Microsoft dropped a hefty update for its Q&A platform that brings new UI, new functionality and new features for anyone who is seeking information about the company’s multitude of services, software, hardware and platforms.
Earlier this week Community Manager Richard Hay took to Twitter to break the news that the team behind maintain Microsoft’s Learn communications platform updated the service and pointed to its release notes to highlight the laundry list of new items.
- An improved user experience that is optimized for readability, improved workflows and efficiency.
- There is now support for themes. The view will default to following the one in place by the operating system but users can manually change the setting with support for those making use of High Contrast for accessibility.
- The team also updated its web editor for entering questions and answers with a new feature loaded Markdown interface. Users can drag/drop, copy/paste, or browse for image attachments to include their posts as well as entering preserved formatted content pulled from other places.
- Users will now note there is a unified search option across Microsoft Learn content and the Q&A platform for quicker access to solutions. The new Search will show a question preview of up to 255 characters which should be enough to know whether links are useful before clicking. The Q&A team is looking to revise the filtering and sorting capabilities of Search soon.
- The team introduced a content rating system that users can utilize to identify useful answers as well as a mechanism for switching ratings to better answers down the road. Any authenticated user can click on I have the same question control, so users answering can find out the most popular questions.
- For the social butterflies out there, the Q&A team added support for sharing answers outside of the Q&A platform.
Steps to share:
- Go to a question.
- Click on the overflow menu (the icon with three vertical dots) at the top of the page.
- Select the option to share the content to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Mail.
- Users can opt for site-wide banner notifications or platform announcements as well as receiving info via email.
- User reputation enhancements now include affiliation, reputation points, and follows.
- Lastly, there is the list of features that have been swapped with newer solutions as well as those that are unsupported at this time.
- We replaced Sticky posts with banners
- We replaced the Close question capability with duplicate questions
- The following is a list of features that are not currently supported, but we are planning to support them on an upcoming release:
- Filter by questions you follow
- Related questions
- Community experts will evolve into Community Champions
- Private messages
The following is a list of features that are no longer supported:
- Posting feedback. Microsoft is in the process of unifying product feedback and will be moving Learn platform there in the future, this includes Q&A. In the meantime, you can provide us feedback by using the Microsoft Q&A tag.
- Threaded comments (a comment on a comment). This is to ensure a more focused conversation to get the question answered as improve readability.
- User’s page
- Ability to see revisions
- RSS Feeds
As someone who used to frequent forums, communities and feedback hubs for several products and software, these new features are a welcome addition. Hopefully, I won’t have to use them often.