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2020 state of the Win10 Forum part 1: half a decade of servicing, forum reputation, expressing ourselves with our posts #AdminNotice


 

Hello Win10 Forum family,

 

Once a year, I publish State of the List address/post, outlining how the forum is doing and offering a vision for the upcoming year. Normally I do this every October, but I’m doing it a bit early this year to address current happenings with our forum and Windows 10 ecosystem in general.

 

This year is quite a special year for Windows 10 ecosystem: half a decade of changes and servicing. On July 29, 2015, the first version of Windows 10 was released, marking the “proper” start of Windows as a Service. Not long after, a follow-up release (Version 1511) showed up. Just prior to that, the current iteration of Win10 Forum began on Groups.IO. You may recall me saying back then that the only constant thing in Windows 10 world is change, and Windows 10 did live up to that name as we continue to witness changes here and there (especially now that many of you are moving to Version 2004).

 

The Win10 Forum is actually even older than that – the direct predecessor of this forum was a Windows 10 and NVDA forum hosted on Freelists. It was started in October 2014 so Windows Insiders can congregate and talk about accessibility issues with Insider Preview builds. This went on for about a year until Groups.IO forum was founded in October 2015, with the two forums uniting in early 2016. For this reason, the actual birthday of this forum is October 2, 2014.

 

Comparing the state of the Win10 Forum then (2015) and now (2020) means comparing two different worlds. Back in 2015, the rules of this forum cluster (including Insiders subgroup) was quite flexible, as we didn’t know how Windows 10 will play out in the real world – we talked about feature accessibility, feedback submission guidelines, teaching strategies, and more mundane concerns as Windows 10 was just released. In 2020, we have established norms and practices such as version update notices, cumulative update changelogs, asking folks to include version information, concerns about transition from older to newer releases and such. Compared to 2015, discussion on universal apps is almost nonexistent in 2020, which reflects changing times. I’ll talk about changing times and expectations in second part of State of the Win10 Forum post in July.

 

Besides musings on current state of Windows 10 ecosystem, I would like to talk about two other important things: forum reputation and expressing ourselves in our posts. Both are important and are related: outside reputation of this forum is partly driven by forum posts, but more importantly, how we express ourselves will let outsiders know how we are operating, what we are aiming for, and how we promote this forum directly and indirectly. In turn, our reputation here and outside plays a role in what kind of membership we attract and membership behavior, including posts we see every day.

 

Many of us would say that we have a superb reputation here and outside of this forum. The fact that we are willing to discuss Windows 10 changes early and provide early screen reader usage notices makes us unique and attractive to outsiders. The fact that we have Microsoft staff with us, along with people intimately familiar with different screen readers gives us an advantage in some cases. The fact that we discuss Windows 10 and its features from the viewpoint of users of different screen readers helps us collaborate on teaching the practices and norms of this ecosystem. Some of you may say that our reputation is helped by the forum being lead by a person who knows about Windows 10 accessibility who is also compassionate – perhaps, but I don’t know many things and I can get angry at times.

 

At the same time, I have been getting reports about issues that, if not addressed, can have an impact on our reputation in the long run. On one hand, many of you have expressed feeling unwelcome due to rigid rules. There have been calls to do something about subject content mismatch, vague subject lines, and providing guidelines on exactly what kind of questions are appropriate.

 

Some would say that the above issues are due to changing times and expectations (after all, the only constant in Windows 10 world is change). But I realized that there is a deeper issue: how we express ourselves in posts, and more importantly, our attitudes. Due to time and space constraints, I would like to talk about two things: subject lines and content mismatch, a reminder that Windows 10 transition is far from over.

 

First, outside label matters, specifically subject lines. In the early days of Windows 10 ecosystem and this forum, a vague subject line such as “Windows update” was acceptable because there weren’t many Windows 10 releases and upgrade path and procedure were not as complicated as today. Another example is a bug about a Windows 10 feature with a specific screen reader or two – in the past, it was okay to not mention the version of a screen reader, as very few screen reader releases supported Windows 10 or a given feature; things have changed since then such that people would say that a specific screen reader release may or may not support such features or comes with a fix for the reported bug.

 

To a casual observer, a vague outside label may create an impression that the content inside can be anything related to the subject line. This is more so for people searching the forum archive – although search results do display message content, it may appear to be something other than what the subject (link) says. This is one of the reasons why it is important to match the subject line and content of our posts; other reasons besides finding search results easily are: help members and outsiders get a glimpse about what the post is so they can read or move on, helping you organize your post (and your mind), and improving the forum’s reputation by presenting a more professional archive. After all, the reputation of a forum depends on posts and their content, which starts with your attitude (that’s why I asked a few weeks ago to think before you post).

 

Second, we need to remind ourselves that Windows 10 transition is far from over. I ended last year’s state of the list post by reminding everyone that we will get new people coming to terms with Windows 10 – as of today, we have 646 members and more than 8300 topics. Some of the most prominent topics in recent days dealt with Windows 10 feature updates and confusion over how May 2020 Update is deployed. We did have discussions about how Windows 7 users can transition to Windows 10, and questions about moving to Chromium Edge from other browsers.

