will take you back to the previous discussion group but will not return you to the post you were previously reading.

The Web-based Newsreader has the following components:

TOC pane   The left pane in the Web browser that contains a table of contents of the available discussion groups. Note that the TOC pane is not available on every page.

Thread pane   The middle pane in the Web browser that contains all of the threads in a selected discussion group.

Message pane   The right pane in the Web browser that displays the content of a selected post within a thread.

Full-thread window   A new Web browser window that displays an entire thread (opens when you double-click a thread). A thread summary is shown at the top, followed by each individual post in the thread.

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About discussion groups

A discussion group (also known as a newsgroup) is a place on the Internet where people interact by posting and reading messages about topics that are of interest to them and the rest of a community. Each discussion group contains a number of discussion threads, or a series of related messages. Each individual message either responds to an earlier message, or addresses the overall discussion group topic in some way. In contrast to e-mail messages that are sent to specific individuals and visible only to them, messages posted in a discussion group are visible and available to anyone and everyone.

There are more than 100,000 discussion groups, and more are added all the time. Each discussion group covers a particular topic, often alluded to in its name. For example, people who use Microsoft Excel can visit and participate in microsoft.public.excel.charting.

Microsoft created Microsoft public discussions covering many Microsoft products, technologies, and topics because of the value of finding out what your peers think and getting information from people who use the same products and technologies you use. The Microsoft public discussions have been available to anyone on Usenet for a number of years. Thousands of Microsoft customers at all levels of expertise post in these groups today, creating the content, sharing information and contributing ideas. There are currently over 2,000 public discussion groups dedicated to discussing Microsoft products.

How Do I Use the Microsoft discussion groups?

Microsoft provides the Web-based Newsreader to make using discussion groups as easy as clicking on a Web page. The left side of the page provides a list of discussion groups. When you select a discussion group, you can check out interesting posts, or search the discussion group to find specific topics. After you sign in to Communities, you can also answer a question, post your own questions to the group, post a suggestion for Microsoft, vote on a suggestion, sign up for notifications for a post you are interested in, and much more.

All Microsoft discussion groups are available through either the Web-based Newsreader or an NNTP newsreader, such as Outlook Express. Web-based newsreaders are popular for beginners, because you don't need to install or configure anything. A Web browser is all you need to access discussion groups.

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Discussion group terms

Community   A Microsoft Community is an online forum where you can interact with others who use the Microsoft program you use, get your questions answered, share ideas, and learn more about the products and technologies that interest you. This interaction with fellow users takes place in discussion groups (also known as newsgroups).

cross-post   Adding a single post to more than one discussion group at the same time. Cross-posting is an advanced feature and should only be used if you really believe that more than one discussion group will be interested in your thread.

Internet Protocol (IP)   The method or protocol that controls the way data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet. Each computer (known as a host) on the Internet has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet.

multi-post   Adding the same post to more than one discussion group, one discussion group at a time (so there is only one group listed in the header of each post). Multi-posting is not recommended and should only be used if you are prepared to track down each individual instance of your posts.

NNTP   "Network News Transfer Protocol," the name of a protocol that controls the request and exchange of Usenet messages, and by extension, discussion group messages. You can access discussion groups via NNTP by using an NNTP newsreader such as Outlook Express.

post   An individual message in a discussion group. Also, the act of sending an individual message to a server that will display it in the discussion group.

protocol   A set of technical rules about how information should be transmitted and received using computers. Protocols are often described in an industry or international standard.

spam   The "junk mail" posts that are sometimes posted to Usenet. Also, “junk mail” or other unwanted, unsolicited messages that you may receive in your regular e-mail account if you use your actual, unmodified e-mail address in a discussion group.

Suggestion for Microsoft    A post that contains an idea for a new feature, for improvement, or about something you like in a Microsoft product that is meant for Microsoft to read. Discussion group participants can vote on a suggestion, and the suggestions with the most votes are bubbled up for review. The suggestions with the highest number of votes will be responded to by someone at Microsoft. (Not all Communities implement the feedback feature. If Suggestion for Microsoft is not available when you create a new post, this feature is not available in the current Community.)

Thread   A collection of posts that reference each other. A thread is displayed in order of replies with the original post at the top and each reply indented and beneath the post to which it is replying. Each reply may be replied to as well. The different types of threads are identified by the icon next to the thread title in the thread summary.

Usenet   The collection of all posts publicly distributed through NNTP.

