It is a wonder of this millennium that users who have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on state of the art technological computing wonders passively accept that if anything goes wrong with their pricy gadgets, they have little recourse but to open a support ticket on the manufacturer’s website and wait many hours or even several days to get an answer… which in some cases doesn’t even begin to resolve their problem. Some manufacturers even have the unmitigated gall to charge you through the nose for this so called service! If you have an urgent query or simply are tired of receiving boilerplate replies to your open support tickets, take the plunge into tech forums and you won’t regret it.

Tech forums are no longer only nerd fests

Tech forums are not the intimidating nerd fests that they were merely a decade ago. Many of the more popular forums openly welcome newbies and some have sections where the neophytes can ask their questions without being assailed for being know-nothings. When you have a technical question you will likely receive comprehensive answers sometimes in a matter of minutes, and you can bet that most of these answers will be more accurate and in-depth than anything you’re going to get out of a support ticket.

The 3 keys to getting answers with a minimum of friction

The keys to obtaining the information you are seeking quickly and efficiently are simple but they are ignored at your peril:

  1. Be courteous. The forum frequenters are doing you a favor by answering your query, so address them in a casual, but polite style. Don’t be lead into flame wars, so if one of the more uncouth forum regulars attacks you for whatever reason, swallow your pride, explain that whatever it was you did was done out of unfamiliarity with the forum etiquette, and apologize. You’ll find that if you take that tack, many of the other forum-ers will take your side and lambaste the flamer on your behalf.
  2. Be comprehensive. You don’t have to get a full system readout to place in your first post (but be ready to do so if you’re asked to by the forum gurus) but it is important to provide clear and complete information as to both your software and hardware configuration as well as a thorough explanation of your problem, when it occurred, exactly what happened, if it is a repeated issue, and what if any steps you have taken so far to fix it.
  3. Be patient. You may be asked a bunch of questions about your issue so realize that even though it might not be clear to you, that information is going to be required in order for the analysis of your problem to proceed to a satisfactory end. Therefore never insinuate that you’re growing fatigued with the ongoing queries and that you want an answer and you want it now. Chances are you’re going to get your answer well ahead of the one you’d be getting through a support ticket, so you’re coming out ahead.

Don’t hit and run but stick around for the long run

Once you receive your answer you’re going to be well served by adopting a policy of sticking around the forum. Even if you have limited knowledge to contribute, you can always jump onto a thread which is not quite so technically fearsome and share your wisdom and experience, even if it’s fully generic. Don’t become a nonstop blabbermouth which fills the forum with empty blather, but try to make a valuable contribution in every post. Why should you strive to stay onto the forum once your problem is solved? Because it’s inevitable that at some point in the future you’re going to be in the same position again where you’ll be requiring technical help… and you will already be integrated into the forum so others will consider you a friend and go out of their way to help you out.

Tech forums such as Tom’s Hardware or Anandtech are just a few places where you can seek out help. Try them and you’ll be hooked!