5 Tips For Getting Your Tech Questions Answered

It happens to all of us. Yes, even me! Our tech breaks down and we need help. But sometimes help is hard (and uncomfortable!) to get. Here are 5 tips, reblogged from The Chronicle’s Profhacker blog, one of my favorite Instructional Technologies resources. These are geared towards asking for help on Twitter, but replace “Tweet” with “email” and it still applies. Since I worked tech support for a software company before coming to NOVA, I’ve been on both sides of the fence and these tips will make your support person (including me) LOVE you!

  1. Be as specific as possible: What, exactly, is the problem you’re experiencing? If you’re creating a web page and you have a validation problem, which document is the one giving you trouble? Share the link to the document, if possible. If it’s a software problem, what is the error message you’re getting? What operating system are you using?
  2. Avoid ambiguous use of “it”: Don’t Tweet something like “It keeps saying my header isn’t valid!” or “It won’t let me send the email!” We can’t help you because we don’t know what “it” is. The browser? Your text editor? The W3C Validator? Your desktop email client? A web-based email system? (See 1. above: “Be specific.”)
  3. Include a link: If a particular page or file is giving you trouble, share a link to that page or file so we can look at it, too. Otherwise, we’re just guessing about what your problem might be.
  4. Use a link shortener: You don’t want your link eating up the 140 characters in your Tweet, so use a service like Google URL shortener. (In my experience, the built-in Twitter link shortener is inconsistent, but your mileage may vary.) If you don’t like Google’s there are several other shorteners to choose from. (Okay, this one isn’t THAT relevant, but check out link shortening anyway; it’s pretty handy. -CB)
  5. Include a picture: If you are getting an error message of some kind, or if your web page looks funny, or if you’re not sure what kind of port you’re looking at, including a screen capture or a picture along with your Tweeted question will allow others to see what you’re talking about.  (PLEASE do this! It’s super easy to do, especially in Office 2010. If you want to see how to include a picture, let me know and I’ll teach you! -CB)

As for me personally, I’m much better at doing tech support face to face, with a computer (preferably the computer that is acting up) in front of me. So never think that you’re inconveniencing me if I tell you I need to come visit you in person. I’m happy to do office calls!