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In my travels in Experts-Exchange, I see people wanting to be an Expert and wanting to earn points. I wrote this article to help you earn points, to help you become an expert, and to use as a reference when I am assisting people.
Let’s go to the last reason first. I like to earn points as much as anyone and I am somewhat skeptical of people who say “points are not important”. At a basic level, if you can earn 3,000 points a month on a sustained basis, you get free Premium Service. That is a real value of about $200 a year and worth it if you can answer questions. At a more substantial level, 5 Million points gives you free Premium Service forever. That is a bit of a leap, for sure, and only about 113 members have achieved that level (as of the end of 2015).
In between, however, with any substantial level of points (say 1 Million points), you gain the respect of the community around you, you demonstrate the ability to solve problems, and you earn points at the hands of your peers. This is really the core of the Experts-Exchange Question and Answer forum.
I will explore earning points shortly, but first the question: “Why do we bother earning points?” I earn points as the result of answering questions, and I answer questions in order to help people. I have had enough interaction over the seven years I have been a member here to know that people who ask questions are (in the large) happy to get a good answer and happy to reward the expert for that good answer.
I like first helping people and then, I am always pleased when a member gets the help they came looking for. I like the Good Answer! email. It just plain feels good. And then I like the points that go with it.
So how do you earn points? Let me tell you how I went about it and how my background fits into this.
I have been running my own business for 15 years, and that has given me a lot of experience in solving problems and a lot of experience in different kinds of systems. I had never heard of Experts-Exchange until 2008. In 2008, I purchased a ThinkPad T61p laptop with Windows Vista Business 64-bit running on it (later Windows 7). One thing I need to be able to do before putting any computer into production is to be able to access my clients via their VPN. All my clients (and my colleague’s clients) have Juniper Netscreen VPN boxes. I had used the Juniper Netscreen client for XP for 5 years, but it did not work in Vista 64-bit. I determined that the OEM counterpart was SafeNet Soft Remote. I ordered and purchased license at an absolutely obscene amount of money and then could not make it work. I took the machine to a (really good) VPN consultant I know, and he turned to Experts-Exchange, found a solution and we got it working. That was my first exposure to Experts-Exchange. I looked at Experts-Exchange, decided that a one-year subscription for $100 was within my business budget, and I signed up for a year. I remember thinking at the time “I will just read, not post anything”.
I remember the first question when I relented and posted an answer. A member wanted to migrate from Server 2000 to Server 2003. I had just done that at a client. I had engaged a consultant to help, the consultant recommended Swing-IT, the employees went home Friday, we worked over the weekend, and on Monday morning employees came back to a new Server with everything just the way they left it. So I posted my experience and about two days later, I got this Good Answer! email. I remember it feeling good and I remember the member was happy for the advice. So much against my own better judgement, I started answering questions and the rest is just history.
How do I answer questions and how to I earn the Good Answer! (or Good Assist!)?
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