Getting help in virtual worlds.

Caledon NCI.

Dear askers of questions,

We’d love to help you out! For the most part, we enjoy answering your questions, and we don’t ask for much for ourselves, just the typical rewards you get from helping out and teaching other people: fun, learning, and a sense of responsibility and satisfaction. However, we do also require that you show a certain amount of consideration towards us, both as teachers/helpers and as fellow human beings: respect and patience are at the top of the list here.

That’s right: amazing as this may seem to you, and whether or not you view this virtual world as a game or not, the people answering your questions are just that – real people. That means that they have feelings that can be hurt, or even boosted in a pleasant way. That means that they are fallible, and not only sometimes don’t have the answers, but *gasp* may even get answers wrong on occasion. Though this is obviously somewhat disappointing, if you want this person, or any of the people they know, to help you out on another occasion, do not bag them in public, or heinously reprimand them in private. This is a great time to show that you are understanding of other people’s inabilities. Feed back the answer once you have it, in recognition of the fact that the person did take the time to talk to you and make the attempt.

Time is precious. Once time is spent, you can’t get it back, and time spent doing one thing cannot be spent on something else. Thus, the time we spend answering your question is time that we can’t spend elsewhere. This is not to say that we begrudge you the time, rather that it is important to us that you show in some way that you appreciate what we have given to you – “thank you” is a great start, but not monopolising our time in the future and giving tips should also be considered.

One more thing: patience. We need you to have patience for several things: the time it takes us to answer questions, the time it takes you to understand the answer, and the time it takes to find someone with the answer. None of these things has a fixed time-limit, and sometimes make take a considerable amount of time to complete, depending primarily on the complexity of the question.

Regards, hoping to answer many more questions in the future,

Answerers of questions in your local virtual world.

Dear answerers of questions,

Help! Help! We’re panicking here! We need help and we need it yesterday!

By the time we get to asking you folks how to do something, we’re already at our wit’s end, and are not sure where to turn next. We’ve already run out of patience and determination, we’re frustrated and want an answer now.

Often we don’t know what the question ought to be, and we’re a bit confused about how to phrase our questions – did I mention that we were frustrated and panicking? Face it, you’re not seeing us at our best right now. On top of that, we don’t have enough background information to understand quite what is going on, or we’d be able to understand both question and answer more readily, and probably be able to answer the question ourselves.

Honestly, we don’t even like to ask questions. It’s embarrassing, tantamount to admitting that we have no idea what we’re talking about, opening ourselves up to possible ridicule. One of the reasons we want that answer so fast is that we want to duck our heads back down and stop feeling vulnerable as fast as possible.

Cheers, though we hope not to have to ask anything again,

Question-askers of the virtual worlds.

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