I used to spend quite some time during evenings on Esri forums. It’s a great way to learn something new from other users and see what problems we may encounter when using the GIS software. Usually, it is ArcGIS Desktop bits (Cartography, Editing, Geoprocessing), but I may post a bit on some extensions threads as well as ArcGIS Server & Geodatabases. Now and then, I keep posting some of the questions I would love to discuss with other users myself (we are not so many who work with Network Analyst extension daily, for instance, so it is always fun to get to know new people at Esri and from other places). Thanks to forums, I have made some friends I stay in close touch with; we can always share passion for the technology together.
Recently, Esri has introduced some new features of the Esri forums. You can read more about them here. Basically, it is to make the forums more similar to Stack Exchange or Stack Overflow which are more like standards in “forums” world. In a word, we have got a chance to rate a post as helpful and check a post as the answer thus making it easier for others to see what questions are unanswered. Thereafter, members who post helpful replies in forum threads are awarded points. Those points are related to the new Esri Forums MVP (Most Valuable Professional) program, which has been around for some time at the previous forums, forums.esri.com, and is back now. The new Forums MVPs of the 2011 were recently introduced. By the way, you can find me among those 20 people who were chosen to be new MVPs based on their helpful activity over the past 20 months. I am really pleased to be recognized as a new MVP on Esri forums. Of course, to help out folks or just share some ideas with others is the point with forums, but it is nice to realize there are some people like me who use their spare time to contribute to the community, too. Good feeling!
Take some time to check out the new Esri forums!