Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

I get a lot of questions every day. Here are some tips to increase your chances of finding the answer you need.

Why didn't you answer my question?

It's a fair question. I don't answer all the questions I get, and I also don't respond to all the comments that are posted.

It's not that I don't want to. I can't. There are simply too many questions coming in every day for me to address each and every one.

But I can give you some tips that'll help increase the odds.

Since I get so many questions, I do have to prioritize and select those questions I can answer that will also benefit the most people when I post the answer.


How to best get your question answered.

Use the site search box on the Ask Leo! home page, on the Ask Leo! Question page, or at the bottom of every article page. As I write this, there are nearly 1,100 questions and answers here, so why wait for my answer if it's already here?

Get up to date first. My answers for many problems start out with "are you fully up to date with Windows patches and drivers?" Visit Windows Update to make sure you are.

Scan for Viruses and Spyware first. Even more of my answers begin with "Perform updated scans for viruses and spyware". Check out these articles for more information: How do I keep my computer safe on the internet? and Spyware: How do I remove and avoid spyware?.

"I do questions about computers and technology."

Be clear. Sadly I don't know how to put it more clearly myself. If I can't understand your question I can't answer it.

Be complete. Provide as much information about your problem as you can. Exact error messages, if possible. (This article" Can I avoid retyping error messages when I need to report them? can help in some situations.) The version of your operating system. The version of the program(s) you're having issues with. What you were doing at the time. Anything that might be relevant. I do realize that you might not know exactly everything that's relevant, but I do need more that "it doesn't work" to go on.

And for the other side of the coin:

Reasons I might not answer your question...

It wasn't in English. Sorry, but I only read English.

It wasn't clear. I get a surprising number of questions that are, as far as I can tell, nearly unintelligible. I do my best, but if I can't figure out what you're asking or talking about, I can't answer your question. That includes avoiding most "netspeak" shorthand and "l33t" speak.

There wasn't a question. Many questions I get don't actually ask me anything, so there's no need for me to respond. "My Hotmail doesn't work" is a good example.

The question is incomplete. I need details to help you - operating system, specific error messages, what you were doing, or attempting to do, at the time of the problem you might have been having. While I'd love to, I just don't always have the time to ask you lots questions in response to your question to get at what's happening. "Why doesn't my Hotmail work?" is a classic example.

The question isn't about technology. I get a lot of geography questions, political questions, and other random things. I even get the occasional personal advice question. None of those are my area of expertise - I do questions about computers and technology.

You mistyped your email address, or you didn't provide one. This happens surprisingly often. If I can't send you email, or my email to you bounces, I have no other way of getting it to you.

The question asks me to do something questionable, or possibly even illegal. I cannot get your password back, I cannot crack your account or someone else's. I cannot hand out activation codes for anything. All such requests are simply ignored.

The question is already answered on the site. Actually I try to respond to these with a pointer to the article that answers your question, but when the load gets too heavy, this falls by the wayside also. Use the search function to find the answers that are already here - heck, it's typically what I do myself to locate the article I'd point you at.

The question asked in a comment is answered by the very article that the comment is posted on. I'll admit it - I just don't get this. There's text near the comment box that says "read the article". The button to post the comment even says "I've read the article" as a blatant hint that reading the article is a prerequisite to commenting on it. Yet I get comments posted that are clearly from people who have not, because it's answered by the article. So, I typically ignore these.

I don't know the answer, or I have nothing substantive to add to the conversation. For submitted questions, I typically do not reply if I don't know the answer. I may put the question into a queue for future research. For comments posted on an existing question, if I have nothing to add, I won't. What's great about comments is that other readers often do.

Article C1821 - January 1, 2003 »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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