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Where can I get good Answers to Tech questions?

By delmoi in Internet
Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 11:06:18 PM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

I've been reading sites like slashdot and k5 for a while, and I'm always tempted to ask tech support questions. But, I doubt an "ask slashdot" would get posted, and I don't think k5 is really the place to start mindlessly asking questions. But where can I?

It seems like experienced users wouldn't get much of a benefit from reading sites devoted to helping newbies, so I doubt that they would go to sites devoted to helping people out. Have any of you out there found luck getting help from certain sites? Or certain newsgroups? I think an ideal place would be one with both technical discussion (to keep people who know what there talking about talking) and question/answer discussion.


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I can't think of a good poll, hrm... ~o__O
o Slashdot 1%
o K5 11%
o Windows 3%
o Mac OS 5%
o The Florida election process 15%
o Ralph Nader 21%
o Ayn Rand 18%
o Inoshiro 21%

Votes: 119
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Where can I get good Answers to Tech questions? | 32 comments (20 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
IRC (3.00 / 7) (#1)
by tympanic on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 12:20:27 PM EST

Try jumping into #kuro5hin or #slashdot and asking questions. We/they are always willing to answer even stupid questions. :-)

"I've noticed success tends to mean making sure people's expectations are low and then exceeding them" -David Simpson

Millions of places (2.62 / 8) (#2)
by Defect on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 12:29:59 PM EST

and I don’t think k5 is really the place to start mindlessly asking questions. But where can I?

oh the irony

What kind of questions are you looking to ask? Certain things are better asked in certain places. IRC is good for troubleshooting type problems because of the real time forum. Bulletin Boards are good if you don't need info right away because it usually reaches more people the longer it sits. If you're a coder you might be better off being directed to sites where you can check out some sample code.

You're inquiry reminds me of someone coming up to me asking "How do i fix my computer?" A real question that would be nice to have an answer-all response to, but relative to specific details the best answers will vary.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
#irc is good, mailing lists too (3.40 / 5) (#4)
by ramses0 on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 12:49:07 PM EST

The important thing to do is *lurk* ... read the archives for mailing lists and make sure it hasn't been covered. Be very careful about hopping into an IRC channel and asking stupid questions. Much better to read other people's conversations for a while and start making small-talk. Then bring in your heavy hitter, like "How do I configure an IDE CDR under Linux?" :^)=

P.S. If anybody *does* have any advice on setting up an HP 6x4x2 (or something, I don't have the model number with me), feel free to make my day :^)=

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

LDP (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by swc on Thu Nov 23, 2000 at 12:37:28 AM EST

You probably can get it working by reading the CD Burning HOWTO By Winfried Trümper.

[ Parent ]
Extremely Simple Answer: USENET (4.06 / 15) (#6)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 12:54:17 PM EST

It seems like experienced users wouldn’t get much of a benefit from reading sites devoted to helping newbies, so I doubt that they would go to sites devoted to helping people out.

The internet isn't just the Web. USENET (or to the Net newbies the forums accessible from Deja) is still quite strong and a great resouce for getting questions answered. Here are my recent tech support experiences
    I had a question about port forwarding, specifically how can I use one of the machines in my LAN as a web server while using another for all other direct connections to the 'Net. I got good answers in a few minutes.
    I had a question about why dynamic_cast and other RTTI functions weren't working in Visual C++ and I was promptly told to the location of the checkbox to click to enable Run Time Type Identification

The internet is a whole lot more than websites and frankly I am yet to find any resource for getting questions answered as useful as USENET, ask.com and the like pale in comparison.

PS: I voted -1 on this article because it inspires no discussion.

Check the FAQs (4.33 / 6) (#13)
by sugarman on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 01:30:02 PM EST

While I do agree that USENET can be a great resource, you can often get a "RTFM" or "Check the FAQ" in response. However, some of the more technically oriented NG's do maintian decent FAQs, and these can often be a good place to browse thourhg first. Chances are, if you're a newbie, someone else was too, and asked the same question.

