New Forums Design: Suggestions, Impressions, Ideas

New Forums Design: Suggestions, Impressions, Ideas

The forums underwent a complete re-design on June 19, 2013 and there are many things that can be done to improve them or make them usable. There is a special dedicated forum where we can discuss our ideas.

Some of these individual suggestions below are now in the Suggestions and Feedback forum for the community to vote.

Community Suggestions

Starting from the ideas provided by Blackwood in this thread "Suggestions for Improving the new forum design" and expanding that list:

  • The "My Forums" page should show the time of the last post to the each forum.  This functionality actually disappeared several months ago  - Originally Reported in this thread and carried over to the new forums


  • Add Forum's filter to My Threads view - Please vote in this thread 


  • Add "Unread" filter to all the views and "Read with new messages" filter. - Please vote in this thread  - This is partially implemented with the latest Forums release in the 'My Threads' view


  • The list of threads appears to have a maximum width of about 700 pixels, which wastes space on a large screen and makes the listing for a single thread take up too many lines - Please vote in this thread and also see interesting suggestions in this thread


  • In the list of threads the thread title should be limited to one line in the list


  • Add the right panel with Profile and all useful links back to be permanently visible. I do not need left panel, but I need the right panel as it used to be - Please vote in this thread


  • If the list of threads is to include a snippet from each post, the snippet should be limited to one line in the list. I suggest to be able to have this optional


  • If the list of threads is showing threads from a single forum, each item on the list does not need to have a whole line devoted to telling us which forum the thread is from - Please vote in this thread


  • The list of threads should clearly distinguish between threads that have not changed since the last time I viewed them, threads I have viewed before but have new replies, and new threads.  There seems to be an attempt to do this using italics and bold face, but the difference between bold and not bold in the thread title is so slight that I haven't been able to work out what the rule is.


  • Some forums did not in the past, and do not now show any threads in bold or italics. For example,  Directory Services.


  • When viewing a thread, the name (and avatar) of the poster and the date/time of the post should be prominently displayed at the top of each post. - Please vote in this thread


  • When I click the browser's Back button while viewing a post, I should be taken back to the previous page. About 50% of the time, I'm simply taken to the top of the current page, clicking back again does nothing.  So far I have only tested this in Chrome, it is possible that it doesn't affect all browsers.


  • When I filter on something, like "proposed answers", then go to the second page, then click "Back", I seem to go to the main forum page (with all threads) instead of the first page of proposed answers. I can get to the first page by clicking "previous", but then I have lost my back sequence.


  • Thread url's no longer indicate the forum.


  • Sticky threads show up at the top of the list of threads in a forum, but then again in the list by last reply (but without the sticky icon). - Please vote in this thread


  • There is no need to see sticky threads after searching for a keyword in a single forum. - Please vote in this thread


  • There is no need to see all edits of the post, the very last edit information is enough. See sample in this thread


  • When a post is marked "Answer" or "Proposed Answer" I can no longer tell who marked it or when (unless I am moderator in the forum). This was valuable information - Please vote in this thread 


  • The browser tab should be name of the forum, not just "MSDN Forums" or "Microsoft TechNet Forums" - Please vote in this thread


  • Forum name somewhere on the page, preferable a clickable path 


  •  "Mark all read" functionality is needed 


  • List of Top Answerers is no longer specific to a forum - Please vote in this thread


  • When a thread is moved, there is no longer any indication of who, when, where from, or even if it was moved. - Please vote in this thread


  • Search should allow for quoted text to be search as an exact string match.  i.e. searching for Visual Studio 2008 would return results with any of the keywords but searching for "Visual Studio 2008" would return results that ONLY had that exact phrase in them.


  • Do not mix posts from multiple categories into one single huge page.  For example: Question pertaining specifically to Windows XP Embedded should not be mixed in with questions relating to Windows Embedded Standard 7.  Only providing a filter is not a complete solution.  Provide a way to keep the messages separated by category on a single page.  The Windows Embedded topic has 10 different categories and questions rarely overlap.  Asking people to keep 10 separate tabs if they want to track all the categories is very counter productive.


  • Here is a VERY quick and dirty suggestion for some Look and Feel changes:
  • The indicator for a locked thread is almost invisible. See below for a suggested change:
  • There should be a way to select or deselect multiple forums without reloading the list of posts after each click.


  • Sticky notes appear in every filtered view, for example proposed answers, unanswered, and answered questions. - Please vote in this thread


  • You can only page through a filtered view of threads one page at a time. There is no way to jump the last page, for example if you want to deal with unanswered questions in reverse order.


  • When navigating to the next page in the list of threads, the top of the next page should be displayed instead of the bottom.


  • Page navigation at the bottom of the pages - There is not "First", "Last", or specific page number selector.  What if I am on Page 23 of 67 and want to go to the last page?  I do not want to click "Next" 44 times. - Please vote in this thread


  • While you're at it, put a (fixed) Page Navigation area at the top of the page as well as the bottom. - Please vote in this thread


  • When threads are viewed on the multithread page by opening them up with the dropdown arrow they do not change status to indicate they have now been read when the dropdown closes them back up.  i.e. - Show a forum list with many threads, all collapsed and some not read.  Expand a post with the dropdown.  Read it.  Then collapse it back up with the dropdown.  The font stays either bold or italic.  In order to see that the thread has been read, it is necessary to reload the page.


