Guidance on posting thread

Unanswered Question
Oct 27th, 2008

Is there any way we could have an "advice" type page for new or inexperienced posters that gives them a sort of template when posting their questions. So rather than

<br />

<br />I have a problem with one vlan not being able to talk to other vlans please help

<br />

<br />we get something which includes the following information

<br />

<br />Device type ie. router/switch/firewall and what exact model.

<br />

<br />IOS version being run

<br />

<br />IP addressing details (if relevant)

<br />

<br />Configuration details if relevant with a note to ask for sensitive information to be removed.

<br />

<br />We could explain that this would not only encourage more people to answer but that the original poster would also receive quality help in a far quicker manner.

<br />

<br />I know there are some days when i just do not have the energy to answer some of the more general posts :-)

<br />

<br />Jon

<br />

<br />

<br />

I have this problem too.
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Overall Rating: 5 (15 ratings)
andrew.burns Wed, 10/29/2008 - 02:13

Where to put it so that it actually gets read is the key - how about a guidance page that comes up *ONCE* when you click "Start a conversation" with a short FAQ about do's and don'ts (with some examples of what NOT to post). Or have a check box that allows you to have it appear every time you start a conversation just as a reminder?


Jon Marshall Wed, 10/29/2008 - 09:32


Agreed that is the key really. It would be good if we could automate it to an extent and there will always be people who can't be bothered to read it but i think a lot of new posters would post the relevant information if someone told them how to.


Sushil Kumar Katre Thu, 10/30/2008 - 00:22

Hi Guys,

How about NetPro putting a video on the guidelines of using this form including what to ask, what not to ask, what information if provided initially can expedite the resolution and talking about the rating system.

This can be done in addition to plain text.

Whenever you click on start a new conversaion, open a new page about these guidelines.

-> Sushil

rob.huffman Thu, 10/30/2008 - 06:29

Hey Guys,

Jon, this is really an excellent idea!

Andrew,Sushil these are also some great additions and thoughts on how this could work :) I have rated all of you +5 points for your continued stellar work here! It is very hard to troubleshoot an issue that just states "something doesn't work". It's like finding a needle in a haystack sometimes. This idea would be great for all involved and would inevitably lead to faster resolution and higher satisfaction.

Good stuff!


PS: It may be helpful to add to this tutorial that everyone here is only trying to help others and only does this to further their learning on a "volunteer basis" ;-)

Sushil Kumar Katre Thu, 10/30/2008 - 07:54

Hey Rob,

Thanks a lot.

I completely agree with you. Day before I stumbled through one of the posts, where the user was asking for quick resolution. His statement was something like - "Its very urgent, respond immediately".

This is mostly because few people are under the assumption that this forum is officially addressed by Cisco and they are bound to address the query within stipulated timelines, just like support groups. They don't realize that this is an open forum where people are taking time from their busy schedule to help others and share their knowledge & experience.

This message should go across to the users.

-> Sushil

Jon Marshall Thu, 10/30/2008 - 09:35

Sushil / Rob

Excellent points and rated. I think it is really important that people realise that these are volunteer forums and not supported by Cisco as such, altho thanks goes to Cisco for providing them :).


Sushil Kumar Katre Thu, 10/30/2008 - 10:15

Hi Jon,

Really appreciate you coming out with such a nice idea which I feel can help further sreamlining this excellent forum and help reducing unecessary chaos.

-> Sushil

Daniel Bruhn Thu, 10/30/2008 - 11:53


This is a fantastic idea! I'd like to add the posting guidelines as a link when ever someone starts a conversation. I've attached a screenshot of how it might look. What I'd like to do is get some additional feedback from everyone on what this document should entail. Let's use your initial thoughts below as our starting point. Please cut and paste the current suggestions in any new posts so it will make following the thread easier.

I'm not opposed to the other suggestions this thread has received so far, but wanted to get thoughts on if we should keep this guide strictly about post content or have it include more general things such as responses expectations and ratings? If the consensus is the tone should be general then we can add these ideas as well.


Dan Bruhn

NetPro Community Manager

PS: Sorry it took so long for me to chime in. I wanted to get approval for this before I posted :-)

All posts should include the following information:

-Device type ie. router/switch/firewall and what exact model.

-IOS version being run

-IP addressing details (if relevant)

-Configuration details if relevant with a note to ask for sensitive information to be


Jon Marshall Thu, 10/30/2008 - 16:16


I like the screenshot. I don't think we can force people to read something but as i said i do think a lot of people would post the right information if told how.

I guess i wrote the requirements based on my areas of involvement ie. Switching/Routing/Firewalling so it may well be that Rob and others can add their requirements eg. software versions (thinking of VOIP here) etc..

I think we need to keep it as short as possible but obviously with enough information to be useful.

