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Move Over, Stack Overflow: Microsoft Launches Q&A for .NET

Stack Overflow probably isn't worried, but Microsoft has launched its own Q&A site for all things .NET, seeking to provide a one-stop-shop for getting .NET technical questions answered by the community.

Eventually, the company said, the new Microsoft Q&A for .NET site (which inexplicably is actually titled ".NET on Q&A") will take over existing forum sites for .NET topics, including MSDN, ASP.NET, IIS.NET and Xamarin.

"Have you ever been working on some code and ran into an issue and needed to ask someone for help?" said Microsoft's James Montemagno in a Nov. 25 blog post. "Maybe you are looking for assistance on how to start your next app or perhaps you are seeking some architecture guidance? What if there were one place where you could go to get your technical questions answered by experts from Microsoft and the community? Well there is now with the launch of Microsoft Q&A for .NET!"

Microsoft Q&A for .NET (or .NET on Q&A)
[Click on image for larger view.] Microsoft Q&A for .NET (or .NET on Q&A) (source: Microsoft).

In its current state, the site has main categories for:

  • Runtime
    • .NET 5
    • .NET Core
    • .NET Framework
  • App & Web Development
    • Cross-platform Development
    • Desktop Development
    • Mobile Development
    • ASP.NET Core
    • ASP.NET (Classic)
  • Languages, Data and more
    • Languages
      • C#
      • F#
      • Visual Basic
    • Machine Learning & AI
      • ML.NET
      • .NET for Apache Spark
    • Data
      • Entity Framework
      • Entity Framework Core
      • ADO.NET
      • SQLite
      • SqlClient
    • Acquisition and Deployment
      • Standalone Installers
      • Visual Studio
      • Linux (feeds)
      • Docker
      • Enterprise Deployment
    • Tools
      • .NET CLI
      • MSBuild
      • Package Management
      • Visual Studio
    • More
      • IoT
      • Game Development

And all of those categories lead to further segmentation. For example, under "Visual Studio" there are categories for General, MSBuild, Debugging, Testing, Setup and Extensions Development. Digging down further, the General category already sees posts ranging from "IIS Express is not launching Chrome Browser" to "Visual Studio for Linux?"

Just like in other forum sites, users can ask questions, accept valid answers, earn reputation points and earn designations like "product expert" by getting three accepted answers on a product tag over a 30-day period.

One interesting feature is getting automatic, instant answers from MSDN forums.

"Looking at suggested questions before you ask yours might help you get your answer faster if a user had a similar problem," the site's FAQ says. "When you want to ask a question, and start typing one, Microsoft Q&A now shows similar questions which have already been answered on MSDN Forums, in addition to those answered on Microsoft Q&A. This helps you save time and get to the answer immediately.

"Start typing your question title, you would see suggestions in the drop down with both Q&A and MSDN Forums hits. MSDN Forums matches have 'MSDN Forum 'prefix in the title. All matches, regardless of the source, also show the number of answers and votes to help you pick the best suggestion."

As of this writing, a user with the display name "DSPatrick" enjoys the highest reputation -- 60,186 points -- having had 805 answers accepted.

"It has been amazing to see the forums thrive over the years and we we are always looking for ways to engage deeper with the community," Montemagno said. "Microsoft Q&A brings together not only all topics on .NET into a single platform, but for all Microsoft products that developers use. Over time each of the forums will migrate fully to the Microsoft Q&A platform so we encourage you to start posting new questions on Q&A today. Look for notification on each forum for more information when the time comes for migration."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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