Tek-Tips forums have a number of features that make the site a great place to find answers to technical questions. The best feature is the membership, which is voluntary. We are not paid for our time or answers.
It is important to remember that Tek-Tips is a discussion forum rather than a free help desk or tech support. Members are expected to contribute as well as receive answers. Some may not contribute on the same level as others. This is OK but we all need to make our own contributions to the site.
The technological features that help make this site great include the forum and thread layout, keyword search, and the FAQ areas. Anyone who has been a member for very long knows that there have been significant improvements to the site since it came into existence in 1998.
All members should learn to use keyword search. Many questions are posted that have been answered repeatedly. If members would use the search facility, they could reduce the number of threads created and find answers more quickly.
Members should also learn to use the FAQ area of the forums. FAQs provide ready answers to frequently asked questions. All members, whether looking for answers, seeking to learn or wanting to help, should become familiar with the FAQs in forums they frequent. Posting an answer when a FAQ exists doesn't serve the Tek-Tips community very well. Neglecting the FAQs increases the number of posts unnecessarily and increases the load on the system.
Members who are familiar with the site can help new members by referring them to existing FAQs and threads. To reference an existing FAQ or thread simply post the FAQ or thread number as it appears at the top of the post. Faq183-1534 will display as FAQ183-1534 and thread183-465974 will display as Thread183-465974. Click on the FAQ or thread number at the top of threads to display instructions about using this feature.
New members can benefit by becoming familiar with the features of the site. Everyone should read SQL Server FAQ183-874 - "Suggestions for Getting Quick and Appropriate Answers" or similar FAQs that have been placed in several forums.
Remember, Tek-Tips membership is voluntary and a privilege. It is important that we all do what we can to make the site a great resource for technical help. This entails learning to use the site, giving as well as taking, and expressing appreciation for help received.
This leads me to recommend the use of another site feature. Tek-Tips allows all members to "Mark this post as a helpful/expert post!" Sometimes this is referred to as awarding a star. Using this feature, when appropriate, is a nice way to recognize a member who helped. You don't even need to have been the one who asked the question. If you find a post to be helpful or expert, use the system to let the poster know.
Tek-Tips also provides a way for all members to help improve the site. Anyone can suggest new forums and improvements or report problems. Click on the Contact Us link at the top of each page.