Check out Landfield for a good archive of USENET FAQs, or do a Google search for a specific group.
[ Parent ]

mit rtfm (2.50 / 2) (#31)
by bort13 on Fri Nov 24, 2000 at 04:02:35 PM EST

quick link here.

it's ftp rtfm.mit.edu in the /pub/usenet/<ng> directory.

Most faqs are posted there. Check the alt.answers and the news.answers heirarchy, too.

HTH, $.02

[ Parent ]

QuestionExchange (3.30 / 13) (#7)
by Volta on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 12:57:39 PM EST

I've heard Good Things(tm) about QuestionExchange for this sort of thing.

Broad (3.00 / 11) (#8)
by atom on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 01:01:20 PM EST

That's an awfully broad question. "Where can I get answers to questions?" Um... well, the dalai lama could probably answer some, maybe Einstein would know some of the others - too bad he's dead, maybe the pope could handle some of the others.

To your credit, you used the modifier "Tech" but it's still very broad. You'd get answers to Linux questions at slashdot. If you have questions not related to Linux, don't go to slashdot. The Internet has a couple zillion webpages that almost all have answers to some questions, many of which would qualify as "tech." Probably your best bet is to find a website devoted relatively specifically to your question.

Or you could try ask.com, they'll be sure to answer a question for you - not, of course, the question you ask, but definitely some question.
dotcomma.org - Resource for programmers
Google (3.60 / 10) (#9)
by acidos on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 01:01:50 PM EST

If I can't figure out how to do something I usually search on Google for it, like "ISO Images and Gnome Toaster". You can usually find a thread on some site discussing the topic. You may also find some other sites, like DebianPlanet or DebianHelp which are geared to this sort of thing.

Getting tech support (3.63 / 11) (#10)
by Perpetual Newbie on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 01:03:19 PM EST

I usually start off on Google, looking for a FAQ or a match for a description of the problem. Failing that, I pop onto IRC and see if there's a channel with the same name as the product I'm fiddling with. Try several IRC networks, Undernet, EFNet, Dalnet, Openprojects.net, others. Other ways to get help are to ask some friends IRL who might know. Read a book if you have one(you should probably do this first). I don't know of any good Usenet archives, but years ago dejanews used to be very useful for finding tips.

My personal opinion is that Ask Slashdot is better suited for more general questions and definately not newbie stuff although a specific, advanced question often gets a good reception.

Oh God... (2.27 / 11) (#11)
by loprox on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 01:04:58 PM EST

After reading the comments posted here I felt like puking... I have had access to the Internet since 1995 and it seems that every year, there are fewer and fewer places to discuss with knowledgeable people about information technology... Take IRC for example... 3/4 of the people are either idling or know nothing. The rest will not bother to help you... For example, I go into a channel for help concerning my router... I was told to buy a better router. Completely and utterly useless response. Of course I was not expecting step by step help... just not an arrogant response. The same thing happens here... people have egos to maintain. Yeah, its pretty much all bullshit but people here seem to think they are superior to everyone. My advice is look in the newspaper and pay someone to give you tech support, that way if he is being an asshole then you can just tell him to fuck off.
You mean... meatloaf is made with... MEAT?
Sad, but still a bit true. (4.33 / 3) (#29)
by Pimp Ninja on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 08:11:25 PM EST

i've observed the same unfortunate effect, but i've never associated it with ego. Speaking for myself, there are few things that kick my ego higher than helping someone fix a seemingly intractable problem - That's why i like to help all my friends with tech stuff. No, i don't think ego is the reason... But i'd sure like to know what it is.


If we demand from them without offering in return, what are we but better-
dressed muggers holding up the creative at the point of a metaphorical gun?

[ Parent ]
Arstechnica (3.00 / 8) (#12)
by Vlad The Impaler on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 01:20:27 PM EST

http://www.arstechnica.com/ has a forum, you can ask questions there, and generally they are pretty nice to newbies, as long as you search the forum first, the do get a little picky about that :-).
Vlad The Impaler
please and thank-yous (3.75 / 8) (#15)
by johnzo on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 01:56:52 PM EST

I usually don't have to post questions on UseNET -- generally, I can find an answer to any question I have in some place, be it an online mailing list archive (the SVLUG one has been a goldmine) or UseNET or www.linuxdoc.org or MSDN or wherever.

