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Shout Out To My Heros: Help Boards

Today, I’d like to do a shout out to the unsung heros, help boards. Most of the time, these over-worked administrators and moderators only hear the rants and ravings of an unhappy poster. But, you can bet if you’ve got a problem that you need solved, there’s a help board with the resources you need to solve it.  I want to say thank you! You’ve saved my butt on numerous occasions.

Like the time I needed to hook up a Plasma TV to a LCD 15 minutes before a speaker was to go on–Thank you High Def Forum!

Or the time an app was preventing my computer from booting–Thank you Mac Community Forums

Or the time a software update crashed my site-thank you Stack Ideas forum. and Red Component Forum.

Sure, there are some boards I’d rather not visit at all for various reasons: too hard to search; bad attitudes; flamers; or its just not a topic I’m interested in, but most of the time I came to that forum searching for the answer for a very specific problem or area of interest.
When you are looking for assistance on a forum, its best to narrow down the forum to the exact product or question rather than go to a general topic forum. It’s a real time saver because you’re all speaking the same language so to speak. If you don’t understand the conversations, then be honest and confess that you’re a newbie and need the instructions as simple as possible. 
Some of the best forums out there are forums supporting open-source software. Open-source makes it’s code available to everyone and so their support forums, because of its very nature,  creates the free exchange of ideas. One of my favorites is the Joomla Community Forum because there are many helpful, knowledgeable people.
The key to a good forum, I’ve found, is the tone of the community and the knowledge of its users. The key to getting answers to your questions is to know the guidelines of the forum you’re posting which can usually be found at the top or bottom of the front page of the forum. Check it out before your first post. 
The second way to get your question answered quickly is including all the specifics around the item that is in question. For instance, if you’re asking about a TV connection problem: give the product number, and the exact name of the unit you’re trying to connect it to. Try not to voice your frustration too much or be too sarcastic. We all know you paid good money for what ever it is, so there’s no need to re-state it. You can never say too much about what the product is because the more information they have, the better your chance of getting an answer.
Also, if you run across a forum post where you know the answer, it’ll increase your Karma by sharing your knowledge. If you kinda, maybe, somehow have a hunch you have the answer, hold back posting until you can be more sure. There’s nothing more frustrating than following bad advice.
And, the next time someone helps you in a forum, please respond to their good deed. Let them know that it solved the problem for you. That way they can mark the problem solved and others with similar problems can also benefit from the answer to your question.
Finally, remember to thank them.
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