The Ins and Outs of the Help Chat
If you're on the Neoboards regularly, you've probably noticed the Help Chat board and may have occasionally asked a question or two and hopefully received a swift, accurate answer. But do you actually know what happens on a daily basis in the strange and confusing land of the HC?
Every day, hundreds of topics are posted on the Help board. They can range from simple FAQs that can be answered in a post or two to ethical debates and HTML-intensive coding repair jobs. A few more examples of what you can see on the Help Chat every day are plot questions, site ads, bugs and issues, and just fun randomness.
So, with such a wide range of topics and a lightning-fast pace, how are you ever supposed to get your own question answered, or even help someone else? I have compiled a few tips from both my own knowledge and hints I have received from other users.
Before we begin, you should learn some of the common fancy acronyms that HCers use. (See, I just used one!)
AA: Abandoned Attic or Avatar Alert
FQ: Faerie Quest
FFQ: Fountain Faerie Quest
HC: Help Chat... I really hope you knew that one.
HCer: A person who frequently visits the Help Chat
RE: Random Event, such as finding a lab map piece
RS(ed): Restock(ed) and item
SOTM: A site competition where users vote
As you can see, most of the words are pretty common. However, there are a few fanciful words that are used to describe users.
Newbie: A new user who doesn't know much about the site yet
n00b: A person who is being unnecessarily rude, spamming, or begging for items and/or pets
Troll: A user who spams the boards looking for attention
As a general rule, you really don't want to be considered a n00b or troll at all. Those users are disliked among the HC community, and earn a bad reputation.
Now that you are well-versed in your vocabulary, hopefully you're thinking that you might want to try asking a question. Well, good for you! The Help Chat is probably the fastest and most accurate way to get your question answered! Here's a few tips:
1. Make your question the title. If you put a non-descriptive title, or just Question, people are more likely to skip over your topic and not waste their time. If you put your question as your title, then people who can help will be aware of your need, and therefore be more likely to answer.
2. Don't overuse smilies or caps. A TOPIC LIKE THIS or with tons of unnecessary smilies makes people not want to look at your question, plain and simple.
3. Don't post a lazy question. This includes posting topics about things that you could go look up for yourself, like links or names. Just go out and do it!
4. Bump your board only when necessary. When users browse the HC looking for questions to answer, after looking at the title, we look at the post count. Often, we take this as an indicator to if the question has been answered. For example, if I see a topic called "Any Cheap Books?" but there are already eight posts, I am going to think that lots of people have already posted book suggestions.
5. Always be thankful and kind. This rule is the most important! A lot of the users I have talked to say that the reason that they don't like the HC is the number of ungrateful users. So, after your question is answered, remember to thank the person who answered your question. It is going to brighten someone's day to know that they helped you!
If you have mastered the art of asking questions, why not start helping others? Answering other users' questions can be satisfying and make you feel pretty smart. Before you become a human Neopedia and start spewing facts all over the place, here are a few things to remember:
1. If you are going to answer a question, you need to know the answer! This may seem simple and obvious, but I cannot tell you how many answers people get sometimes where the user who answers obviously knows nothing.
2. Always be kind! You should never make someone feel bad for asking a question. If they knew the answer, they obviously wouldn't be asking!
3. It is against the rules to ask for anything in return. Answering questions should come from your desire to help others, not greed. You can never ask for anything in return.
4. Watch the Number of Posts. If a question has five or six, then it has probably already been answered and there is no reason to waste your time.
5. Have fun and enjoy yourself! Most HCers do what they do because they honestly enjoy it. The HC is a wonderful environment to meet new Neofriends, fellow site owners, and people that really need your help.
Aside from the question and answer boards that fill up most of the HC's space, there are a few other types of boards.
Faerie Quest: This board, aside from the Q/As, is probably the most popular. These users are on faerie quests and need your help to use the Shop Wizard.
Bugs and Glitches: Whenever a glitch happens in Neopia, the first place it appears is the HC! These boards are good to watch for new developments, fixes, and just good info.
Site Advertisements: Many Neopets users run sites on their petpages offering premades or services. They create ads on the HC to try to attract attention for their site. Feel free to check out their sites, especially if you run one yourself!
Polls: Sometimes, for a new article or site, a user will want to know what other users think. For example, to help with this article, I posted two polls and incorporated the answers! Remember to always be kind and give honest, but not mean, opinions.
Troll and n00b Boards: Since we already learned what trolls and n00bs are, it's probably pretty easy to guess what these boards are all about. These users often post topics with titles such as "OMG!!! I GOT A RE!!!" "Help PLEEZ!!!! I CANT DO -insert task here-" "bUy FrOm My ShOp PLeASEee!" It is best just to avoid these and let them die down.
Usually, you will figure out that you really like, say, helping with Quests, or answering coding questions. Then, it becomes easy to find your niche and before you know it, you're on your way to becoming a bona fide HCer!
Whether you do become an HC regular, or only venture onto the Help Chat only occasionally to get a question answered, I hope I taught you a few new things and maybe, just maybe, the Help Chat will become your new favorite board!