As for ratings and response expectations. I can see the pros and cons of both. Ratings as we know are a bit of a touchy subject as some of the other threads in this specific forum testify to :). As you probably know i think the ratings system works quite well as it is, and on balance i personally don't feel we should include ratings advice. There is already a ratings link - perhaps we could just link through to that.

One of the key things that keeps me involved with NetPro is that these forums have a great "feel" to them. Everybody participating is generally there to help people. What i would be in favour of, as mentioned by Rob & Sushil, is to remind posters that this is purely a volunteer site and that the people helping are not getting paid or tied to Cisco in any commercial way.


rob.huffman Fri, 10/31/2008 - 06:03

Hey Guys,

Dan, as always, thanks for jumping in! You are one of the main reasons that these Forums are great.

Jon, I really admire your thinking here! I have added 5 points for your great thoughts on starting this thread (very innovative!) I would also recommend leaving the ratings aspect out of this completely as this new link should just be to help our peers add the relevant details to speed resolution to their issues. Plus, ratings is always a touchy subject (yikes!!)

As nicely suggested by Jon, each section of the Forums would need a little customization to be relevant, but that shouldn't be too difficult. Here are a couple of further examples;

All posts should include the following information:

For IP Telephony

-Platform type ie. Communications Manager/Communications Manager Express/UC500/IP Phone model.

-Release Version/Firmware/IOS being run

-Numberplan details (if relevant)

-Configuration details if relevant with a note to ask for sensitive information to be removed.

-Description of the actual problem and what if any steps to resolve or test have been performed

-Additional info related to recent upgrades patches etc.

-Is the issue intermittent/constant

For Unified Communications

-Plaform type ie. Unity/Unity Connection/Unity Express/MeetingPlace/MeetingPlace Express

-Release Version/SR's/Engineering Special

-Voice Messaging/Unified Messaging


-Configuration details if relevant with a note to ask for sensitive information to be removed.

-Description of the actual problem and what if any steps to resolve or test have been performed

-Additional info related to recent upgrades patches etc.

-Is the issue intermittent/constant

Just my early morning thoughts,



PS: I'm still voting for the removal of the 1 and 2 point ratings ;-)

acomiskey Fri, 10/31/2008 - 09:57

Good ideas all around. Why couldn't it be as easy as providing text boxes when a user posts for the relevant information? Nobody is going to read the guide imho. I think this may be what Jon was getting at when talking about a template. When a user creates a new conversation, the start a conversation page would include something like the following.

Conversation Title

Category or

Device or

IOS or dynamic drop down depending on what user selected as device?


The best thing about this is you can make certain fields required. Also, you could have 1 single "Start a conversation" page for all of netpro, where the user would select the category he want the thread to be in.

Also, once you have defined the criteria the user enters, you could use a similar form in the "Search Netpro" page instead of just being able to search for keywords/dates.

Sushil Kumar Katre Sun, 11/02/2008 - 20:07


All the ideas above are great, just one suggestion.

Instead of projecting these as Guidelines to use NetPro, projecting these points as Tips to get faster response, which is going to attract more users to read and answer your posts would be a good idea.

As a user when I read these points as guidelines I'll feel that I am being pushed to follow them, while reading the same points as tips to enhance my chances of getting faster resolution I'll automatically start following them.

-> Sushil

Daniel Bruhn Fri, 11/07/2008 - 14:42


I agree with this suggestion 100%


Dan Bruhn

NetPro Community Manager

Daniel Bruhn Fri, 11/07/2008 - 14:34


Templates are an interesting concept for NetPro. I feel your comment on it's “Search NetPro” effects would be a huge benefit for the community. A few questions that come to mind.

1. Do you think forcing users to follow a template may dissuade some users from posting?

2. What if the members question doesn't fit in a required field but is still a legitimate question?

3. How would we categorize the past 9 years worth of content?


Dan Bruhn

NetPro Community Manager

Jon Marshall Sat, 11/08/2008 - 13:13


I'm sure Adam will respond and Adam, not wishing to step on your toes.

Just my thoughts

1) Yes i think it would because some people may not have enough experience or have the inclination to fill out a template. Perhaps a compromise would be to allow a bypass feature on the template (but present the poster with the template first) and emphasize how much more beneficial for the poster it would be if they filled in the template.

I think the idea of tieing this up with the search function is a great idea but a lot then depends on the quality of the template and ease of use.

2) Use the bypass facility and perhaps have a feedback form so that it could be categorized in future if it needs to be.

3) Well you can search on keywords now in the search feature so once the template categories have been agreed a search could then be done using those keywords.

Obviously there would be posts, and maybe quite a few, that don't fit. If it is a lot then perhaps that tells us the categories need a bit more thinking about.

And the search results could be split between results that are returned due to being categorized and those returned because they didn't fit into the category but were found using the existing search function. Again this comes back to the ease of use of the template - if posters can't work out which category their post should go in then the search becomes less useful.


