My buddy Josh Ledgard has a posts on the search for the best way to provide online discussion forums on Microsoft technologies for our customers. He has two posts that kick of his thoughts on the issues; MVP Summit Views and Issues with Threaded Discussions and Brainstorming Results of Online Discussion Solutions. In the former he basically states that during the MVP Summit the major feedback he got from MVPs was that they want discussions in an online forum to have all the functionality of NNTP newsgroups and newsreaders provide today (offline capability, watches, authentication & identification, etc) but they don't like the amount of traffic in the NNTP newsgroups. 

Josh's second post mainly tries to address the fact that a number of groups at Microsoft felt that newsgroups are a low tech solution and have ended up creating alternate online forums such as the ASP.NET forums and GotDotNet message boards. This basically has fragmented our developer support experience and is also problematic for product teams since we need to monitor multiple online venues using multiple tools.

My simple suggestion is that the various Microsoft forums should emit RSS that fully supports the Comment API and wfw:commentRss then developers will step up to the plate and create online or desktop aggregators that combine both the NNTP newsgroups and the Web forums. One of the reasons I plan to add NNTP support to RSS Bandit is exactly because I now have to use 3 different tools to monitor our developer forums (Outlook for mailing lists and to get alerts from Web forums, Outlook Express for NNTP newsgroups and RSS Bandit for blogs). There's no reason why I can't collapse this into two tools or even one if one uses something like Newsgator.

Josh and I are supposed to have lunch tomorrow. I'll see what the Visual Studio team is thinking of encouraging in this direction if anything.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004 1:19:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Yeah, that's quite irritating ASP.NET forums don't support commentAPI. That's irritating also they don't provide full content for posts.
So while I can see a new post somewhere in ASP.NET forum, to answer it (or to find out it's answered already) I have to open it in a browser! Too bad.
The same goes for Gotdotnet.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004 6:04:34 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
An idea I've been toying around with is to write a plug-in for Rss Aggregators that can convert an HTML site into an Rss feed using a templating system a friend developed.

Basically, you view source on the page you want to monitor and replace the areas of the html page you want to watch with special tags. Then, when the content changes in the "tagged" areas, a new feed item is created.

It's a dirty hack, but that's my last name. Of course, if we can convince everyone to emit an XML feed, this isn't necessary.
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