Guidelines for the PowerPoint Support Forums
The PowerPoint Support Forums have a few simple guidelines. Following them will help keep the forums user-friendly, and will help you get the answers you need quickly and accurately.
First, remember that the forum is for User to User support and that most of the "regulars" are volunteers, not paid support staff.
PowerPoint MVP Sonia Coleman summed it up best:
"The help you receive in internet newsgroups and web forums is not really free, though it is willingly and happily provided at a very low and reasonable cost. The price of admission is respect and professionalism and is due and must be paid in full with each post and reply. That's what makes it such a great place for learning and for sharing what we have learned."
How User to User support forums and newsgroups work
Support forums and newsgroups are the internet version of the old "infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters" trick: Tell your problem to enough people and one of them is almost sure to have a solution.
Forums put your message in front of thousands of people. All you have to do is type it once.
Actually it's even better: When somebody answers your question, somebody else will reply with other ideas or to correct errors. Everybody with an interest in your problem can join in. That's why it works as well as it does.
And it gets better yet: Using Google Groups or the forum's search feature, you can search for answers that someone may already have posted instead of posting your question and waiting for a reply.
How to get help
First, do some searching to see if someone has already answered your question.
- Search the PowerPoint FAQ (this site)
- Use the forum's search feature.
- Type your question directly into Google, Bing or another web search engine.
- Search Google Groups
If that doesn't help, post your message on the forum. Be sure to include all the information needed to solve your problem. Please describe your problem as completely as you can. Include:
- The operating system version (ie, Windows XP Home, Vista, Mac OS X, etc.) and Service Pack (SP) level.
- Network type and version, if any.
- The version of Office/PowerPoint you're using and what Service Packs (SPs) have been applied.
- If you're using a trial, beta, web app, click-to-run or Office 365 version of PowerPoint, mention that too.
- A detailed description of what you were doing (or trying to do) when the problem arose.
- What you expected to happen; what actually DID happen instead.
- The full text of any informational or error messages that appeared
- Details about any printer or other special hardware involved, if any.
Our Problem Report Form will help you organize your thoughts and collect the needed details.
In the PowerPoint support forum, you can request email notification when someone replies to your question. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. It's always a good idea to check back for replies every so often.
Now you know what to do. Before you go off to do it, there are a few things you shouldn't do.
How to avoid annoying the people who can help you
- File attachments? Don't. Most forums don't allow file attachments. Even if they do, don't attach files. If somebody wants to look at your problem file, they'll ask you to email it or make other arrangements.
- Don't add lots of HTML formatting. Stick with plain text unless special formatting really makes your message clearer.
- Post your message just once. If you have a problem or comment, post it, then visit the newsgroup again periodically to see if anyone's responded. Posting the same question over and over won't get you faster service. It will annoy the neighbors.
- Don't bash Microsoft or the staff. There's no point. Microsoft sponsors the PowerPoint forums so that we can share problems, solutions and a little friendly chit-chat. They hire tech support staff to moderate some of the forums and support the MVPs who volunteer their time to answer many of your questions. Neither the MVPs nor the moderators have anything to do with Microsoft's policy and product decisions. Yelling at them won't solve your problem. It will make them less inclined to spend their free time helping you solve it. It'll probably get you and your question ignored.
- Don't ask for email replies. A private email conversation deprives you and others of the give and take that often produces a solution to your problem. Besides, most forum members ignore requests for email responses. It's simply considered bad form.
- Don't Spam. Littering the forum with commercial messages will annoy the very people you're hoping to sell to and may get you banned. BUT: If you know of a product that might help another user solve their problem, please say so. Just keep it low-key and non-commercial.
- Above all, be polite. Flames, personal attacks and rudeness are out. We're blessed with a great group of pleasant, helpful and knowledgeable people on the PowerPoint forums, both guests and the regulars. Let's keep it that way. If you disagree with something, by all means say so. Politely. Respectfully. We all learn from different ideas and points of view and yes, even our mistakes. But let's discuss ideas, not attack the people who express them.
End of Sermon. Thanks for bearing with it. But by the way, here's the Official Word from MS on Use of Services like the PowerPoint forum.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Welcome to the PowerPoint support forums. See you there!