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We wanted to follow up on the survey post that we ran not so long ago and give you an idea of what some results told us.
Although 44% of you tagged yourselves as lurkers, we had an overwhelming amount of participation in the "Community and Help Experience" survey. We want to thank all of you for taking the time to leave thoughtful and detailed responses. As I write, we are looking at this information carefully for ways to respond and improve the experience both short and long term. In planning for the next version of Exchange we want to envision ways to integrate help and the community experience into the product itself while also introducing people to the community through the product. We are finding it very interesting to learn more about what drives our community members to contribute. Many of you contribute to help others and to learn more about the project. And not surprisingly, the more expert you felt yourselves to be, the more likely you were to contribute.
Just this morning, we discussed the results of this survey. We were surprised to learn that most folks answered that they 'ignore the help file (CHM)' when they encounter a problem with Exchange. We hope that will change with Exchange Server 2007. We really think it's very different from past release's help files and we hope it will be useful to you – and most importantly, we want you to tell us if not! (2007 Documentation: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/exchange/2007/downloads/documentation.mspx) We can update the help on the web after RTM (indeed, we do this on a monthly schedule already!) so any feedback you give us will be immediately helpful. Most of you, of course, rely on search to find information. This was not surprising and really tells us that we need to find ways to integrate the online search experience into the product, whether through search, instrumentation, whatever. We are working on this, brainstorming ways to leverage existing infrastructure, aggregate what exists, create entry points, and create truly contextual help and community experiences.
Many of you thrive (out of necessity) on troubleshooting a hard problem and sharing what you've learned. But, when those problems involve multiple products, then the help systems we have today are just not adequate. You want to see more (and more) product team blogs and find them useful and technically accurate. We can't help but wonder are the blogs valued because the core help content isn't useful? If the core help content rocked, would there still be as much demand for blogs? Please leave comments on this entry with your thoughts...
We know that finding a potential answer is not enough for many of you, most will look to verify that result in some way and when you find that information on a product team member blog we know that in many cases it can save you time. In addition to increasing blog presence, we want to find (more) scalable ways to help you validate information. Many of you recommended blogs that you find helpful and we have also noticed ourselves that many exchange-focused blogs tend to be list of links of things that the blogger found useful. Wouldn't it be cool if exchange admins could exchange their list of favorite resources & links with each other, and the most commonly linked resources would bubble to the top? Well, we are looking at implementing exactly these types of concepts by looking through your verbatim feedback with the intent of fostering more community and especially offering third party integration with our help system.
Right now, 51 different companies, from regions as diverse as Germany, Finland, Spain and China have responded to our survey. This is a fantastic way for us in Redmond to get a feel for how IT Pros around the world interact with our help and community systems and how they wished they could interact with our help and community systems. The feedback has been varied, but we are beginning to note some patterns, which we'll share when we get more data points through additional surveys and focus groups.
One pattern we noticed was that many of you tend to join forums in your geographic location, we are wondering is this out of convenience to your native language? If we were to translate our forums for you, on the fly, would you then be interested in joining a universal forum? Please leave comments on this entry with your thoughts...
- Exchange User Experience Team