Also, whenever I find helpful information with a clear attribution, I email whoever posted it with thanks for their help. I mean, if you look at massive documents like the Linux Networking FAQ, there's a heck of a lot of work there, and I suspect that the folks responsible for it like to receive personal recognition.

I voted no on the story, though -- I think the discussion thus far has been adequate.

Ask Fortune (2.62 / 8) (#17)
by pb on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 02:02:22 PM EST

Q: How can I choose what groups to post in?  ...
Q: How about an example?

A: Ok.  Let's say you want to report that Gretzky has been traded from the
Oilers to the Kings.  Now right away you might think rec.sport.hockey
would be enough.  WRONG.  Many more people might be interested.  This is a
big trade!  Since it's a NEWS article, it belongs in the news.* hierarchy
as well.  If you are a news admin, or there is one on your machine, try
news.admin.  If not, use news.misc.

The Oilers are probably interested in geology, so try sci.physics.  He is
a big star, so post to sci.astro, and sci.space because they are also
interested in stars.  Next, his name is Polish sounding.  So post to
soc.culture.polish.  But that group doesn't exist, so cross-post to
news.groups suggesting it should be created.  With this many groups of
interest, your article will be quite bizarre, so post to talk.bizarre as
well.  (And post to comp.std.mumps, since they hardly get any articles
there, and a "comp" group will propagate your article further.)

You may also find it is more fun to post the article once in each group.
If you list all the newsgroups in the same article, some newsreaders will
only show the the article to the reader once!  Don't tolerate this.
-- Brad Templeton, _Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette_

"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
Help sites (3.50 / 4) (#23)
by Delirium on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 03:50:20 PM EST

Sites like Experts Exchange are helpful in my experience. The forums at Ars Technica are pretty good places to get help too. These work nicely for general questions or hardware-type questions. If you have a question on a specific piece of software or features of a certain programming language or something of that nature, mailing lists and USENET are often useful, and IRC channels to a lesser extent. There's also more specific web sites for help on many topics - for example Perl Monks is a good place to ask your Perl questions. Look around a bit, perhaps browse Yahoo for some listings.

My preferred order of looking for answers (4.20 / 5) (#24)
by hariya on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 04:04:39 PM EST

1. Use a general search engine. Google is probably the best option. Add keywords "howto" or "FAQ" to get better results.

2. Search the usenet archives. Deja used to archive posted articles, I am not sure they do anymore.

3. I would suggest posting to USENET but the spam I started getting pissed me off so now I ask on #kuro5hin. Someone always knows the answer or at least where to find it.

Mailing lists (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by sbeitzel on Wed Nov 22, 2000 at 07:14:48 PM EST

Try the mailing list associated with your particular issue. For instance, freebsd-questions@freebsd.org for FreeBSD questions; modperl@apache.org for your mod_perl curiosity; php-general@lists.php.net for PHP questions...you get the idea.

And not only do people have these mailing lists, but lists are usually archived and searchable, so you don't even have to ask half of your questions -- somebody else already did.

Best of all, the evil spam archvillains are still busy sucking email addresses out of usenet and haven't gotten around to slurping them from the mailing lists yet.

What about Ask communities? (2.00 / 1) (#32)
by lonesmurf on Sun Nov 26, 2000 at 06:49:25 AM EST

Disclaimer: I work for WHquestion, a community that you can ask anything, so I may be biased.

What about communities that you can ask absolutely anything in? Like, WHquestion, Ask Me, Abuzz, etc. You can enter a free text question and it is sent to the relevant users all over the world.

Also: If the question is relevant (more or less) to the article, why not just post there? I'm sure that there are countless users out there that are more than willing to answer your question.. even if it's a very basic one.


I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.

Where can I get good Answers to Tech questions? | 32 comments (20 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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