Searching the Internet for Help with Tech Questions

9 years ago

New blog, new software, new gadget—what do you do when you can't get it working right or can't find the answer in the manual? Or maybe you found the answer in the manual but it just doesn't make sense. I turn to the Internet, as I'm sure many of you do. There are sites dedicated to providing tips on most topics. Here are a few good places to start looking.

Of course, you can just go to Google or Yahoo! and search for answers. But if you know there's a good site on your topic, why not start there first? If you don't find what you need, then search.

For questions about blogging with Wordpress, start by searching Lorelle on Wordpress. Her information is always good and clearly explained. BlogHer Contributing Editor Melanie Nelson has all kinds of blogging tips at her Blogging Basics 101 site. If you're using Blogger at blogspot, be sure to look there for tips. For questions about using Moveable Type, check out Learning Moveable Type where BlogHer Elise Bauer often posts great tips.

Yield to Pedestrian often has tech tips like this one about content being king. She helped judge the Weblog Awards and concluded

What did I learn from this humbling experience? That despite all the technical tweaking out there, despite all the tricks and tips of optimization and solid marketing copy, content is still king on the Internet. What you write is what sells.

Content is king. Scary. I'd rather think about technical tips. But just in case you want tips about all aspects of blogging, including writing, don't forget Blogging Tips, Daily Blog Tips and Blog Coach. If you are looking for answers about search engines and the care and feeding of your traffic, go explore High Rankings. Between the free tips, the newsletter,and the forums, High Rankings site can really help you answer those burning questions about increasing your site's traffic.

You can find general tech tips at Momelettes. This is one of the sites listed as a Technology blog at BlogHer. Have you ever wandered through the Technology Blogs registered on BlogHer? There are lots of them, and there may be one that hones in on exactly the topic you need help with. My blog, Web Teacher, has lots of tips related to web design, CSS, web standards, accessibility and tools like Dreamweaver.

There are sites that promise to answer any question. Some of them may require you to set up an account to be able to ask a question. AnswerBag is an example. This is a large and active community site for finding answers. That's a good thing: you can hope for a quick and helpful response. AnswerBag has categories for computers and electronics so if you are stymied by your camera or stereo or computer, you may be able to get some help here.

FixYa is another interesting place to look for answers. This site talks about everything from cars to Leap Pads and offers technical support for just about anything electronic. Some nice things about this site is that you can search by brand name and the quality of answers provided is rated.

If you use a Mac, the first place to start looking for help is MacFixIt. This site has been around since forever and often answers questions that are ignored in the Apple support forums. PC World has many active forums that offer help with Windows, Linux, and Mac questions.

Every product has help and support at the manufacturer's web site. Sometimes the manufacturers' sites are hard to navigate and if you do finally find your topic, the answer may be badly explained. Sites and blogs generally grow around almost every product. If the manufacturer's own site doesn't do it for you, look for sites that have taken on a particular product of interest and built a site around tips and tricks for using it. The iPhone blog for example, provides easy to understand help about iPhones that you don't always find at Apple.

I'm a visual learner, so I like looking things up and reading. Talk to me and I forget what you said almost immediately. (Please forgive me in advance if I meet you at a conference and can't remember the name you tell me when we meet. Hand me your card, OK?) Perhaps you are among the people who do much better when they hear something than when they see it. There's a web site that tells you how to get through to a real live talking human in a customer service department. That site is Get Human. Click on a topic across the top, for example, software, and you jump down the page to find out how to get through the automatic phone machines to customer service at places like Adobe, Intuit, and Microsoft. Get 2 Human provides a similar service.

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Virginia DeBolt
BlogHer Technology Contributing Editor
Web Teacher
First 50 Words

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