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Last week we shared How to answer questions, post comments and follow the Guiding Principles and for this week's Community News and Tips, we'd like to share a few quick tips and best practices on how to pick the right content tools to start discussions, share stories, ask questions and collaborate. 


By following the tips below you can learn: 

  • The difference between GeoNet's main content tools: Status Updates, Discussions, Questions, Documents and Blogs.  
  • How to determine which tools to use and when 


As you look into creating your own content and collaborating within the community, it is important to use the right content tool. When you use the correct content tool it will help you create better content, gain higher visibility, and receive more responses so you can accomplish your goal and solve your issue.


GeoNet provides several content tools; however, we are going to look at the most frequently used ones.  


Status Updates 


  • What it is: Status Updates tool lets you share quick updates and what’s going on right now with others in the GeoNet Community. You can add links, pictures, or @mention a person, a place, or a piece of content to increase the visibility of your update. These updates are limited to 140 characters, so you’ll want to keep these brief. Note that Status Updates are only visible from the activity stream of the place you post it because it's not one of the filter options on the content page. 
  • When to use it:  The best way to use it is when you have a short update, link or message to share with your group or the broader community. 
  • Example:  



  • What it is: The Discussions content tool is designed to allow you to have a deeper, topical conversation  where you are seeking different point of views and there is no specific solution to the issue. Discussions also have more formatting, editing and commenting capabilities that Status Updates so you can expand on your topic and have a more detailed conversation. 



  • What it is: Questions is designed to enable you to ask a question that requires a specific solution. The Questions functionality allows you and administrators to mark the correct response to the question. This puts the correct response at the top of the questions for other to find a solution faster. 
  • When to use it:  Use Questions when you are seeking a specific answer to a help solve an issue. 
    • Note: If you're trying to have an open discussion and not solve a specific issue, you should not use the Questions tool. It's best to use the Discussions tool for general conversations and feedback (see Discussions section above).
  • Example: Story Map Zoom Level   
  • For additional Questions tips, we also suggest checking out: Community News and Tips: How to ask questions and get answers



  • What it is: Documents come in two varieties:
    • 1) Collaborative native documents you write directly in the community
    • 2) uploaded files from your local machine.
    • Both are used to convey information to the community. However, the native documents within GeoNet allow multiple authors and can tack changes.  
  • When to use it:  Good examples Documents are meeting notes, how-to guides, code snippets, knowledge articles, etc. Uploaded files can be used in lieu of a collaborative document if you already have the document locally. 
  • Example: Python and ArcGIS Pro 1.3: Conde



  • What it is: Similar to Documents, Blogs are intended to convey information to the community. Blog content is normally static and does not require frequent updates. Each user within the community has their own blog in addition to certain places within the community that a blog post can be written. 
  • When to use it: Use Blogs when you are trying to share a story, opinion or thought leadership.
    • Note: If you're trying to share meeting notes, how-to guides, code snippets or knowledge articles, it's best to use Documents (see Documents section above). 
  • Example: UC Updates Day 5: Closing Session, UC and GeoNet Awards, Open Q&A  and Fun with GIS 202: Roots & Shoots  


Still not sure which one to use? Ask us! 

Learning to use the right GeoNet content tool does take practice and some tools and uses do overlap, so we encourage you to ask us for help and get additional tips in the GeoNet Resource Hub group.  


Thanks for following along and stay tuned for next week's tip! 

Last week we shared How to ask questions and get answers and for this week's Community News and Tips, we'd like to share a few quick tips and best practices on how to answer questions and post comments that are helpful, valuable and elevate the conversation


By following the tips below you can learn:

  • How to find and help answer unanswered questions. 
  • How to make sure your comments and other contributions follow the GeoNet Terms of Use and Community Guiding Principles: "Be Helpful. Be Human. Be Smart."
  • Why it's important to follow up on your comments. 


How to find unanswered questions  

Use the content page to filter open questions. This list is for all questions within the community. If you would like to see questions specific to a certain technology, browse to the place and then click on the content tab. Choose questions as the content type and then open questions from the drop down.   


If you are interested in being notified when new questions are asked, you can create a custom stream for certain tags and places. You will be notified in the community when there is a new post, and you can even set your notification preferences to send it by email.  


How to follow the GeoNet Terms of Use and Guiding Principles  

Whether you're starting or posting the first reply to a discussion, answering a question or joining an ongoing conversation, we encourage you to remember the GeoNet Terms of Use and follow these GeoNet Community Guiding Principles:  "Be Helpful. Be Human. Be Smart." 


