The Proper Way to Ask for Help in The Forum
(if you want any answers)

Do your own homework before asking questions.
Others that are responding to your questions ARE volunteers and take time out of their own busy lives to help answer your questions. They don’t have time to do the basic research that should already be done by you. Here are a few absolute musts.

  • Search the Web
    This is the first thing that many of the people that will try to help, will do. It is very frustrating when it immediately becomes apparent that an effort couldn’t have been made. No one wants to help the person that isn’t making any effort. This is often classified as “lazy” person.

    Google is a great place to start at . Type a few key words of your question in the search term box and you will be amazed at the number of references that are returned in a matter of seconds.

  • Search the Board
    Prepare your question. Think it through. Hasty-sounding questions get hasty answers, or none at all. Before posting, check and see if the question you're about to ask has already been asked further back in the forum archives. If it has, read those replies first, then decide whether you still need to ask the same question.

The answers you get depends very much on the way you ask. Quick and accurate answers depend on the amount of information you provide in your original post. Describe your problem you wish help with in as much detail as possible. Here’s an example of a question that will get you nowhere:

“Help! My computer won't start. I turned my computer on this morning and nothing happened, what could be wrong?”

Any response you may get, will only be asking you for the information listed below. We are not psychics. Here are the most important things that will help get you the best response:

  • Operating Systems Do Matter
    Always include the Operating System used on your computer and the program/application name and where/when the error occurs.

  • Identify Your Equipment and Software
    Identify by make, model, and version etc. of any hardware or software associated with or suspected of the problem. (not just a generic term such as "sound card")

  • Research and Diagnostic Steps Taken
    Describe the research you did to try and understand the problem before you asked the question and what diagnostic steps you took to try and figure out the problem yourself before you asked the question.

  • What’s Changed Recently
    Describe any recent changes in your computer or software configuration that may be relevant. Have you loaded new software? Installed a new sound card? Messed with your settings or registry? These should be the very first things considered when a problem begins.

  • Detail Any Errors or Error Messages
    If you are getting an error, describe it, in detail. Never just say, "I got an error" and expect us to know why. Give the complete text of the error and say when it happens. If you get a lockup, describe it. Is the screen frozen? Is it a blue screen? Are you hung and must manually reboot? These details help a lot.

Please post to the appropriate topic with a specific subject line.
Post to the topic that is most relevant to your question/problem. If you post to the wrong topic, chances are, your post will be moved or deleted. Also, some contributors will only check specific topics. Here are a few more related suggestions.

  • Stay On Topic
    Always stick to the original topic that was posted by the first person to have started the thread. If you have a suggestion or comment that is on a different topic, start a new post for a new question. Do not add on to yours or others.

  • Cross Topic Posting
    It is not necessary (and in fact it is strongly discouraged) to post in more than one location. There is a very good chance your posts will be deleted.

  • Meaningful and Specific Subject Lines
    Most all contributors will scan the subject lines for posts that they may help on. If your subject line says something like "Please help me" they probably aren’t going to waste the time to click on and view your post that could be absolutely anything.

Literacy counts!
The majority of forum veterans are helpful, friendly individuals. They are also literate. It will be in your best interest to phrase your post in proper English and punctuation should not be considered optional. Considerable leeway is given to posters that English is not their primary language, however, posts that begin with something like "can u tell me how 2…" may be ignored or answered in a less than cordial fashion.

  • Use Proper Sentences
    Take the time to phrase you sentences well. Use punctuation with a decent sentence structure. This AIN'T an English class! Everyone has occasional typos or grammar issues but too many make you look like your question isn't that important to you. It also implies that you are rushing and just putting down anything for a quick answer. A good idea is to first type your intended post into your word processor and run a spelling and grammar check, if available. Then copy and paste into the message-posting box.

Last but not least…
A few other things that are important and shouldn't be forgotten.

  • Don't Ask People to Reply By Private Email
    Your questions aren’t just to help you, but also for future reference for others. Also, those helping you, ARE interested in the outcome. Often, an unusual problem can be helpful for all.

  • Be Courteous
    Use "Please" and "Thanks in advance". Make it clear that you appreciate the time people spend helping you for free. Even if you don’t agree with a reply, this does not justify foul language or forgetting this was an attempt to help YOU! Many replies are only suggestions and you can’t expect us to go out and research our answers to help YOU with YOUR problem. If this were so, you would get NO replies.

  • Follow Up With a Brief Post On the Solution
    If you solve your problem; please make a final post telling us of your solution. This way we know that no further help is needed and this also can be used for future reference. We like to know how it came out and don’t forget to thank again, anyone that helped.

If you follow the guidelines above, you will be maximizing your chance of receiving friendly and productive help from those willing to assist you in your “Hardware Hell”.

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