Help at hand!

One of the most popular features of PC World has been our Here's How section. Here's How offers practical advice on aspects of using your computer, such as operating system guides, how to work with graphics and audio, and topic-based hints and tips.

Now, we've taken the question and answer concept of the Here's How section HelpScreen and moved it online into a new interactive service. Living within the PC World Web site, provides interactive help as well as a growing library of solutions to reader problems.

Using HelpScreen, you can search through this library and find your own solution, or submit a question to the site to get help from other readers and the PC World team.

Let me paint you a scenario. You've installed a new file transfer protocol (FTP) client on your computer, with the intention of connecting to an FTP site on a regular basis to download data files. But when you fire up the client, you cannot connect to the site.

No one in the office seems to know what the problem is, but you know other people are successfully connecting to FTP sites. So you turn to HelpScreen. The first step is to use the search facility. After typing in "FTP" and looking through half a dozen documents, you realise the question has not been asked before.

So, the next step is to submit the question to the site to see if other PC World readers or, indeed, the PC World editorial team can answer the question.

In order to submit a question, it is necessary to register with the site - it's free - and log in. Registration is necessary in order for us to manage your questions and provide you with updates. During registration we even ask some basic questions about your system to help us answer that FTP question. Once registered, you will also be able to log in and manage your user details and e-mail newsletter subscriptions.

Once you submit your question, a PC World moderator checks your question for clarity and categorisation (you selected the Internet category!). Once satisfied, the moderator posts your question to the site. When it's posted, the question can be viewed and searched by other visitors to the site as well as by PC World editorial staff. You are also sent an e-mail advising you that the question has been posted: the e-mail includes the URL of the question for easy reference.

When answers to your question - responses - are posted, you are also sent an e-mail with the URL of the response.

While PC World attempts to answer as many questions as possible, we do not guarantee to answer every question. Nevertheless, once on the site your question is exposed to thousands of other PC World Web site users. Naturally, we encourage you to look through the questions and see if there are any you can answer.

Questions and responses on the site are broken down into categories. These categories include Windows 9x, Linux, Office Applications and The Internet. Each week, an e-mail of URLs to the latest questions and responses is e-mailed out on an opt-in basis. This opt-in can be managed by logged-in users through the e-mail list management page. Over time, new categories will be added, most likely based on questions submitted to the 'Other' category. Alternatively, if you have a suggestion for a new category, just e-mail me.

So, hopefully, a reader out there or the PC World team will advise you of a solution to your problem or at least point you in the right direction to get your FTP client connected.

Over the coming months, we'll be tying in the online version of HelpScreen more closely with the print edition of PC World. The best questions and answers on the site - those with the most relevance to the widest group - will be included in the HelpScreen pages.

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Amanda Conroy

PC World
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