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Reading posted messages

Discussions are organized in threads, or collection of messages that reference each other. Each thread begins with the original post (a question, suggestion for Microsoft, or a comment) and can contain multiple replies. In the thread pane, each collapsed thread (thread with a plus sign next to it) has a two-line thread summary. The thread summary displays the subject of the original post in a thread with an icon identifying the type of thread:

Thread Type

Icon in Thread Summary

Unanswered Question

Answered Question

*

Suggestion without a response from Microsoft

*

Suggestion with a response from Microsoft

*

The thread summary also displays the number of posts in the thread, the number of posts rated as helpful in the thread, and the date of the first post in the thread. To view and read posted messages, you can do any of the following:

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Why do I need to sign in to Communities?

It isn't necessary to be signed in to Communities to search for posts, read posts, expand threads, or show specific threads in discussion groups. However, there are certain things you can do in discussion groups that require you to sign in. To add your own post, rate posts, or sign up for e-mail notifications, you are required to use a .NET Passport to sign in. Signing in helps ensure that you are who you say you are, and that no one else can pretend to be you. Because you may build a reputation in the Community by answering questions accurately, and you build other people’s reputations when you rate their answer to your question, it is important that others can trust that you are who you say are each time you participate in Communities.

Sign in to Communities

To sign in to Communities, just click the .NET Passport Sign In button in the upper-right of your Web browser in the Web-based Newsreader. If you see the .NET Passport Sign Out button (rather than the .NET Passport Sign In button), you are already signed in.

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Why is sign in required?

Sign in is required in the following cases:

When you reply to a post  Signing in ensures that you receive credit for any posts that you contribute that are rated as an answer by the person who posted the original question or by an MVP in the Community.

When you rate a post  The rating system can be trusted because sign in is required.

When you view or edit your profile  Your profile can be trusted because only you can make changes to it.

When you sign up for e-mail notifications  Signing in allows you to request e-mail notification when someone adds a post to a thread that you are interested in. Because this e-mail address is not public, and because we want notifications to be useful, we want you to be confident that you can use your normal e-mail address for notifications without fear of receiving unsolicited e-mail (spam). Using .NET Passport helps secure your e-mail address for notifications.

What is Microsoft .NET Passport?

.NET Passport is the free, online sign-in service offered by Microsoft. Register your e-mail address and a single password, and sign in with them wherever .NET Passport is accepted.

Tell me more about .NET Passport.

How do I get a .NET Passport?

If you have a Hotmail or an MSN e-mail account, or if you registered another e-mail address with .NET Passport, you already have a .NET Passport. If not, you can register today when you are prompted to sign in to Communities by clicking the Register button on the sign in page.

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Getting answers to your questions

Searching for discussions

There are many different ways to find the answers or discussions you want. If you just want to see what types of discussions are available, you may want to browse to become familiar with the discussion groups. Or you may want to show specific threads in a discussion group, such as only answered questions. If you are after specific information, you can search discussion groups for a post using a specific keyword.

Browse types of discussions

The table of contents is on the left side of your Web browser and lists discussion groups by product or technology. Clicking the discussion group name will open the discussion and display the conversation threads posted to this newsgroup.

Show specific threads in a discussion group or search results

To show specific threads rather than all threads in a discussion group or in your search results, you can use the Show list. You can show only answered questions, only questions without answers, only answered suggestions for Microsoft, only suggestions for Microsoft, or only threads with helpful posts. The filtered list of threads appears in the thread pane, sorted by date, with all of the threads collapsed. For example:

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Search for a specific post

You can search a discussion group or multiple discussion groups for specific posts using one or more keywords including names of people. Search looks for these keywords in the By field (contains the name of the author or their e-mail address), the Subject field, and the message body of the post. Posts that match your criteria are displayed in the Search Results window, within the discussion threads that they are part of.

To begin your search, do the following:

  1. Type your keywords in the Search For box.
  2. Select the discussion group(s) you want to search in the In list.
    To search across multiple discussion groups, select a discussion group category, such as Excel.
    By default, the current discussion group is displayed in the In list.
  3. Click Go.

Tips

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Search for messages posted in a discussion group by a specific author

  1. In the thread pane, select a message that the author has posted.
  2. In the message pane click the author's name.
  3. In the User Profile window for this author, click Recent Posts by this user.

Tip   To return to the discussions you were viewing before you began your search, click Back (at the top of the Web-based newsreader) or click the Back button in your Web browser. 

Note   When you search for messages posted by a specific author, up to 100 messages posted by the author in the Community are returned in the Search Results window.

