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How to Get the Most Out of Answerway

From the Answerway staff and its many friendly and helpful volunteer experts, "Welcome!"

The following guidelines offer tips on how to get the most useful responses to your questions here, and also discuss our "Rules of the Road," which are designed to keep the atmosphere constructive, courteous, and friendly. While the discussion here is not a substitute for the formal Terms of Use posted on this site, it represents the consensus of views of both the site owners and the most active experts as to how business should be conducted here. Users who consistently disregard the guidance given here will almost certainly run into problems, one way or another, and may be subject to actions that limit or ban their access to the site in more serious cases.

- Index To Answerway's User Guidelines:

Posting Etiquette

  • Expectation of Courtesy and Civility
  • What If I See Something Abusive Posted Here?
  • Avoid Blanket Posting of Questions
  • Provide Adequate Background Information in Questions
  • Asking for Help vs. Trying to Get Work Done For You
  • Anonymous Questions
  • Blocked Users
  • Avoid Posting Personal Information
  • Policy Against Advertising

    Specific Guidelines for Questions

  • Guidelines for Computer and Internet Questions
  • Guidelines for Homework, Math, or Science Questions
  • Guidelines for Religious and Political Questions
  • Guidelines for Legal and Financial Questions
  • Guidelines for Medical, Health, or Nutrition Questions

    Miscellaneous Guidelines

  • What About Humorous or Lighthearted Posts?
  • Rating of Answers
  • Posting to Question Board vs. Posting to Forum
  • How Do I Make Comments to Answerway?

    Final Words

    Posting Etiquette

    Expectation of Courtesy and Civility

    Answerway expects that all participants -- both the users who post questions, and the experts who respond to those questions -- will maintain a courteous, civil, and respectful tone at all times. Neither users nor experts are allowed to post any material that is abusive, threatening, designed to harass or intimidate, or has no apparent purpose other than to vex or inflame other participants. While Answerway recognizes that many subjects may be controversial, and that sharply conflicting views on those subjects may be held, Answerway will not tolerate "flame wars" on this site. If you have any doubt about whether a comment should be posted, chances are it should not be.

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    What If I See Something Abusive Posted Here?

    Take a deep breath and think for a moment before jumping into action. Consider these things:

    1. Make sure that you are not "reading in" something that was not intended. Careless wording, or a failed attempt at irony or humor, or even cultural language differences, may cause something to look troublesome that was never intended that way.
    2. Be especially cautious about concluding that something was intended to be abusive when the person who posts the message in question has no track record of posting anything offensive.
    3. Don't compound the problem by lobbing back return volleys on the question boards. Two wrongs do not make a right, and everybody suffers when a battle rages. Rather, suspected abuse should be reported to Answerway using the reporting link that appears throughout the site. Answerway will investigate the problem and take appropriate action, and, when appropriate, will inform the person making the report of what actions were taken.

    Thankfully, we have had very few problems of this kind so far, and we hope very much to continue to maintain a constructive and supportive atmosphere that is inviting to both users and experts. We appreciate your cooperation in this.

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    Avoid Blanket Posting of Questions

    From time to time, a user who is unsure where to post a question, or who wants to do everything possible to ensure receiving a quick answer, will decide to post the same question in a number of categories at the same time, and also send the identical question individually, as a direct question, to each of the top experts in those categories. This kind of posting is inappropriate, and it serves only to waste resources as experts are notified multiple times of the same question.

    Answerway is organized under a number of main sections, such as Government or Education, under which a large number of specific categories are set out. When you post a public question in one of the categories, the following things happen:

    • The question appears on that question board;
    • The question appears under Unanswered Questions for that section;
    • The question appears under Newly Posted Questions for that section; and
    • The question appears under Recently Asked Questions on the Answerway home page.
    • In addition, the question is automatically sent by e-mail to the experts in that category who have activated e-mail notification of new questions.

    Thus, one posting of a question on a public question board already generates notices of the question in a number of places, without any further effort by the user. Posting the same question on several question boards that are all under the same section will just cause redundant notices of that question to appear in all the places mentioned above, and will cause redundant e-mail notices to be sent to the experts who have activated e-mail notification. If, on top of that, the user sends the same question individually to the experts who are registered on the question boards where the question has been posted, those experts will receive yet another round of e-mail notifications of the question, and they will receive an "Unanswered Questions" alert each time they log on to the site until they clear the direct question by either answering it or declining it. Having to wade through all these notifications can be annoying to a busy expert.

    The best strategy for routine public questions is to select the specific question board that appears to best fit the subject matter of the question, and post it there, once. As a rule, posting a public question and then sending the same question directly to the top experts on that same question board is inappropriate.

    In cases where a question is truly multi-disciplinary, involving issues that fall under widely different fields, it may be appropriate to post the same question on two or three different question boards that fall under different sections (say, Business & Economy and Government) and have different rosters of registered experts. However, since you can only post the same question once in a 24 hour period, please use common sense in deciding whether a question legitimately requires this kind of multiple posting and choose your first category carefully. If you have not received an answer after 24 hrs please end the question and post the question in another section.

