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Microsoft Answers to rework look, reputation tools

Microsoft is giving its Answers tech support site an overhaul both in looks, and in terms of the system it has in place to rate the efforts of participating users.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
Microsoft Answers logo

Microsoft this weekend plans to roll out a redesign of its Answers site, which gives users a place to seek unofficial tech support on Microsoft products and services.

As part of the redesign, Microsoft says it's now easier to find answers through both an improved search tool and a new layout that puts its various product directories in a clearer order.

Along with the new look, Microsoft is also overhauling the site's reputation system, which is how its members are rewarded for answering other users' questions. The new one awards authoring answers, as well as marking other people's answers as helpful. Microsoft says the existing user reputation system, which had made use of points that went towards an aggregate rating (in the form of medals), will be no more.

Even though that point and medal system is going away, other existing ratings information about the posts is not, according to a Microsoft representative with whom CNET spoke. "To ensure a smooth transition, we will be migrating existing users and the existing information about their posts (those marked as answered and helpful posts) to the new reputation system so that users who have provided helpful posts in the past will already have some reputation in the new system," the representative said.

In other words, some longtime users with a high rating may be chagrined to find their insignia gone, but their answers will continue to get highlighted on pages, and their profiles will reflect that information.

A shot of the Microsoft Answers redesign, which will take place this weekend.
A shot of the Microsoft Answers redesign, which will take place this weekend. Microsoft