  • Remove Votes block appearing on the thread next to thread type, it doesn't add any value and consumes space on the screen. - Please vote in this thread


  • We don't see information indicating that a thread was merged, which can be confusing. - Please vote in this thread


  • Remove the tooltip shown when the forum name is moused over, as it is too large and doesn't offer useful information. - Please vote in this thread


  • Users don't see who changed the type of a thread. - Please vote in this thread


Implemented Requests

  • The list of threads should show the name of the user who started the thread, the date/time the thread was started and the name of the user who last replied. This information is more useful than a snippet from the post (and definitely more useful than the number of views). This item has been partially addressed (20 June, 2013). Thank you!
  • "My Threads" page currently has no visual indication which threads have replies since last time I checked. It should have an easy indication which threads have new replies - Reported in this thread and fixed with the latest forums' service pack. Thank you!
  • The "My Forums Threads" page now seems to have disappeared.  This was previously suggested as a work-around for not being able to see which of "My Forums" has had a recent post. - Voted in this thread and  added back by the latest forums' service pack. Thank you!
  • No longer an indication of which threads we have marked for us to be alerted - Voted in this thread and implemented by the latest Forums Release. Thank you!
  • Make the poster's and last replier's names actual links in "list views" - Voted in this thread and implemented by the latest Forums Release. Thank you!
  • There should be no need to provide a reason for editing a post. It is required now if you edit your reply, but it is only visible to moderators. - Voted in this thread and implemented by the latest Forums Release. Thank you!  
  • Make an easy way to add / remove forums to 'My Forums' list - Voted in this thread - This new process is described in the MSDN/TechNet Forums - How to Add/Remove Forums from My Forums List article

Note: Report any new bugs here.

Updates and Hotfixes

See Also

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Wiki - Revision Comment List(Revision Comment)
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  • Naomi  N edited Revision 47. Comment: Added page navigation please vote

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 46. Comment: Attempt of formatting

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 45. Comment: Added please vote about Move option

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 44. Comment: Added bug thread

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 43. Comment: Added date

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 42. Comment: 3 more please votes

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 40. Comment: One more please vote

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 39. Comment: Added one more please vote

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 37. Comment: Removed Note, increased font

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 36. Comment: Added a few please vote statements - someone please add more

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  • Naomi  N edited Revision 82. Comment: Formatting

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 83. Comment: Formatting

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 84. Comment: Formatting

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 85. Comment: Formatting

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 86. Comment: Formatting

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 87. Comment: Formatting

  • How the forums website must look? Do we really need to stick with the word "FORUM" and the concept "FORUM"? Can we "reinvent" this concept and marry it with the existing, yet popular and amazing, concepts out there?  

    Here is my take on it:

    From UX view point; in technical QA, the actual answer along with the candidate answers of much be separated from the comments.

    You guys can really get ideas from StackExchange community, especially tags-based posts.. to incorporate "A post may belong to multiple tags/categories". Also, the sticky posts should not be only from Microsoft employees or partners. They may be coming from anyone with highest votes/views/answers/comments or based on some weightage equation to incorporate multiple factors.

    I know back in stone age, forums were strictly meant to be "traditional looking forums". But for sake of argument, consider this:

    - UX wise Microsoft Community QA website is similar to TechNet social forums.

    -Then on TechNet forums we have questions and discussion.

    So each aspect of it needs to be diversified. Visually the QA aspect of TechNet forums must be different than discussion.

    Discussion means "all comments has leveled hierarchy", they may be traditional forums or they may be similar to chat rooms in Stackoverflow.

    QA implies "help". "I need specific answers". "I need multiple suggestions" etc.. But eventually one answer will be the winner. All the related talk goes in comments to question or answer. Voting is a separate criteria: "how community respond to your answer" and it can be negative too.

    Further, this idea can be extend to integration of other social and bug reporting technical systems of MSFT. Like:

    - ability to share your post or badges or points on SOCL.

    - if your question renders a bug identification in some product (say IE), OP or anyone can flag the question to take vote for posting on Connect: "Y number of people with X reputation" need to vote to make it happen. (If this idea gets successful, then altogether the posting of bugs directly to connect may get disallowed. The Connect system may require the user to discuss the issue first with TechNet community and claim it as bug report like that.. believe it or not it will solve two problems, people who use connect know what happen to 90% of your feedback, yet another rant).

    - if your answer is general and belongs to Microsoft Community, the you get flagged and your post will be migrated there. (instead getting closed).

    Hope someone out there agree with these suggestions and get excited by the way I wish TechNet forums, Microsoft Community and related websites get married. 8-)

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 88. Comment: Added note about Sticky threads and Search

  • Naomi  N edited Revision 89. Comment: Moved implemented requests