Where Techies Go For Help

While it's no surprise that over half use the Web first to solve technical problems, co-workers make a surprisingly poor showing

According to a techies.com survey of 714 full-time, part-time, self-employed, and unemployed U.S. tech professionals, the majority of techies get most of their information and questions answered through the Web. The survey, completed in December 2002, ranged from computer operators to IT vice presidents.

Apparently for most techies, all those technical manuals and CDs stacked in their offices or cubicles aren’t exactly on hand for reference. Only about 13 percent of techies say they first consult the tech manuals when they have a technical question. Fifty-five percent, by far the highest percentage, surf the Web right away for answers to work-related questions. Co-workers, at 14 percent, are the next most likely source to get the first crack at a technical question.

Women techies are more likely to go to their co-workers for assistance while men are twice as likely to try to figure out an answer themselves.

Excluding work purposes, the Web is used daily by 39 percent of techies to answer technical, IT training, or career questions. Conversely, the majority of techies rarely, if ever, use e-mail to get their technical, training, or career questions answered. Fifty-four percent surveyed say they “rarely” or “never” rely on e-mail to get advice or answers. It’s important to note that those techies who don’t use e-mail for help also don’t use the Web for help: 67 percent of techies who say they rarely use the Web to get answers to their questions also rarely use e-mail for the same purpose.

General, all-purpose search engines are by far the most helpful online resources to help techies do their jobs, according to the survey. Google, Yahoo, and MSN are the top three sites visited by tech pros for job purposes. Techies, for the most part, get a lot of their news from the general search engines, but CNN.com is still the most visited primary news site.

Including all purposes, Yahoo is the most visited site by techies, according to a previous techies.com survey completed in October 2002. MSN and Google rank second and third, respectively. The same survey found Amazon, ZDNet, eBay, and CNet as the most popular shopping or e-commerce sites used by tech professionals. Surprisingly, a much higher percentage of men than women said they routinely visit eBay. The percentage of men perusing the mega e-commerce site is 11 percent greater than for women. Women seem to prefer a wider variety of shopping sites according to the October survey.

Here are some other lifestyle stats of interest collected from several recent techies.com surveys:

  • 22 percent of techies prefer instructor-led or self-paced individual Web-based training to other types of tech training

  • 12 percent of techies keep a Web log

  • 89 percent of techies use online job boards in their job search

About the Author

Nick Doty is editorial director of Techies.com, an online career and training center for technology professionals based in Minneapolis.