Daniel Bruhn Wed, 11/12/2008 - 13:25


Are you suggesting a different guide for each topic or a single guide that would include all the nuances for each technology? I personally think a single guide is the best approach, but wonder if some members would be overwhelmed with all the technology specific information if it was in a single document. Do you think we can get the point across by keeping the technology portion general or does it have to be specific such as your suggestions for IP Telephony and Unified Communications for it to be effective?


Dan Bruhn

NetPro Community Manager

scottmac Sun, 11/09/2008 - 10:48

This is a great idea.

My suggestion for implementation would be to remove one of the many Cisco promotion banners / box ads and substitute a "Cisco Thanks the NetPro Volunteers, and remind posters to please include the following information in their posts: Blah blah blah blah ....."

First, it remind the person with a question that the respondents are Volunteers, not paid staff, and perhaps the passive reminder to the poster that we can't read minds (yet, next Rev of code...) and that some basic info is more likely to get their question answered in a shorter time because we don't have to play 20 questions from 10 timezones away.

IF the passive approach doesn't work, then maybe put in an intercept page with a "gentle" reminder of what constitutes "helpful" information ... maybe in the future, give them a form to fill in the blanks that ask them the basics, then a bigger box for the details.

Using a form with a couple basic fields would make it easier to index for searching too.

Whatever. Good post/topic Jon!

Sushil Kumar Katre Tue, 11/11/2008 - 02:49


Have a look at this post -

Post Started - Oct 24, 2008, 4:29am PST

First Reply - Oct 24, 2008, 5:05am PST

Update by Post Owner - Oct 24, 2008, 6:37am PST

Request to take this issue on priority - Oct 24, 2008, 9:03pm PST

Next Update - Nov 10, 2008, 9:18pm PST

User is asking to take his issue on priority and asking for updates.

Jon's idea will help keeping the expectations right.

-> Sushil

rob.huffman Thu, 11/13/2008 - 06:42

Hey Folks,

Just thought that I might jump back in for a moment here :) I must say that I much prefer the passive approach for sure. This type of new feature should (in my opinion) just be offered to posters as a point of reference to guide them towards faster resolution and a more satisfying experience. Perhaps it could be linked/called something like "Tips for Posting a NetPro Question"

Whatever info can be added at this point is just a plus for all involved. These could be in the form of Templates, FAQ's or Sample posts as long as the overall content points our peers to providing the pertinant info :) I'm sure we all had many questions when we first started out here in these great Forums (I know that I sure did) so these references may alleviate some confusion on what/where to post and also how best to describe the nature of the issue/s.

Thanks to all involved here! You ROCK!


Scott Cannon Sun, 01/04/2009 - 22:50

Hi Guys,

Not having a coloured star next to my name but being an avid reader and advocate of these forums, might I humbly make a suggestion...

How about a search engine that, when a new post is created, searches the exisitng posts, based on subject and/or content for related material?

I often find posts asking a question that has already been asked/answered. I've actually done this before myself. Having unsucessfully searched for a solution/answer to an issue I've posted it only to find an identical question had already been asked weeks or months before.



scottmac Mon, 01/05/2009 - 17:47

That would be an interesting idea, and AJAX would "probably" do the trick ... but I believe most of the Cisco forums are Perl, maybe Mason based ... so AJAX might not be easily implemented.

Also, this would probably be better as a separate thread, as it's pretty much entirely off-topic for this thread.

Thanks for pitching in; I think this would be really cool ("IWBC" - "It Would Be Cool," yet another possible suggestion area for the forum) if they could do this, but don't be shy about opening another topic/thread ... Cisco's got lots of resources (and a fat checkbook if they don't).

Good Luck


rob.huffman Tue, 01/06/2009 - 06:32

Hey Scott and Scott,

Good stuff! ScottMac, love the IWBC - Idea! +5 for always great and entertaining posts.

Scott...very cool idea and worthy of it's own thread (as Scott nicely noted) +5 points for you as well. In reference to your clip;

"Not having a coloured star next to my name but being an avid reader and advocate of these forums, might I humbly make a suggestion..."

We all started off here with no colored badge, and they really are irrelevant when it comes down to the value of the post itself. These Forums are open to all who wish to participate and their overall value increases in equal measure with this participation. Your words carry the exact same weight as all others here and that is what makes it such a great community :)

Here is the definition of Forum (I think the key word here is **open)

Main Entry: fo·rum

Pronunciation: \ˈfȯr-əm\

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural forums also fo·ra \-ə\

Etymology: Latin; akin to Latin foris outside, fores door - more at door

Date: 15th century

1 a: the marketplace or public place of an ancient Roman city forming the center of judicial and public business

b: a public meeting place for open discussion c: a medium (as a newspaper or online service) of open discussion or expression of ideas

2: a judicial body or assembly : court

3 a: a public meeting or lecture involving audience discussion b: a program (as on radio or television) involving discussion of a problem usually by several authorities

Keep on postin'




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