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Find open questions to answer

To find questions that don’t have answers yet, you can look in a particular discussion group, or search for questions relating to a particular subject in or across discussion groups.

  1. Do one of the following:
  2. In the Show list at the top of the thread pane, click Questions without answers.

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Posting to a discussion group

If you don't find the answer to your question by searching in discussion groups, you can start a new thread on a topic in order to ask a question or start a discussion. Or, if you have an answer or have a comment about something you've read in a discussion group, you can reply to any post. Your reply appears below the post that you reply to. (Note that your post does not appear immediately. It will be at least 5 minutes before you will be able to see your post in the discussion group.)

Note  To post to a discussion group, you must sign in to Communities.

Tips for posting

Before posting a question to a discussion group, read and use the following tips:

  1. Before you post a question, try to find an answer by first searching the Web, and searching the appropriate discussion groups.
  2. Use mixed case. UPPER CASE LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING.
  3. When asking a question, make sure the Subject is a brief, meaningful summary of your issue.
  4. Make your message brief, but be sure to include the necessary details (include the version of the product you are using when asking a question.)
  5. If you want to quote the text from a message you are replying to, include only enough of the previous message to be understood. Leave out the text that is irrelevant.
  6. Don’t cross-post (add a single post to more than one discussion group at the same time) or multi-post (add the same post to more than one discussion group, one discussion group at a time). It is very unlikely that any post really belongs in more than one or two discussion groups, and it is easier to track responses to a single post. Take the time to choose the best single discussion group for your post.

For more information on posting, use the following resources:

Rules of conduct

Tips from MVPs on posting to the Word newsgroups (on the Word MVP FAQ Web site)

Making Good Newsgroup Posts (on the DTS-L.Org Web site)

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What happens when I post a message?

Warning   Credit card numbers, product keys, and other confidential information, including anything covered under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), should not be posted to a discussion group.

Once you complete your message, and click the Send button, your message is processed and permanently posted to the discussion group.

Notes

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About e-mail addresses and privacy

It is highly likely that you will receive unwanted messages (spam) in your regular e-mail account if you use your actual, unmodified e-mail address as your display e-mail address in a discussion group. Note that your display e-mail address is different from your notification e-mail address. Your notification e-mail address must be a real e-mail address in order for you to be notified; it is stored privately by Microsoft. It is not visible to the Community. However, your display e-mail address is public and visible to everyone in the Community.

People who send unwanted bulk e-mail (spammers) regularly gather e-mail addresses from discussion groups. To help prevent spam in your regular e-mail account, the default display e-mail address when you post a message in a discussion group is yourdisplayname@discussions.microsoft.com. The following are the display e-mail address options you can choose from:

Use a false display e-mail address we generate for you   The default address yourdisplayname@discussions.microsoft.com will be used when you post a message if you do not change your display e-mail address. 

Use a modified display e-mail address   Use a different version of your e-mail address that others will understand, but that spam tools can't automatically pick up. For example, if an actual e-mail address were someone@example.com, we would recommend modifying it to one of the following:

someone@example.com.(donotspam)

someone@REMOVE_CAPS_AND_INVALIDexample.com

someone@example.com.NO_SPAM

In this case, the spam tools will send mail to an invalid e-mail address, and others will know to exclude the invalid information when they send you e-mail.

Use a secondary e-mail account   Set up or use an e-mail account, such as a Hotmail account, that is separate from your primary account for posting to discussion groups.

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Change your display e-mail address

To view or change your profile information, you must sign in to Communities.

  1. Click Edit my Profile  (above the message pane).
  2. If you have not already entered a display name, enter the name you want to use in the Display Name box (required).
  3. On the My Profile page, under Display E-mail address, select the Enter a modified or secondary address option, and then enter the address you want to use.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Click Close Profile.

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What's a display name?

Your display name is the name that you use when posting to a discussion group and indicates the author of a post. The name that you enter in your profile information is the name that appears by default in any new message that you post. Your display name appears in the By field of any message you post. It is good practice to use a unique name, and to use the same display name whenever you post so that other people can recognize you in the communities. The name you use can be your real name if you wish, but note that potentially millions of people will see it.

View or change your profile information

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Post to a test discussion group

If you are new to discussion groups, and you want to try posting a “test” message to see how the process works, you can post to a test discussion group.