 

Provided that we do match subject lines and content, these posts are useful in knowing how much work we need to do to help people with Windows 10 ecosystem. Not only this helps people check the reality by doing searches, it also helps people reading the forum archive (which is public, by the way) understand the history of this forum, and in extension, Windows 10. As long as change keeps happening, questions about transitioning to Windows 10 will still show up – Windows 7 or 8.1 to 10, an older Windows 10 release to the newer one, and variations of these. These Windows 10 transition posts are important now in 2020, and how we respond to it with our own posts will dictate the reputation of the Win10 forum in the long term, especially if unique circumstances are addressed.

 

Some would say that what I wrote above means the head list representative does not care about repeat questions on Windows 10 feature updates. I do care – my advice for these questions is that people should read what’s already there. Only after doing so and the answer is not found (in the forum archive or web search) should one think about posting a question or comment. Doing so not only helps you learn new things, it also helps with the reputation of this forum by archiving diverse perspectives.

 

One thing I would like to remind everyone as I close the first part: we are a team. Each of us contributes something. Not only that, our teamwork helps our own reputation, but also the reputation of the Win10 Forum for Screen Reader Users here and outside. Our teamwork, as exemplified by the extensive forum archive we now possess, should serve as a testament regarding our unity, expertise, and service.

 

Never forget that our reputation rests on individual attitudes and how we express ourselves in posts. Never forget that new people are drawn to join a community based on text that’s out there and how people are welcomed. And never forget that Windows 10 is still undergoing changes and that we need to respond appropriately with willingness to assist those here, would-be members, and outsiders, especially as more people become citizens of Windows 10 ecosystem.

 

Thanks.

Cheers,

Joseph


Bill Powers
 

Joseph,

 

One thing I would like to ask in light of your post is if we could have not only helpful info for screen readers as relates to Win 10, but also screen magnifiers. I am partially sighted and use both speech and magnification, specifically I use ZoomText Fusion that incorporates JAWS for speech. When I hear that browser x or y works fine with Win 10 and JAWS or with NVDA, etc., that’s fine but not totally helpful since I must jump through the extra hoop of having all of this work with a screen magnifier. i haven’t found much help when contacting Visparo on this issue, so I just deal with the lag between the updates and when both screen reading and screen magnification might finally work until someone changes something again. If there are any places you can direct me to get more pertinent mag help, I’d really appreciate it. unfortunately, I feel like I’m orphaned in the accessibility chain because of needing the extra tech provided by magnification. it’s even worse with my Win 7 machine, but it’s days are numbered and one morning just won’t come on any more, so not worrying about it.

 

Thanks for any help.

 

BP


 

Hi,

I think the best resource would be screen magnifier support groups such as the one for ZoomText. In the past we did discuss ZT to some degree, but that sort of stopped since 2017 (I think).

Cheers,

Joseph

 

From: win10@win10.groups.io <win10@win10.groups.io> On Behalf Of Bill Powers
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2020 1:12 AM
To: win10@win10.groups.io
Subject: Re: [win10] 2020 state of the Win10 Forum part 1: half a decade of servicing, forum reputation, expressing ourselves with our posts #AdminNotice

 

Joseph,

 

One thing I would like to ask in light of your post is if we could have not only helpful info for screen readers as relates to Win 10, but also screen magnifiers. I am partially sighted and use both speech and magnification, specifically I use ZoomText Fusion that incorporates JAWS for speech. When I hear that browser x or y works fine with Win 10 and JAWS or with NVDA, etc., thats fine but not totally helpful since I must jump through the extra hoop of having all of this work with a screen magnifier. i havent found much help when contacting Visparo on this issue, so I just deal with the lag between the updates and when both screen reading and screen magnification might finally work until someone changes something again. If there are any places you can direct me to get more pertinent mag help, Id really appreciate it. unfortunately, I feel like Im orphaned in the accessibility chain because of needing the extra tech provided by magnification. its even worse with my Win 7 machine, but its days are numbered and one morning just wont come on any more, so not worrying about it.

 

Thanks for any help.

 

BP


 

On Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 04:12 AM, Bill Powers wrote:
I feel like I’m orphaned in the accessibility chain because of needing the extra tech provided by magnification
-
Bill,

           You're not orphaned, you're just in the wrong spot.  And it appears, at least on Groups.io, that there is not a ZoomText or Screen Magnification specific group, but there is a group, and a relatively small one, for Adaptive Technology.

            Groups often get created by "orphans looking to create a home."  It would be a great idea to create a dedicated screen magnification technology group if that's what you're looking for that could cover ZoomText, Fusion, or any other assistive technology that deals with screen enhancements to assist those with low vision.  And I'd be happy to help you, if needed, off-list about how to do that.

             Necessity is very often the mother of invention.
 
--

Brian - Windows 10 Pro, 64-Bit, Version 1909, Build 18363

Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.

         ~ Samuel Butler, 1835-1902