WARNING: "How cool am I?" post.
I've always wanted to spend some time on the SharePoint forums, just to see the fun and benefits of being a "regular".
I put some initiative into it and, I have to say, the forums are more than what I expected.
Here is why I think the forums are important for the community and every SharePoint expert out there:
- When preparing an answer, you think about the issues and concepts around the asked question. This educates you. I answer to people, and when I do so I look over my notes on the topic. I have a huge arsenal of material on SharePoint concepts from which I pull out info and I always look up on a search engine to find anything recent. Going over knowledge and blogs is a learning experience. The end result - I am a better SharePoint expert.
- You see trends of problems. This helps you understand common misconceptions so you can address them through blogs or open-source solutions. You see the biggest problems of the product, and the most often encountered headaches. You end up knowing more about your ecosystem.
- You help people and they say thanks. And this makes you feel good. It also raises your profile, which is important for the self-development of everyone.
- And of course, you get the opportunity to ask a question. If you are lucky, someone might even answer within minutes. No support ticket could do this for you.
A screenshot from my activity (taken today):
Which forums do I like? I'm currently a big fan of SharePoint 2010 General Questions and Answers as the questions cover everything and anything. People seem to ask all kinds of stuff here, configuring, development, architecture, search , PowerShell, you name it. I also poke around the others, but that one is my favorite.
How much time does it take? Not much - I answer questions while I wait for something else. Either a person, a task, a system job or an email. Answering a question takes a few minutes if you know the answer. What could cost you time is researching a problem, but hey, that is my job. I should know, so I don't mind looking into issues or concepts that I don't know the answer to. Either way, it is time which I am happy to give.
Last point - people ask me questions ALL the time. I always give them the answer, but ask them to post the question to the forums so everyone could benefit from my answer.
So don't think about it, post a question :)
See you on the forums!