  • Be Helpful – If you're a subject matter expert, respond to the post when someone asks a question, or help find someone who can help answer the question. Always try and elevate the conversation with a thoughtful contribution. 
    • If someone has not provided enough information to fully understand the issue, ask clarification questions and point them to the How to ask questions post so they have a good idea of the suggested information for complete questions.   
  • Be Human – Respect everyone and interact as you would in a meeting or talking face to face. Part of collaboration includes building relationships and getting to know each other, so we do encourage appropriate social sharing such as sharing relevant personal or professional experiences and interests, news about a goal you accomplished, giving a shout-out to others for a job well done, etc. Sharing these moments helps make the community more meaningful and connected. 
  • Be Smart -  Think before you post. If something makes you the slightest bit uncomfortable, figure out what needs to be changed, then fix it. Avoid posting confidential information or anything that fellow employees or customers, clients, business partners, suppliers, vendors, or other stakeholders might find offensive.


Why following up is important

Not every question or discussion is completed in just one reply, so make sure to come back to the conversation to see if there's any other questions asked or additional information you can share. And post your follow-up responses in a timely manor.   



Thanks for following along and stay tuned for next week's tip! 


For more information about how to get more out of your GeoNet Community experience, check out the GeoNet Resource Hub group. 



Did you know that 21% of GeoNet questions do not receive a reply? Why is this? One of the reasons is because many of the unanswered questions don't include the necessary details, or complete information, for subject matter experts to understand the issue and provide an answer. For this week's Community News and Tips, we'd like to share a few simple tips on how to ask and get answers to your questions. 


By following the steps below you can not only help reduce the amount of unanswered questions but also:

  • Make sure your questions are shared and posted correctly on GeoNet 
  • Help identify the best subject matter expert to answer your question.  
  • Make it easier and quicker for others who may have the same or similar question  


Step 1 – Search First  

Begin searching by typing the question, the error message, or keyword into the “Ask a question” widget on the home page. The top related questions will be returned. If you do not find what you are looking for, then you can "Search all results" or "Ask it" to create your own question.  

Step 2 – Enter a New Question 

If you do not find an answer to your question for the search results then click the "Ask It" button. This will allow you to create a new question and provide the following information: 

  1. Enter a descriptive title so that other community members can have a general idea of the question before clicking the discussion. 
  2. In the body of the discussion provide an explanation of the issue and what problem you're trying to solve.  
  3. Provide the software, version, and/or programing language being used. This is imperative for others to understand the foundation of your question or issue.  
  4. Including the following information will also help subject matter experts better answer your question:
    • Error messages
    • Screenshots of the error or issue 
    • Data types
  5. Select a place to post your question. Results from your initial search can give you a good idea of where to post your question. You can also see all of our Communities for ideas of where to post. See also: Where do I post my question?!?
  6. Add appropriate tags to help others find your question. 


Step 3 – Come back to say "thanks" and recognize others 

Once you have received an answer to your question we encourage you to come back to the community do one, or all of, these steps below. This final steps help to recognize others for their contribution, improve search results for future questions, and ultimately make the community more valuable and meaningful. 


Now that you've reviewed the steps, here's an example of how the title and description of your questions should look like. Given the nature of topic, your title and description length might vary. However, we do encourage you to keep your question content as clear, and concise as possible. 



Thanks for following along for this week's tip. Stay tuned for next week's tip as we explore how to answer questions. 

As we continue to evolve the GeoNet Community, we’re excited to introduce today a new weekly “Community News and Tips” series. This series, posted every Monday, will feature quick tips, guides and other information to help you stay connected, collaborate better and get more out of your GeoNet experience. By following this series you’ll be informed on what’s coming next in the community and learn how to ask and answer questions, collaborate with documents, submit product enhancements, create a group engagement strategy and more.


To kick off the series, we wanted to share two important updates about the GeoNet Community platform:


First, this Friday August 12, 2016 from 7:00pm to 12:00am PST, maintenance work will be done to implement new GeoNet Community platform enhancements explained below. During this time you may be unable to access the community.


Second, following the initial release of enhancements on Friday, over the coming weeks we will be rolling out and explaining these and additional enhancements. We’ll use this new weekly series to provide more detailed information about these changes explaining how they will impact and can improve your GeoNet experience.  For now, we've provided a brief note below next to those enhancements that will be updated and impact your experience after Friday's maintenance period.


  • Content Editor -The content editor used to author and edit content will be getting updated functionality with a simpler, more usable format.
  • HTML5 Updated - HTML5 replacing Flash for document preview.
  • Enhanced Place Banner - Place banners now have a condensed area for options that will provide easier access to key elements for place owners and community members.


We’re looking forward to sharing more details about these community platform enhancements. We hope you find this new "Community News and Tips" series meaningful and valuable, and we welcome your ideas for future weekly news and tips. If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please share it in the comments below.