  1. Click the following link to open the Microsoft test discussion group:
    http://communities2.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/en-us/default.aspx?dg=microsoft.public.test.here&lang=en&cr=US
  2. Click New , and then click General comment.
  3. Enter a brief, meaningful summary in the Subject box so others in the Community get an idea of your comment.
  4. Enter a good description of your comment and include the version of the product you are using in the Body box.
  5. Review the text you typed in the Subject and Body boxes to make sure it says what you want; you cannot revise your message after you click Post.
  6. Click Post.

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Post a new question

  1. Open the discussion group in which you want to post.
  2. Click New , and then click Question.
  3. Enter a brief, meaningful summary in the Subject box so others in the Community get an idea of your question.
  4. Enter a good description of your question or issue and include the version of the product you are using in the Body box.
  5. If you want to receive e-mail notification when someone replies to your question, select the Notify me of replies check box.
  6. Review the text you typed in the Subject and Body boxes to make sure it says what you want; you cannot revise your message after you click Post.
  7. Click Post.

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Post a general comment

  1. Open the discussion group in which you want to post.
  2. Click New , and then click General comment.
  3. Enter a brief, meaningful summary in the Subject box so others in the Community get an idea of your comment.
  4. Enter a good description of your comment and include the version of the product you are using in the Body box.
  5. Review the text you typed in the Subject and Body boxes to make sure it says what you want; you cannot revise your message after you click Post.
  6. To receive e-mail notification when a Community member adds a reply to the thread, select the Notify me of replies check box.
  7. Click Post.

Note   When you add a post to a discussion group, or see a thread you’re interested in, you can choose to receive an e-mail message (notification) when someone replies to it. Using a .NET Passport when signing in to communities, will help to keep the e-mail address you provide to receive notifications safe and private. Microsoft does not share this e-mail address with other users, so you can use your real e-mail address for notifications without fear of receiving unsolicited messages (spam).

What are notifications?

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Reply to a post

  1. In the thread pane, select the post you want to reply to.
  2. Click Reply .
  3. In the Reply form, type your reply in the Body box.
    If you do not want your message to include the text of the message you are replying to, you can delete this text from the Body box.
  4. Review the text you typed in the Body box to make sure it says what you want; you cannot revise your message after you click Post.
  5. To receive e-mail notification when a Community member adds a reply to this thread, select the Notify me of replies check box.
  6. Click Send.

Advanced options

To post in more than one discussion group, click Advanced Options in the New Question, New Comment, or Reply form, and then type the additional discussion groups you want to post to in the Cross-post to these discussion groups box. Use a comma (,) between discussion group names.

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Got a suggestion? Give Microsoft feedback

Not all Communities implement the feedback feature. If Suggestion for Microsoft is not available when you create a new post, this feature is not implemented in the current Community.

Frustrated? Got a great idea? Want to see a new feature? A Microsoft Community is a public forum where you can post suggestions for a Microsoft product and see suggestions that others have made. As a community participant, you can submit your own suggestions, as well as vote for suggestions others have made. Microsoft uses these votes to help prioritize features in upcoming versions.

You can start by searching for your suggestion in the appropriate discussion group to see if it has already been submitted. If your suggestion already exists, you should add your vote to it instead of posting it again.

Every month, Microsoft responds to the suggestions with the most votes, so it is important to vote for your suggestion if it has already been posted. If you don’t see your suggestion, you may want to refine your search before posting your own suggestion, to make sure a similar suggestion does not already exist.

Note  To vote for a suggestion or post your own, you must sign in to Communities.

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Post a suggestion for Microsoft

Not all Communities implement the feedback feature. To see if the feedback feature is available in the Community, click New (above the thread pane) in any discussion group. If Suggestion for Microsoft is not available in the New list, this feature is not available in the current Community.

  1. In the discussion group that is most appropriate for the suggestion you want to post, and that implements the feedback feature, type the keywords for your suggestion in the Search For box to search for the suggestion.
    Every month, Microsoft responds to the suggestions with the most votes, so it is important to vote for your suggestion if it has already been posted, rather than submit the same suggestion again.
  2. To show only suggestions in your search results, click Suggestions for Microsoft in the Show list.
  3. If you locate an existing post with the suggestion you want to make, vote for this suggestion (click Yes next to Was this post helpful to you? in the message pane). Be sure to click Notify me of replies  (above the message pane) to receive e-mail notification when anyone replies to your feedback. (You have now given Microsoft feedback, and do not need to complete the following steps.)

