I've been angling to make our Ask The Experts (www.chemicalprocessing.com/experts/) area more interactive since I started on the magazine four years ago. And Editor Mark Rosenzweig has been wishing for this even longer. Well, the wait is over. I'll spare you the details of the lengthy trip on the long and winding road to this point. But suffice it to say, the programmers we contracted to work on this project really outdid themselves.
The index page for Ask The Experts features 27 categories (from combustion to steam and thermal systems). Each category is assigned a guru(s) to address your questions. You can submit a question by clicking on the red button that says “Pose a Question.” This will take you to a short form to fill out to provide information needed to address your query. Remember, the more details the better. But note that the Q&A will be visible to everyone — so don't divulge sensitive information. Rest assured, we won't include your name, company or location.
Previously, only our experts could offer answers. They still will get first crack but now you can add advice and comments, too. One caveat — you must be a registered user of ChemicalProcessing.com to contribute. (You don't need to be registered to pose a question. However, we encourage it so you can add details or simply thank the experts for their time.) If you're not a registered user, the system will prompt you to become one — it's a quick and easy process. The registration will ask for your first and last name, e-mail address and enable you to create a nickname to use on the forum. You can choose to use your real name or come up with a fun moniker – just keep it clean, please. You also will create your own password. And if you choose, you can upload a photo that will appear next to your comments.
There are hundreds of Q&As on the site in nearly every category. Not only can you find solutions to similar questions you might have, you possibly can offer insights to your peers or ask additional questions to see if suggested answers worked out as planned. To add your input, click on the red “Post Your Comment” button (again, you must be logged in to do so.) This forum extends your reach for answers and offers you a seat at the brain trust table.
Another great feature is the subscribe function. You can subscribe to an entire category by clicking the red Subscribe button (mixing, for example) and you will be alerted via e-mail each time there is a new Q&A in that category. Or you can choose to only subscribe to a specific question. There's no limit to the number of categories or questions you can subscribe to – and unsubscribing is just as easy. If you are subscribed to something the red Subscribe button will turn into a red Unsubscribe button. Just click it and you will no longer receive alerts.
I'm looking forward to watching the conversations grow.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the social media front, be sure to check out her Google+ page.