Throughout our lives, we are constantly searching for solutions to our problems. We ask for advice from friends and coworkers. We seek guidance from experts and conduct research to come up with possible solutions on our own. We attend countless seminars and lectures devoted to helping us solve the challenges we face. However, the most effective form of problem solving is to ask someone who has already experienced the same dilemma and discovered a solution for it.

IT problems aren’t so different from other types of problems. Sure, they’re more technical in nature, and there is typically no single “best” solution. Also, due to the constant time pressures involved with the job, today’s IT professional needs problems resolved quickly. Still, people who have experienced a particular problem can provide the most effective—and efficient—help.

To develop that kind of peer problem-solving approach into a resource for IT pros, TechRepublic created a forum where you can pose questions to fellow members and have them respond with their solutions. Think of it as your own worldwide help desk that’s free of charge and that stays open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s called Technical Q&A, and it has played a big role in helping TechRepublic reach its million-member milestone.

The Technical Q&A center is based on the assumption that at some point, someone out there has come across the same problem you’re facing—and has discovered a solution for it. As TechRepublic member Jeff Dray put it, “It’s all about numbers. If you ask enough people a question, you are bound to find the answer. TechRepublic is the best place to ask 1,000,000 tech people a question with some kind of confidence that among those 1,000,000 souls, at least one of them is bound to have had the same experience as you. I keep in touch every day and contribute from my own pool of expertise.”

The main goal of Tech Q&A is to answer questions posed by those seeking assistance with a particular IT-related problem. With over 17,000 closed (or answered) questions, it is easy to conclude that many members have benefited from using the service. As TechRepublic member Andrew Doran noted, “Being an NT network administrator, one of my most valuable tools is the TechRepublic Tech Q&A. I’ve posted questions there before and received several answers in under 24 hours! Now that’s what I call support.”

To provide an added incentive for answering questions correctly, TechPoints are assigned to each question. If a member answers a question to the satisfaction of the inquiring member, they earn those TechPoints.

It’s simple, really
Tech Q&A is divided into categories that correspond to each republic on the Web site, with subcategories specific to that job function. Members can click on a question and then propose an answer and submit it for approval. The member who submitted the question can reject or accept the answer.

Navigation is easy and straightforward. TechRepublic member Roman Etebar had this to say about Tech Q&A’s simplicity: “I have accessed the Web site on more than a dozen occasions for help about a particular service call/request pertaining to specific network issues such as TCP/IP, etc. TechRepublic has made accessing help on any IT-related question/issue very simple and extremely handy. TechRepublic should be the very first stop on any network administrator’s schedule en route to troubleshooting any aspect of his/her network, no matter how novice or expert.”

TechRepublic’s Tech Q&A is an excellent resource for getting your questions answered. Member Joel Bowden summed it up this way: “I have been a TechRepublic member for quite some time. The best feature, in my opinion, is the Technical Q&A. Not only do I get to help others, but I also learn quite a bit from all the TechRepublic members.” So there you have it: A simple, effective tool for answering your IT questions—and a great place to help others as well. If only we had something like this in other areas of our lives!
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