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    Provide Adequate Background Information in Questions

    Although based in the United States, Answerway is accessible throughout the world, and fields questions from a wide variety of users ranging from students to professionals in a number of different countries. If you are based in a country outside of the U.S., and particularly if your question involves the legal or educational systems of other countries, it is important to state your location in the question. Similarly, if you post a technical question, provide a reasonable amount of information about the device or process you are asking about. Experts are not mind-readers.

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    Asking for Help vs. Trying to Get Work Done For You

    The experts at Answerway are happy to provide guidance and information for people who are working on school or work assignments, or who have legal or other professional questions, but they are not here to draft contracts or prepare school assignments or do other such work on demand. It is unreasonable to expect volunteer experts to expend hours of work researching something on your behalf, or to read and summarize material that you are supposed to be reading and summarizing yourself, or to provide free professional advice or prepare professional documents to order. Please respect the fact that the experts here are volunteers, and cannot devote unlimited amounts of time and effort to responding to questions.

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    Anonymous Questions

    Answerway has wrestled with the issue of anonymous questions, and after intense examination of reasons for and against such questions, has developed policies that are designed to accommodate concerns on all sides of the anonymity issue. The philosophy that has developed can be summarized as follows:

    1. In general, anonymous questions are disfavored, particularly in subjects such as, say, how to use a computer, where there is nothing particularly confidential or embarrassing about the subject.
    2. At the same time, Answerway recognizes that certain topics of a personal nature may appropriately call for anonymity.
    3. Accordingly, Answerway has provided the option to post anonymous questions in certain designated areas.

    The areas where anonymous questions may be posted are designated by a special green link color in the category listings. In these areas, and no others, questions may be made anonymous at the user's option. Note that some experts may still decline, on principle, to respond to anonymous questions.

    If you wish your question and the expert's response to remain private, rather than being displayed on a public question board, you must ask the expert to maintain it as such. That is because when you send a direct question to an expert, that expert always has control over whether the question will remain private, or whether the question (and his or her response) will be posted on the public question board under which it has been asked. Your request should include a sufficient reason for maintaining any desired private status. Otherwise, both question and answer may be posted on a public question board by the answering expert.

    The default setting for questions in sensitive categories -- the ones marked with the special green link color, and which allow anonymous posting -- is for such questions to remain private. However, experts in those categories also have the ability to move such questions and answers into public view, so even here it is wise to state clearly that you wish the communication to remain private, and why, if that reason is not self-evident.

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    Blocked Users

    Answerway is implementing a system where experts can block a user from asking them direct questions. Users can view which experts (if any) are blocking questions from them by selecting View Blocks from their dropdown Quicklinks menu in the top left column. Since all experts here provide their answers for free they have the freedom to decide which users to block and which to help. Any user who abuses this block by harassing the expert by any method will be considered in violation of the policies of this site and will be suspended after one warning!

    Kindly respect the wishes of our Experts.

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    Avoid Posting Personal Information

    It is unnecessary, and generally unwise, to post personal information such as your e-mail address, your physical address, your telephone number, or the like, in a question. Experts will not normally respond directly by e-mail to questions posted here, even if you furnish an e-mail address in your post. Rather, Answerway itself will notify you by e-mail, using the address you have furnished while registering, when a question you post has received a response. You are required to furnish a working e-mail address to Answerway in order to participate in this site, but that e-mail address is not made public by Answerway nor shared with anyone.

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    Policy Against Advertising

    Answerway does not permit answers, or for that matter questions, that are nothing more than thinly-disguised efforts to promote multi-level marketing schemes, competitor sites or other private ventures of the people making such posts. The purpose of this non-profit site is to provide helpful information to users, not to act as a vehicle for free advertising. Posts that appear to violate this policy should be brought to Answerway's attention using the Report Abuse link appearing throughout the site.

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    Specific Guidelines for Questions

    An Overall Guideline for Every Question

    Here is the bottom line at Answerway:

    You are responsible for what you post, and you are responsible for what you do with the information provided here. Use common sense and good judgment. Do not post information about yourself or others that should not be made public. Do not blindly follow advice given here, particularly where there could be significant consequences to your health, your career, your finances, or any other aspect of your life. The information provided here may help you understand your situation better, so as to make a more informed choice in seeking professional help, but if such help is needed, it is your responsibility to get it.

    Guidelines for Computer and Internet Questions

    When asking a technical question on any of the question boards under Computing Technology or Internet/Online Technology, it is generally helpful to provide information about your computer hardware (i.e., Pentium IV 1.8 GHz), the operating system (i.e., Windows XP), and other key information. Questions about software should specify the precise version number of the software as well as what platform it is running on. Questions about internet access should specify the geographic location of the user (United States, Canada, etc.) and the method of access (dial-up, cable, DSL, etc.).

    When the question involves an error message or system crash, it is generally helpful to post the precise wording of any error messages that appear. Posts that merely state "my computer said something about a disk error" are difficult to deal with.

