Question: Where's the best place to get expert advice and answers on the
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.
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.
Who's the expert? C-SPAN's Resident Congressional Scholar Ilona Nickels,
who has covered congress for more than 25 years.
What you'll find: A list of four current questions, like how did Republicans
pick the elephant, and Democrats the donkey, to represent their parties? Her
answers are long, well-researched and have the authority of C-SPAN behind
Who's the expert? Professors and scientists affiliated with top-notch
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.
Who's the expert? Grammar lady herself, Mary Newton Bruder, Ph.D., who has
written several books on the subject , established the Grammar Hotline for
the Coalition for the Advancement of Literacy and published columns in the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Chattanooga News Press.
What you'll find: If you're not sure whether it's okay to use "alot" as one
word, check out the Frequently Asked Questions here. She's stricter (or is
it more strict?) than your third grade English teacher, but she does promise
to return all calls.
Who's the expert? Kenneth G. Berge, M.D., a general internist in community
medicine at Mayo Clinic, who has also taught at Mayo Graduate School of
Medicine; and colleagues.
What you'll find: This is likely one of the most authoritative medical
health Q&A aites, because of its support from Mayo. You'll find answers to
health questions on everything from skin to allergies, but, as always, the
best medical advice comes from your own doctor.
Who's the expert? Art information specialists at the National Museum of
What you'll find: If you've got a beef with Georgia O'Keefe, bring it up
with one of these experts. They say they'll answer questions within 14 days
of receipt. Among those listed on the site: How do I restore my work of art?
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.