Got a Tech Question? Help Us Help You: Q&A Guidelines

Dennis Faas's picture

Over my many years as an IT professional, I have worn many 'hats'. Programmer/Developer, Operator, Administrator, and Quality Assurance, to name a few. I have also spent a great deal of time working a Help Desk, which can be a tough task to handle.

Now days, I spend my day trying to help you, the Infopackets readers, with problems through the contact page.

However, one of the things that slow us down in helping you solve those niggling quirks and kinks is the lack of information. I often find I am asking questions that shouldn't be necessary, because I don't receive enough information about the problem.

Therefore, I want to suggest to you the following guide lines to help us serve you better. It's nothing all that difficult to do, but critical for us to get the answers you need.

  1. We need to know what type of system you are using. Give us the name of the manufacturer, such as HP/Compaq, or Dell, and the model name or number, such as Desk Pro or 5410US. With that we can determine the standard configuration of your machine.
  2. What operating system are you using? Windows 2000 Pro, XP SP2 Home or Pro, or even Vista. If you are using Linux, let us know, we can help you with most things. Mac OS X? We can help there too.
  3. If a software package is giving you fits, add that to the information along with the version number.
  4. Make sure you fully describe the problem. Phrases like "It won't work!" don't help us figure out what is going on. Tell us what isn't working and what you do to get it to fail. Don't worry, neither Dennis nor I will complain about a long message from you if it describes your problem as fully as possible.

We may still need to ask you a question or two, but with the information you give us, we can narrow down the list of possible causes rather quickly and can get you running. After all, that is the main reason we buy computers, isn't it?

We may not have the right answer for you every time, but we do come close. The more information you can give us, the better our answers will be, so help us help you!

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