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    Guidelines for Homework, Math, or Science Questions

    Always specify the education level to which the question and answer pertain. An answer suitable for 7th grade may not be suitable for graduate school, and vice versa. Break problems into small chunks of no more than three questions per post; massive collections of problems may not receive prompt answers (or any answers at all). Do not submit multiple questions that merely vary numbers used in the same formula or family of formulas. Do not expect experts simply to do your homework for you. If you want someone to check your work, do the work and show it in your question, rather than expecting the expert to do it all from scratch.

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    Guidelines for Religious and Political Questions

    Religion and Politics are both categories where people often have strong opinions. This is why we have setup forums in these areas where experts may start discussion topics.

    There are however, legitimate reasons for posting questions here. For example if someone wanted to know the difference between two branches of a religion, or the head of a particular branch, etc.

    Most issues in these areas are going to produce different views from different experts since these are subjective categories.

    Please keep this in mind when posting questions to these boards. Posts that do not follow these guidelines will be considered abuse of our terms and will eventually be deleted. Continual abuse will result in suspension.

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    Guidelines for Legal and Financial Questions

    Users must use common sense in posting questions that involve legal, financial, or ethical matters. Users must understand that even when, for example, a legal question receives a response from one of the lawyers who has registered as an expert on this site, no attorney-client relationship is established and the response is for information only. The same is true with tax, financial, or investment questions that may receive a response from an accountant or other financial or investment professional. Depending on the nature and seriousness of a legal problem, legal advice from a qualified lawyer admitted to practice in your jurisdiction may be appropriate, and in many situations prompt action is needed to preserve important legal rights. The same things tend to be true in the case of financial or investment matters. In addition, information posted on this site is not confidential, and posting certain kinds of information here might prejudice legal rights, or affect present or future employment, or otherwise come back to haunt the user. Again, common sense and discretion must be used in connection with posting here. Finally, users must understand that not all experts answering such questions may have the legal or financial training or other applicable experience to give sound advice; that it is really not possible on a site like this for an expert to have all the information that may be needed to fully understand a particular situation; and that even the most experienced professionals may disagree on the analysis of, or courses of action most indicated in, a particular situation. This site is not a substitute for competent professional advice.

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    Guidelines for Medical, Health, or Nutrition Questions

    No internet site -- even one that specializes in medical or health matters (which this site does not) -- can take the place of face-to-face professional help for medical, health, or nutrition problems. Users should exercise both caution and common sense in evaluating any information posted here, and in particular should seek prompt medical attention for health or physical problems. There can be no assurance that information posted on this site represents sound medical advice, and serious consequences could ensue if a health condition is ignored, misdiagnosed, or mistreated. No doctor-patient relationship is created by any posting here.

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    Miscellaneous Guidelines

    What About Humorous or Lighthearted Posts?

    As long as you use some judgment, there is certainly nothing wrong with posting humorous or lighthearted material from time to time. Keep in mind that cold type on a computer screen may not convey the implied wink in your eye; make sure it is clear that you are being tongue-in-cheek, perhaps by using a smiley. :-) And be careful not to crowd out legitimate items by overdoing the silly stuff. Rating of Answers

    As a matter of courtesy, users should rate all answers they receive at Answerway. This allows experts to know that the user has, in fact, read the answer that the expert spent time preparing. More important, the ratings received, together with comments given, help experts to improve the quality of their work here.

    An explanation of some sort is particularly appropriate for any low rating (such as one or two stars). It is not appropriate to "shoot the messenger" by giving a low rating to a response that you disagree with, or which delivers news that you would prefer not to hear, if it is apparent that the expert has invested time in considering your question and preparing a thoughtful response and the response seems in good faith to address the subject matter of your question. You may note your disagreement in the rating comment, of course, but the number of stars given should reflect an honest assessment of such things as whether the expert appears to have read and understood the question, whether the answer is clear and understandable, and whether the answer fairly addresses your question, rather than whether you like or dislike what you are told.

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    It is also courteous to give the expert a chance to improve a response that does not seem to provide what you asked for. In many cases, the expert may not have properly understood what you were asking, or may require more information than was originally provided. Before resorting to a low rating, and especially if you truly want a useful answer to your question, consider first responding with a clarification (using the button provided for that purpose) that points out where the answer seems to be missing the mark, or supplies information that the expert asks for or seems to have misunderstood. Users who are courteous to experts will generally receive better service; that's only human nature.

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    Posting to Question Board vs. Posting to Forum

    Answerway has established Category Forums associated with the various question board topics on which extended discussions about topics can take place. The forums are more suited to discussions of such things as current events, technical trends, and social issues than are the question boards, which are designed primarily to deal with specific questions rather than ongoing discussions.

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    How Do I Make Comments to Answerway?

    Answerway provides a variety of mechanisms through which you can ask questions about the site or bring suggestions or problems to the attention of Answerway. Abuse or misbehavior can be reported using the "Report Abuse" links that appear on most pages. Technical questions and suggestions can be sent by e-mail to; feedback can also be submitted on this page.

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    Final Words

    Thank you for taking time to read these guidelines, and for helping to make Answerway a great place for people to get answers to their questions. We would appreciate hearing from you with any comments about how these guidelines can be improved, or about your experiences on the site in general. We do listen!

    - The Answerway Team


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