November 10, 2009

Windows Communities

Windows Communities

Windows Communities are newsgroups in which other users hang out, ask questions, and answer questions. Nobody gets paid to work on newsgroups. It’s all done voluntarily. So there’s no charge to access the newsgroups.

Newsgroups aren’t an immediate gratification type of help. There isn’t anyone there waiting for your questions and standing ready to answer on the spot. It’s more like group e-mail: People post messages, and other people reply as convenient. This is another resource you can add to your list of resources for information. To get to the newsgroups, first make sure that your computer is online. Then click the Ask button in
Help and Support and click Windows Communities. Your Web browser opens to the home page for the communities. I can’t say exactly how it will look because it’s a Web page, and Web pages change all the time. But you should see a Search For box and some basic instructions.

It’s important to understand that when you type something in the Search For box, you’re not sending your question to an expert to read and answer. There is no live person on the other end to read and respond to your question. Instead, what you get is a list of all the previous newsgroup posts that contain the word or phrase for which you searched. The idea is to scroll through all the messages to see whether one looks as though it might help. Then click its message header (the text in bold) to expand the thread. A thread consists of the original message and all the replies to that message. To read any message in the thread, click its header in the left pane. The message text appears in the right pane.

To post your own question to a group, you need to set up an account. Don’t worry; you don’t have to give up any personal information. Nor will there ever be a charge. You need to set up the account only once, not every time you use the newsgroups. Posting a question starts with clicking Ask a Question. If you haven’t set up an account yet, you’ll be given the opportunity to do so on the next page that opens. Otherwise, if you already have set up an account, you can sign in by entering your username and password. After you do so, you’ll be able to
create a new post. When you’ve set up an account, you might find it easier to use a newsgroup client rather than your Web browser to access the newsgroups. You can use Windows Live Mail as that newsgroup client (even if you don’t use Windows Live Mail for e-mail).

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