    If you do not see the suggestion you want to make, do the following to submit a new suggestion:
    1. Click New  (above the thread pane), and then click Suggestion for Microsoft.
    2. Enter a brief, meaningful summary in the Subject box so others in the Community get an idea of your feedback or suggestion.
    3. Enter a good description of your question or issue and include the version of the product you are using in the Body box.
    4. Review the text you typed in the Subject and Body boxes to make sure it says what you want; you cannot revise your message after you click Post.
    5. Be sure to select the Notify me of replies check box. To receive e-mail notification when anyone replies to your feedback, click anyone in the Notify me of replies list. Or, to receive e-mail notification only when a Microsoft employee replies to your feedback, click Microsoft in the list. This way, you don't have to keep coming back to the discussion group to check for responses. And Microsoft will never use your e-mail address to send you something you didn't specifically ask for.
    6. Click Post.

Note   When you add a post to a discussion group, or see a thread you’re interested in, you can choose to receive an e-mail message (notification) when someone replies to it. Using a .NET Passport when signing in to communities, will help to keep the e-mail address you provide to receive notifications safe and private. Microsoft does not share this e-mail address with other users, so you can use your real e-mail address for notifications without fear of receiving unsolicited messages (spam).

What are notifications?

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What are notifications?

When you add a post to a discussion group, or see a thread you’re interested in, you can choose to receive an e-mail message (notification) when someone replies to it. Using a .NET Passport when signing in to communities, will help to keep the e-mail address you provide to receive notifications safe and private. This address is stored privately by Microsoft and is not visible in any way to the Community or to any third-party groups, so you can use your real e-mail address for notifications without fear of receiving unsolicited messages (spam).

The notification e-mail message contains the name of the thread that has been added to, and a link that takes you directly to the added response in the discussion group. You can sign up to receive notification by selecting the Notify me of replies check box (in the New Question, New Suggestion, New Comment, or Reply form) when you create a new post, or by clicking Notify me of replies  (above the message pane) when you find and select an interesting thread.

This means that you can choose to be contacted whenever someone responds to a question you posted, when information is added to an interesting post, or when a Microsoft employee responds to a thread that contains feedback about a particular product. With notifications, you can know when information has been added to a particular thread that you are interested in without having to check the thread regularly to see if anyone has responded yet.

The following are some situations where you may want notifications to be sent to you:

You post a question to a discussion group   You can request to receive notification when someone adds a post to your question, allowing you to be notified by e-mail when there is a possible answer.

You find an interesting thread in a discussion group   When you find a thread that contains a subject that you want to known more about, you can sign up to be notified when someone adds a post to the thread.

You post a suggestion for Microsoft   You can request to be notified whenever anyone replies to your suggestion thread, or only when Microsoft replies to your suggestion thread.

Note  To sign up for notifications, you must sign in to Communities.

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Sign up for notifications

When you first sign up for notifications, either while posting or browsing threads, you are asked to verify your e-mail address. The address you enter must be a real e-mail address in order for you to be notified. However, this address is stored privately by Microsoft. It is not visible to the Community or to any third-party groups.

You receive only one e-mail response letting you know that someone has added a post to the thread you've signed up for. To continue receiving notifications for the thread, click the Click this link to continue receiving notifications for this thread link in the e-mail notification. When you click the link to the thread inside the e-mail message, the thread opens so that you can read any new information in the thread.

Change your notification e-mail address

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Turn off notifications for a thread

Notifications for a thread are automatically turned off when you receive the first notification for the thread so that you don’t get a repeat e-mail message for every response. You must sign up again to be notified of replies to the thread, either by using the Click this link to continue receiving notifications for this thread link in the e-mail notification, or by clicking Notify me of replies  (above the message pane) with the thread selected. However, to turn off notifications for a thread before you receive a notification for the thread, do the following:

  1. Click Edit my Profile (above the message pane).
  2. On the My Profile page, under Threads I’ve signed up for, locate the thread you requested notifications for.
  3. If the thread you want does not appear in the list, click Show all my notifications to display the rest of the threads that you have requested notifications for.
  4. Select the Delete check box for the thread you do not want to receive notifications for.

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Change your notification e-mail address or language

  1. Click Edit my Profile (above the message pane).
  2. On the My Profile page, locate the My Notifications section.
  3. To change your notification e-mail address, click Edit, and then enter your e-mail address.
    You will be asked to verify the new e-mail address. This address is stored privately by Microsoft and is not visible in any way to the Community or to any third-party groups.
  4. To change the language for your notification e-mail, select the language you want in the Language list.

