I have a technical problem with my computer, and I know there are lots of smart and get smarter people here who have lots and lots of know-how about these kinds of things, and who might be able to help me with my problem.
I was wondering if you could give me a few tips on how to write an article about my problem that will get lots of those people to look at it and give me helpful answers to my problem (and a few hits to my column)?
Signed, A Bud on the Vine.
My advice for you is, please don't.
There are many ways and many sites that you can use online to get information and even some help with problems, but some sites are better than others in that regard. And Newsvine is not generally a site designed with answering general tech support questions in mind, unless you are writing a story about the President's staff having to call 1-800-AirForceOne because somebody lost their luggage.
That is not to say you can't get good advice from some of the articles in many of the groups here; but instead, may I give you a couple of quick tips on how to find the right people and information online that might stand a better chance of answering your question?
First, since you are already familiar with some newsvine practices, why not treat your problem like you are reporting a news item anyway? That can help you point out important facts and events surrounding your problem, so you can better describe it to others. Work towards describing the problem in a single sentence if you can.
For instance: "When I drain the kitchen sink upstairs, sometimes the shower downstairs backs up with water".
Then, going to your favorite search engine, try inserting the sentence in as your query. Most search engines will ignore the common words such as "I" "the" and "up" from the search, but will have enough information from the rest of the sentence to pull up relevant links. You may find that 8 times out of 10, somebody else has written something similar to a problem that you are having. Sometimes you still may not find a direct answer on the first try, but the results you do find can often help you continue to search by finding other places to look for more information.
So I might not find somebody with a shower that backs up, but it still might lead me to advice on plumbing, and what to expect when too many roots grow in to clog the house drainage line. Or in your case, better details to help you research your particular problem, and with luck, find someone else who has an answer from experiencing the same thing themselves.
If you do find an answer, it is also good netiquette to post what you had to do to solve your problem, so somebody else in the future might benefit from a similar search.
In fact, if you have an particularly interesting quest fulfilled this way, that might in itself be worth writing a more legitimate article about. Just be careful that it is not the only type of article you write.
I hope this helps.
- CQTech (support... just this once... in a while.).