How to become a DUG Expert? Or how to answer questions on DUG?

What should I take into consideration while answering a question?

It doesn’t take a lot to be considered an expert by new members – the mere action of commenting in a question makes you one as far as the Dynamics User Group is concerned. But it takes a lot to become a real expert, and this page is all about that.

In the Dynamics User Group we want to have the best information possible for our members, and the members who provide answers to questions are integral to that. They are surely our experts. However, it is not the effort one puts into a question that makes it valuable or worth saving; it’s the answer.

  • Understand the questions

    Make sure you understand what the user is really asking for. While the majority of DUG’s users come from North America and the UK and have English as their first language, there are users from all over the globe, and some may not be as fluent in English as others. Take the time to clarify what the user is trying to find out; otherwise, you might spend a lot of time and do a lot of work for no good reason.

  • Understand the author’s goal

    Occasionally, the question doesn’t really tell you the whole problem; for example, telling someone how to use a specific functionality of Dynamics doesn’t help someone who has an old version where this functionality isn’t available. Similarly, programming can solve everything, but it’s not always the best way, when a very simple solution or workaround is available.

  • The author’s level of expertise

    Question authors have all levels of expertise; sometimes, they may be experts in one area and a complete beginner in another. Occasionally, you’ll find that your technically perfect answer gets overlooked in favor of the simple, less-correct solution. The reason: Your solution was too complex for the user’s actual know-how.

  • Keep your answers clear

    Keep your comments to the point and clear; similarly, if you post code, make sure it is clean and free of extraneous detail. Use terminology that makes your answer easy to understand, and give links to appropriate resources if more explanation could be helpful. If you use a link, make sure it is a good one; many websites change frequently. Understand that industry terminology which makes perfectly sense to you, might not be know outside your own country.

    Do not copy and paste a solution from someone else’s site; the preferred method is to link to the page and always to give a brief description of what is linked. The moderators will remove obvious copy-and-paste answers from the question, as plagiarism is theft of intellectual property.

  • Use common sense

    There are always several ways of doing something. Changing something a little bit and then posting it as a completely new solution, or repeating a previous post word for word is rude. If you have something new to contribute or you can expand or add to a previous comment, then make sure you give credit where it is due. There is no rule that says you MUST attempt to answer each question; if you don’t have anything new to contribute, or if your alternative approach does not offer significant advantages, just move on to the next question.

  • Read question and previous posts before commenting

    Questions often evolve over time. Experts offer possible solutions, the Asker tries them and continues to have problems, so more suggestions are offered and tried. Quite often, the original question was wasn’t exactly what was intended and the Asker clarifies and restates the problem halfway down the page. It is important to read the entire thread so that you know the current situation. That will keep you from posting a duplicate answer or one that has already been shown not to work.

    If you basically agree with another comment but have something more to add, remember to give credit for the original suggestion – mention that Expert by name – in your post.

    If you just want to say that you agree with the someones solution, then instead of posting “I agree” you should just rate the post.

  • Be professional

    Part of being an Expert is knowing your stuff. As important is treating the asker and your colleagues as professionals. Check your ego and your attitude at the door; rudeness, derogatory comments, and sarcastic remarks are uncalled for, and will not be tolerated. Remember that the Dynamics User Group is a Community site, in which you, the Asker, and other Experts work together to resolve the problems.

    If a user ask a question which has been asked again and again, then you shouldn’t jump out and say “USE THE SEARCH!”, but politely ask them if they have tried the search function, as you know that an exact similar question has been asked before.

  • Be prepared to follow up

    Some questions have simple, easy-to-understand answers; others don’t. Still others are asked by people who don’t have your background or technical skills. In the latter two cases, be prepared to give follow-up information and assistance. Abandoning a user in mid-question is almost worse than having the question abandoned by the asker.

  • Patience is a virtue

    Take your time with the questioner. Frequently, the user is under some time pressure, and needs an answer quickly; you won’t help the situation by being impatient with him. Give him your attention; offer the best workaround you can if there is no direct solution. In short, don’t make his situation worse by giving him the short-shrift.

  • Avoid criticizing

    It’s not something we see a lot on the Dynamics User Group, but there’s nothing to be gained by criticizing another Member when disagreeing with his/her suggestions, and it can actually make things worse by provoking a flame war. Don’t take a critical comment personally; stay focused on the object – solving the asker’s problem. Don’t take the bait; if someone is acting unprofessionally, report it to moderators.

  • Smile

    Presentation counts. Sometimes it’s not just the solution, but how the solution is presented. Stay positive with the user; make him/her feel like the two of you will solve the problem.

  • Test your solution when possible.

    One of the most annoying things for an inexperienced coder of any kind is to take something that is purported to be a solution, try it, and have it fail because of a typographical error in the original. Take the time to test your code to ensure that it works; you’ll come across as a professional, and it will keep the thread a lot cleaner.

The inspiration to this pages comes from:

Do we have a problem with the frame size ? All the lines are cut off in the middle of something.

Oh yes I see that now. I was actually writting this up in word and just copied it over. I’ll fix it right now.