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Your identity in the Community

One of the benefits of signing in to communities is the opportunity to share information about yourself with others in the Community and to learn about others who are posting to discussion groups and answering your questions. The information you enter about yourself in your profile, along with the information about your activity in the Community (such as how many posts you have contributed, how many of your posts were rated as “the answer” by the person who posted the question, and more) gives others a sense of your trustworthiness and a way to gauge how valuable your comments might be, based on your past performance. The same is true when you view the profiles of others; you can get a feel for how valuable their contributions have been and how much you can trust the information they post to the Community.

The My Profile page is the place where you enter information about yourself. This page appears the first time you create a post, or sign up for notifications. You can open the My Profile page by clicking Edit my Profile  (above the message pane). If you don’t add any information about yourself to the My Profile page, others will only see statistics about what you have posted (for example, the number of posts you have authored, number of questions you have answered, and so on).

Note  To view or edit your profile, you must sign in to Communities.

The User Profile window

The User Profile window is the place where you can find out about others in the Community. You can view information about another person, view information about multiple people at the same time (open multiple User Profile windows) to compare, and view information about yourself as well. You can also open your own profile, to make changes to the information you entered about yourself.

The User Profile window displays some of the following information (not all of the following information is required; some of this information may not have been provided by the person you want to know about.):

displayname@discussions.microsoft.com   The e-mail address for the person, assuming the person has chosen to show it.

Recent Posts by this user   Click this link to search for all posts authored by the person.

Member since   The date the person first posted to a discussion group in the Community.

Posts   The number of posts the person has authored in the Community.

Questions answered   The number of questions the person has replied to that the original asker has marked as the answer.

Users helped   The number of people who have posted questions to the Community who have marked at least one of the person’s responses as the answer.

If no information is available for the person, they have participated in discussion groups using a newsreader other than the Web-based Newsreader.

Note   Microsoft relies on community members to report inappropriate screen names and comments. Please contact us with this information if you see it.

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View or change your profile information

Although you cannot change your discussion group activity information shown when others view your User Profile window, you can change your display name, your display e-mail address, and the description about yourself. You can also change your signature, your notifications e-mail address, your notifications language, or turn off notifications using this procedure.

  1. Click Edit my Profile (above the message pane).
  2. If you have not yet entered a display name, enter the name you want in the Display Name box (required).
  3. Enter the information you want.
  4. To view your profile information (what others will see when they view your User Profile window), click Preview at the bottom of the My Profile page. Close the User Profile: Preview window.
  5. To save the changes to your profile information, click Save.
  6. Click Close Profile.

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Learn about another author

To learn about someone who has posted in a discussion group, do the following:

  1. In the thread pane, select a post that was authored by the person you want to know about.
  2. In the message pane, click the display name.

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Why should I rate a post?

You can also let others in the Community know whether they should bother reading a post or not by rating posts. If you find the information in a post useful, chances are that other people will too.

Here’s how it works. The system keeps track of positive and negative ratings. Each post has a score, and a rating count. The score is the number of positive ratings, and the rating count is the number of ratings (positive or negative). Each post displays buttons for rating (above the message in the message pane or below the message in the full-thread window) with text asking if the post was helpful to you (or if the post is a response to a question you asked, if the post answered your question). When you rate a post as helpful to you, both the score and the rating count for that post are increased by one. When you rate a post as not helpful, only the rating count is increased by one. When a post has a rating count of at least three, and the ratio of score/rating count is 2/3 or greater, the post is marked as “helpful.”

Note  To rate a post, you must sign in to Communities.

Identifying helpful posts

You can identify a post that is marked as “helpful” in the following ways:

This information makes it easier for everyone in the Community to decide which threads to read first. Additionally, threads with posts that have been marked as “helpful” will be kept in the discussion group for a longer period of time than those with posts that have not been marked as "helpful."

Special consideration for question posts

In addition to the "helpful" and "not helpful" ratings, when someone adds a post to a question you asked, you can rate this post as "the answer" to your question or "not the answer" to your question. By rating a post as “the answer”, you help others find the answer more quickly (because the Ask a Question wizard searches answered questions), you give the person who posted the answer credit for their contribution, and you help increase the quality of answers in the discussion group. When you rate a post as the answer (click Yes next to Did this post answer the question?) the post is marked as an “answer”, the Questions answered number for the person who authored the post increases by one in their profile information, and the thread is marked as an “answered question.”

When you rate a post as not the answer (click No next to Did this post answer the question?), the post is not marked as an answer, the thread remains a Question without answer thread (if there are no other posts marked as an answer), and the author does not receive credit for answering the question.

