posting suggestions for the Word news groups?
This page last
02 Jan 2013 09:28:23 -0600
The first thing to remember is that nobody is paid to
answer questions in the newsgroups. They all have a day job doing something
else. Those who answer do so because they enjoy it. If you respect that, and try
to make it easy and enjoyable for people to answer you, then all the other tips
here will seem obvious. There is an excellent set of guidelines maintained by
William L. Whipple on general newsgroup posting etiquette. Go to http://www.ezine.com/netiquette.html.
Microsoft also has guidelines at http://support.microsoft.com/support/news/rules.asp.
- The only stupid
question is the one that you don't ask.
That said, if you can search the archives
to see whether your question has been answered already, you want
to do so. Treat others on the news group as busy friends. Try to
figure out the answer yourself before asking. . . . and then, when
you can't figure it out yourself, do ask.
polite. No one gets paid to monitor the
newsgroups nor to answer questions. You are dealing with your
They don't work for Microsoft. Some of them have a great deal of
expertise and you are getting it for free. Others may have little
general expertise but may have experienced and solved the same
problem that you are now facing. All suggestions are "as is" and
without any warranties.
Check to see which group is most relevant to your problem. Read the questions
and answers, and see if they are on a topic similar to your question. It may
even be that your question has already been asked and answered recently! If
you have made an honest effort to find an appropriate group, people will do
their best to answer you, even if the question is at the edge of the main
subject area of the group.
Thoughts of the MVPs about which news group is best for
which question may be found at:
Avoid posting to more than one newsgroup. It is very
unusual for it to be necessary to get half the answer from each of two
different groups. If you feel you *must* post your message to multiple
groups, please include the names of all the groups in the header for a
single message, rather than posting separate messages to each group. This
makes it easier for you and everyone else to keep track of who has replied
to the question. It is a real annoyance to those who answer to spend an hour
on a question only to find someone has already answered it in another group.
- Be as specific as possible in your
line (message header). (Saying: "Word
Problem" or "Help!!!" isn't going to catch the eye of somebody who
might know the answer.)
Examples: "Numbering Problem," "Templates for Network," Can't
install SR-1, or Error
message when running spell check
is much more informative and useful. However, even if that subject line says
your entire question,
repeat the question or problem in the body of your message. In some newsreaders (Outlook),
when the message is opened, the subject line becomes very
- Use "plain
text" not HTML or Rich Text for your
messages. For some people, such messages read like code or a foreign
- If nobody answers your question, it is probably because
nobody knows the answer. There is no guarantee that anyone will know the
answer, though most questions do get answered. There is also no guarantee
regarding response times an answer will appear when somebody who knows
the answer chances to read the question. Putting URGENT into a message
header is unlikely to make much difference as to when that will happen.
Likewise, repeating the same question just irritates people.
- If a different question occurs to you, post a
topic with the new question in the subject
line. Do not reply to the message you just read to do this. Most
readers use news-readers that group messages by topic and if you
don't change the topic (1) the person who can help you may ignore
your message because they don't know anything about / aren't
interested in the topic heading and (2) other users looking for
help on your question later won't find your question or the
answers to it.
- If asking for help, identify the
Word that you are using. The Microsoft Word newsgroups
address questions on 23
versions of Word, spread across eight operating systems. What are you using?
It is sometimes impossible to answer unless you provide the version of Word
and operating system you are using. The answers are often different
depending on the versions you have. Those attempting to answer can't see your screen.
(... and no, don't send along screen shots!)
- Describe your problem as fully as possible, including
where appropriate what you have tried so far when attempting to fix it.
Where possible, use the terms used within Word itself to describe what is
happening. Describe what you are trying to achieve overall. Sometimes people
concentrate so hard on a particular way of solving the problem, that they
don't notice that they are using a hammer to drive screws into the wall! If you get an
message repeat the exact error
- Don't send
attachments. This is a text-only newsgroup.
If you have a file that you want others to look at or to offer to
others, say so in your message. If you can post it on a website
give the URL, otherwise, people who want to look at your document
can e-mail you for a copy of it. (Note, many people who might answer your
question automatically screen out
messages that have attachments and never even see them.) If you
have a macro that you have a question about, use the VBA editor
and copy the VBA code into your message. (If you don't understand
that last sentence, don't worry about it.)
- Use your real name, or at
least something that looks like a real name. It seems somehow witless to
start a reply by saying Hi
MadDog, or whatever your
chosen alias is.
- If your English is not very good, don't worry nobody
is going to laugh at you. Do your best to explain your problem. If we have
trouble understanding something, we will ask you to explain again. There are
also groups dealing with Word that work in Arabic, German, Spanish, French,
Hebrew, Japanese and Korean. There is also an Office group in Russian. If
you are more comfortable with one of those languages, then by all means use
the appropriate group. Some MVPs are bilingual, and so the same information
tends to spread out across all the different language groups.
- On the other hand, if English is your mother
tongue, please try to remember to run the spellchecker before posting
and especially, try to ensure there are no errors in your subject
line. In a long thread, especially, these can become irritating for
- When responding,
as much of the original message in your reply as seems needed for
your reply to make sense. Some people reading your posting may not
have seen the message to which you are responding.
away excess. This makes for quicker downloads.
- Post your
responses to the
newsgroup if you are answering a problem.
Many people other than the person who asked the question will read
your response and learn from it. Newsgroups work well because everybody can
see all the information. Please do not email questions directly to people
you see on the newsgroup. With 300 million copies of Word out there, we have
to limit the amount of time we spend on this. Some MVPs simply will not
answer emails about Word at all if they did, they would never get any
work done! Others charge for email replies.
- MVPs and others answering questions on the newsgroups are
not Microsoft employees. Microsoft staff do not answer questions in the Word
newsgroups. If you want a direct response from Microsoft, then go to the
support pages on the Microsoft web site, and look up the support options
there. You may have to pay. If you think Microsoft has done something with
Word that is particularly stupid, don't blame the others on the newsgroup, we didn't do it! In fact,
we may well agree with you. Unfortunately, we have no more power than you to
get Microsoft to change it. If you want to suggest that they change Word in
some way, write to email@example.com
and include Word in the title of your message. The MVPs have been promised that
real people do read the messages mailed there, and that they pass the more
coherent ideas along to the relevant product groups.
- When you get help,
you." (see b above)
- The newsgroups are best accessed directly from the
Microsoft news server using a newsgroup reader, not through mirroring groups
or the Internet. This is easy to do. See
page on this.
See web resources for a listing
of news groups.
Much of the text on here was lifted verbatim from the MVP
website so as to be consistent between the FAQs.
(Charles Kenyon, the host/editor of this FAQ is not an MVP
just another user trying to sort things out.)
Download this FAQ in Word
Changes / suggestions / ideas can be sent to Charles
since 13 April 2004