As part of TechRepublic's 2011 upgrade, we made some changes to our Q&A forum. Watch the video: "TechRepublic FAQ video: Q&A."
First of all, the Q&A and Discussions forums are distinct and separate from one another. We know that this won't stop some people from overlapping the two — that is, posting a question in the Discussions area or posting a discussion in the Q&A — but we now have a prompt that comes up in the Q&A when you enter a title that isn't in the form of a question. Not only does it let you know that, but it also provides a link to the Discussion area if you determine that your post isn't truly a question.
If you really do have a legitimate question, then reword it as such — and right below your question title, you'll see a list of existing questions pop up. This way, if the question has already been answered, you can just click through and see if there's already a solution to your problem. We hope that this will help reduce the number of duplicate questions in TechRepublic's Q&A.
Another new Q&A feature that we'd like to highlight is the ability to ask for clarification. Certainly, if you know the answer right off the bat, click Answer the Question — but if you need more information, don't click Answer the Question to ask "What operating system are you using?" or "What were you doing and what steps did you take before the problem occurred?"
I know this may take some getting used to, because we didn't have it before, but please use the Ask for Clarification link, which will place your request for clarification directly below the original question.
And as I explained in a previous video, please take advantage of the voting system in the Q&A. This will help make the good answers more visible — and hide the answers that aren't so good.
If you have feedback about TechRepublic's Q&A, please post them in the discussion thread for this post.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.