Notes

Identifying answer posts

You can identify a post that has been rated as an “answer” in the following ways:

This information makes it easier for everyone in the Community to decide which threads to read first. Threads with posts that have been marked as “helpful” will be kept in the discussion group for a longer period of time than those with posts that have not been marked as "helpful."

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Rate a post as helpful (or not helpful)

(Note that you cannot rate a post that you have authored.)

  1. In the thread pane, select the post that you want to rate.
  2. In the message pane, do one of the following:

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Rate a post as an answer (or not an answer) to your question

(Note that you cannot rate a post that you have authored.)

When someone replies to a question you asked, you can rate this post as an answer, or not an answer to your question. By rating a post as an answer, you help others find the answer more quickly, you give credit to the person who posted the answer, and you help increase the quality of answers in the discussion group.

  1. In the thread pane, select the post that is a response to a question you asked.
  2. In the message pane, do one of the following:

The post you rated is now marked as an answer, and the thread is now marked as an answered question, and will be returned in search results. Additionally, the person who posted this answer is credited with an answered question (this is added to their profile information).

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What are the Communities Wizards?

The Communities Wizards are a series of pages designed to guide you in the process of getting answers to your questions or submitting a suggestion to a discussion group. There are two different wizards, one for asking questions and one for making a suggestion to Microsoft. Each wizard provides an interface with instructions that lead you through the process of searching for similar (answered) questions or suggestions that others have submitted, voting on a similar suggestion if one exists, and posting your question or suggestion if a similar one does not exist. The wizards allow you to accomplish all this without browsing the entire Community through the Web-based Newsreader.

The Communities Wizards are available from various links. For example, if you are using an Office 2003 program, you may encounter the wizard by clicking the Get answers from other users link in the Search Results task pane (after searching in the Help task pane).

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Contributor levels in the Community

When you receive an answer from someone in the Community, how do you know you can trust their answer? And as an active participant in the Community, how do you get to be a Gold-level contributor?

Every question that a contributor answers (every post that has been rated as the answer by the person who posted the original question) is counted toward achieving a “level.” There are 3 different levels that community contributors can achieve; Bronze, Silver, and Gold. You can identify the level a contributor has achieved by the icon that is shown next to the author name in the thread pane (in an expanded thread) and in the message pane; no icon, a Bronze medal, a Silver medal, a Gold medal, or an MVP icon.

Number of questions answered

Contributor level

Icon

0-50

Not yet rated

None

51-100

Bronze

101-500

Silver

>500

Gold

If the person who answers your question has a Gold medal next to their name, they are a Gold-level contributor, and you know that they have already answered more than 500 questions accurately (each post rated by the person who asked the question).

If you want more information about a contributor, such as how long they have been contributing to the Community, or the number of posts they have authored, you can learn about another author.

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What are Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs)?

Microsoft MVPs are also identified with an icon . These are individuals who have received the MVP award for their positive impact in the technical and product communities they participate in. They are viewed by their peers and by Microsoft as credible experts who provide accurate technical answers while sharing a common passion for technology.

MVPs are individuals from around the globe recognized by Microsoft for their demonstrated technical expertise and active participation in Microsoft peer-to-peer communities like discussion groups and message boards. These individuals represent a wide variety of backgrounds and professions, but they share the basic characteristics of having very strong technical skills in one or more Microsoft products or technology areas and the willingness to share that knowledge with others. MVPs are recognized for their past contributions to one or more online communities and many times are also prominent authors, developers, industry "gurus" or speakers.

The enthusiasm of the MVPs combined with their positive contributions exemplifies the spirit of strong communities.

More about MVPs

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The importance of rating answers

To build trust in communities, so that you and others know that you can count on the accuracy of the information you read in discussion groups, it is important that when you ask questions, you rate any answers you receive. If the post answered your question, it is important to give the contributor credit for the answer, by rating that post as an answer. If the post did not answer your question, you can rate the post as not the answer. Ideally, additional posts will be added that will answer your question.

Rate a post as an answer to your question

Moving up to the next contributor level

A contributor moves from one level to the next (from Bronze to Silver, or from Silver to Gold) according to the number of their posts that have been rated as answers. When a contributor reaches the required number of answers for the next level, their contributor level will change (from Bronze to Silver, or from Silver to Gold) after a waiting period of 4 weeks.

When you add a post to a discussion group, your contributor level is shown next to your name in the post (no icon, Bronze medal, Silver medal, or Gold medal). Your contributor level for this post does not change when you move to the next contributor level. If you add a post at the Silver level, that post will always show the Silver medal next to your name, even when you move to the Gold level. Each post shows the contributor level of the author at the time they added the post.

