Live Online Help Resources
The Internet provides a wealth of resources to find information, but sometimes you need a little one-on-one assistance for a specific question. Launched in November, Google Helpouts joins a host of online resources, including Just Answer, and eHow Now, that connect people who have questions to experts in a multitude of fields. Here’s how to get live help online for just about any question, problem, or learning opportunity.
Disclaimer: My Company, Nerds on Call, provides the Tech Support experts for eHow Now and receives compensation for our services.
Google Helpouts (https://helpouts.google.com/) links experts in a myriad of fields (from plumbing to pet care) with users in need of assistance using video chat. Google Helpout is the only major online assistance resource currently offering video chat. Competitors connect you with an expert using email, an instant messenger-style chat, or phone.
Video conference offers advantages. If you’re working with an online personal trainer, for example, you can see exercises performed and the expert can correct your technique. However, it can make some users uncomfortable to have a stranger see them over the reciprocal video feed.
Find an expert by cruising common categories (including Art and Music, Computers and Technology, Cooking, Health and more) or type a specific subject into the search bar on the Google Helpout homepage to get a list of experts that list experience in your indicated area. If the expert is currently available, you can get started immediately, or schedule a time to connect later.
Experts are allowed to offer services after completing an online form and receiving an invitation code. Experts create their profile set their own prices, resulting in a large variation in cost. Some offer assistance for free, many with the intention that the exposure will draw business to their company, while others claim altruistic love of the subject matter as their reward. Many charge a set rate per session, or base the rate on time (such as $10 for a 15-minute session, or $0.25/minute). Certain services are pricier than others. For example, therapy or psychiatric sessions seems to average about $100/hour.
Just Answer (www.justanswer.com) allows the person with the question to set the value of the answer. Simply type in a question, name the price you’re willing to pay for the answer, leave a monetary deposit and the expert answers your question within minutes or hours. You’ll get an email notifying you that the answer is available.
Experts are vetted by Just Answer, requiring experience in the field and/or credentials supporting their knowledge base. A third-party service verifies at least one relevant credential of every Just Answer expert, who must also pass a subject-specific test.
The drawback is that if the posted answer doesn’t fix your issue, the ability to get clarification or ongoing assistance is limited. Many questions aren’t exactly straightforward. “How do I remove a virus,” for example, is hard to answer with any detail without an ongoing conversation.
eHow Now (https://now.ehow.com) offers a 1-on-1 chat between user and expert to allow continued dialog until the question is fully answered. Experts are field professionals, chosen and managed by eHow to ensure a consistent user experience across categories (including Pets, Automotive, Legal and more). Pricing varies by category and based on the speed you’d like your answer. During operating hours you can select an immediate connection for a higher fee, or sign up to get contacted via email within 24 hours to begin your conversation. There’s also a subscription option.
Prices are difficult to ascertain, however, until you’ve navigated into the “submit a question” rabbit hole. While instant chat is more responsive than email or static answers, there are limitations. Complicated queries can take a long time vs. having an expert show you over video or remote system access.