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Search LibrarySpot or Google |   Great Must-See sites   |   Read Articles and Lists | Find answers | Did you know?  
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Ask an Expert

Question: Where's the best place to get expert advice and answers on the Internet?

Answer: It depends on your question. These days, thousands of people claiming to be experts are doling out advice. It's important to scrutinize each source.

"If you're looking for some advice on medical issues, stocks or law, then you want someone who is in that field and knows their stuff," said Steven Gordon, founder and vice president of expert systems for Allexperts.com.

How do you examine an expert's qualifications? Ask yourself the following:

  • Do they have a degree that suits the question (Ph.D., law, culinary, etc.)?

  • Are they affiliated with a reputable organization (government agency, not-for-profit, industry leader)?

  • Have they published a book about a related issue?

  • Is it a free service?

If you're using a general "expert" site, check to see if other users have rated that person's performance. Browse his or her answers to previous questions. Gordon says someone's familiarity with a topic will shine through. If they simply say "I know all about such-and-such," it may be more cause for suspicion than an expert who is willing to expand upon his or her experience.




General Topics

  • Allexperts.com

    Who's the expert?
    Volunteers range in experience; for the more serious categories they are lawyers and doctors, for entertainment categories less strict. A 10-point user rating policy based on four characteristics (knowledge, clarity and politeness) aids in finding a trustable source.

    What you'll find:
    Gordon's site, which is now affiliated with About.com claims to be the oldest Q & A type site. It was founded in 1998. If you're looking for advice on anything from anthropology to art history, you'll find a volunteer expert here.

  • Quora

    Who's the expert?
    Connects to volunteer experts, across a wide range of knowledge. Ask any question, get real answers from people with first hand experience.

    What you'll find:
    A question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.

Specific Topics

  • Scientific American's Ask the Experts

    Who's the expert?
    Professors and scientists affiliated with top-notch research institutions. What you'll find:
    Even if you're not a physics pro, you'll be able to understand the clear explanations these experts give. Questions here run the gamut, from how jet propulsion engines work to why we sneeze.

  • Grammar Girl

    Who's the expert?
    Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, who provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle, and she has served as a senior editor and producer at a number of health and science websites.

    What you'll find:
    Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply grammar rules. Also check out her popular podcast.

  • Ask a Question at the IPL Reference Site

    Who's the expert?
    Real librarians from across the country.

    What you'll find:
    The Internet Public Library provides jumping off points for internet research. Before you post a question, check their FAQ's to find out the 100 best books of all time or where to find Cliffs Notes.




       --- M. Magnarelli

    View more articles, questions or lists.

 
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