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How do I report an inappropriate post, screen name, or comment?

To report violations of the rules of conduct, or an inappropriate post, screen name, or comment, click the Contact Us link at the bottom of the screen.

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Keyboard shortcuts

Keys for navigating in the thread pane

Comma

Navigate to the previous post or thread

Period

Navigate to the next post or thread

ALT+7

Enter search words (activates the Search box)

ALT+M

Post a new message (New button)

ALT+R, ENTER

Reply to the selected post (Reply button)

ALT+I, ENTER

Show specific threads (displays the Show list above the thread pane)

ALT+P, ENTER

Print the post as a printer friendly message (Print  button)

ALT+L, ENTER

Copy the URL (address) for this post to the Windows Clipboard (Copy URL to clipboard  button)

ALT+N, ENTER

Receive e-mail notification when someone adds a reply to the selected thread (Notify me of replies button)

ALT+X, ENTER

Expand all threads (Expand All  button)

ALT+K, ENTER

Collapse all threads (Collapse All  button)

ALT+Z

Enter a page number (activates the Page box)

ALT+U

Rate the selected post positively (Click Yes next to Was this post helpful to you? or Did this post answer the question?)

ALT+B

Rate the selected post negatively (Click No next to Was this post helpful to you? or Did this post answer the question?)

ALT+1

Jump to the thread pane

ALT+2

Jump to the message pane

Keys for navigating in the Profile window

ALT+N

Enter your display name (activates the Display Name box)

ALT+O

Select your display e-mail address option (toggles the selection of the Display E-mail address options)

ALT+M

Enter your display e-mail address (activates the Enter a modified or secondary address box)

ALT+S

Enter the signature that you want added to the end of your posts (activates the My Signature box)

ALT+C

Enter information about yourself that you want to share (activates the About Me box)

ALT+K

Enter your notification e-mail address (activates the Edit button)

ALT+L

Select the language you want your e-mail notifications sent in (activates the Language list under My Notifications)

ALT+P

View your profile information (what others will see when they view your User Profile window)

ALT+U

Save your Profile

ALT+Q

Close your Profile

Keys for navigating in the Posting Interface

ALT+S

Enter the subject of the post (this is the title of the post)

ALT+B

Enter the body of the post

ALT+N

Enter your display name (activates the Display Name box)

ALT+T

Navigates to the Terms of Use for the post window

ALT+P

Submit your post

ALT+C

Cancel and Close the Post window

ALT+K

Navigate to the advanced options section

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Rules of conduct

We hope that you find the time you spend in Microsoft's Community Web sites to be useful and fun. To ensure that everyone has the best possible experience, we've established a few guidelines. Please take a moment to read them, and thank you for participating in a Microsoft Community.

Expectations of service

Microsoft's Role: Microsoft does not offer formal support for the communities you'll find here. Instead, our role is to provide a platform for people who want to take advantage of the global community of Microsoft customers and product experts. Microsoft may monitor content to ensure the accuracy of the information you'll find, but any information provided by Microsoft staff is offered "AS IS" with no warranties, and no rights are conferred. You assume all risk for your use.

Microsoft MVPs: Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) volunteer technical answers and expertise in many Microsoft Community Web sites. Microsoft MVPs come from a wide range of backgrounds and professions. All share a willingness to give their time, expertise, and advice to enhance the technical skills of others. MVPs are not Microsoft employees and Microsoft has no expectations of MVPs beyond the expectations of courtesy, professionalism, and adherence to the Community rules that we ask of all Microsoft community members. For more information on the MVP program and how you can become an MVP, see http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/.

Rules of conduct

Appropriate Language: The purpose of our communities is to exchange technical information and expertise about Microsoft products. Please avoid personal attacks, slurs, and profanity in your interactions.

Relevance to Topics: Please make sure that your postings in discussion groups and chats are relevant to the subject at hand. It is normal for some topics to drift from the stated subject. However, to ensure maximum benefit for everyone, we encourage you to keep your postings as close to the subject as possible.

Advertising/Solicitation: These communities were created as a forum for providing peer-to-peer assistance on Microsoft products and services. We ask that you refrain from posting advertisements or solicitations that do not pertain directly to the intended use and purpose of the newsgroup or chat.

Confidentiality: Please keep in mind that our communities are public spaces, so don't post anything that you don't want the world to see. Credit card numbers, product keys, and other confidential information, including anything covered under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), should not be posted to a discussion group, chat, or other community.

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