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How to write a good forum post

Hey everyone.

Firstly, welcome and thank you for being a part of this amazing community. We are now well over 25,000 users and there are some awesome posts, questions and solutions. After helping a few people out I start to see some patterns and wanted to write a short (I failed) post on how to write a good question. This focus comes from the viewpoint of an “expert” who is here trying to help others.

Firstly, a few things to remember:

1. This is NOT Microsoft Support. It’s a community of users, which happens to contain some Microsoft employees hired to provide “community” answers. The rest of us are users, just like you. We are weird in that we like to spend our relaxation time helping answer other people’s questions.

2. We don’t know everything. So, if we don’t have an answer, don’t hate us. That’s the time to go to Microsoft Support or hire an “expert”.

3. Don’t get mad if we can’t help. Sometimes we might try to help you, take you around the houses a bit and then fail to find you a solution. Please don’t get frustrated with us if that happens. We are trying our best and maybe we don’t fully understand your issue or just can’t find a solution. Remember: We do this in our spare time and you should appreciate those efforts even if we are unable to help.

4, The more context and information you give us, the more likely we are able to help you. Saying “My Get Data Action worked twice and doesn’t now. What’s wrong?” Is unlikely to get an answer and maybe not even a response. Help us to help you by giving us the information we need.

5. Try to fix it yourself first. Then again. Then again. And then ask us. We want to help, but we aren’t giving away free consultancy. Try to learn, try to win and then when you really have tried everything you can…. ask.

6. Search the forum. It’s rare to come across a unique issue these days. Chances are someone has already tried it. Search this forum first to see if your question has been previously asked. We get very bored answering the same question over and over.

7. Be nice. Always.

So, with these thoughts in mind, here’s how you can help us to help you.

1. Give your post a good, short but meaningful title. We scan through the topics picking posts we think we can help with. If we don’t understand your title we won’t click through to read the rest.

2. Give us context. If we know what you are trying to achieve then we can help you to diagnose your issue, or even offer an alternate approach. So tell us what you are trying to do. If it’s sensitive and secret then make up a similar scenario that we can work with. It’s important to give us enough context, but don’t waffle and get confusing. Too much, or irrelevant, information might make it harder to hone in on what we are actually being asked.

3. Tell us what’s not working. Based on the context give us an explanation of what you expect to happen and what is actually happening.

4. Show us your Flow. Screen shots REALLY help us see what you are doing. Provide enough information and context so that we can see what your Flow does. If it’s secret, create a new Flow that ONLY does the bit that fails and show us that. Hey. You might even solved your own problem bug trying this!

5. Give us some error messages. If your Flow is failing then you are probably getting an error message. Tell us what it is and we will get a LOT of direction from that alone. I keep solving issue after issue because a date format is wrong. I see that instantly from an error message. Same with a missing SharePoint column.

6. Tell us what you have tried. We can then skip straight over those options and hone in on the real issue.

7. Sign off with a nice pleasant TIA or some pre-emptive appreciation. This warms us to you.

8. Once we have all that information we are primed and ready to help. If you don’t, then we are likely to come back and ask you for it. Or just skip over your question and move on to the rest.


- Mark

Cross-posted to:
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