Everything a New User Needs to Know

  1. How is Help-QA.com maintained?
  2. What can I do on Help-QA.com?
  3. How do I find people to help?
  4. What are the benefits of a verified membership account on Help-QA.com?
  5. How do I set up a verified membership account?
  6. How can I get an account login link?
  7. What is bad behavior on Help-QA.com?
  8. How to I report problems?
  9. How do I use the Shoutbox?
  10. What is the Friends List for?
  11. What are the green or red dots next to a username?
  12. How do I find people to help?
  13. Why can't people younger than 13 years old use Help-QA.com?
  14. How do you keep minors from seeing adult or explicit questions and replies?
  15. How can I follow new replies to a Post?
  16. Can I hide my username when I write a post?
  17. Can I hide my username when I write a reply?
  18. Why do some comments await approval?
  19. How do I close my account here on Help-QA.com?
  20. Does Help-QA.com have a policy on religion?
  21. Can I advertise a product or service on Help-QA.com?
  22. Which codes, formatting, directives and HTML can I use in posts and replies?
  23. Why is my number of shouts dropping?
  24. Can I invite ALL my friends to a post?
  25. Help-QA.com Moderators
  26. Unknown and Undisclosed Locations
  27. What are the shape icons for anonymous users?
  28. What happened to the old Help.com posts?

How is Help-QA.com maintained?

Help-QA is currently being developed and maintained by the sole developer, @Rockster160. Feel free to leave him a shout if you feel like saying thank you! He loves talking to fellow Helpers.

The code is all open-source and hosted on Github. If you'd like to make a contribution, feel free to pull down the project and submit a Pull Request.

Don't know how to code, but still want to support the site? We accept Donations via the Donate Page.

What can I do on Help-QA.com?

The concept behind Help-QA.com is easy. This is an online community for asking questions and giving advice.

There is no limit to the types of questions you can ask. If another user has relevant experience or knowledge to share, they will volunteer a reply. The answers aren't always instant -- especially if research is involved -- so check back occasionally.

Ask any question you want. Discuss any topic. If your attitude is positive and constructive, any opinion is considered helpful and worth expressing.

How do I find people to help?

There are few simple ways to get involved with helping others here:

  • Scan the Homepage of Help-QA.com and read new questions as they are published. (You can jump to the homepage at any time by clicking the "Help-QA.com" appearing in the upper left corner of any page.)
  • The Notices Page: If you have a verified account, you will get a link to any post with tags that match any the tags you gave yourself on your Profile Page. This is the easiest way to stay on top of questions you have a particular interest in seeing. You also have the option of setting your Account to email you messages whenever new posts of interest to you are published.
  • Use Tag search box to review all past posts using the same tag. This search box is located in the upper-left column of the homepage. Type in a tag name like "trucks" and you will see a list of every question ever posted that used the tag "trucks".

What are the benefits of a verified membership account on Help-QA.com?

Membership is free. All we ever require is a working email address from you. We do this in order to give you the full benefits of verified membership in the Help-QA.com community. Once we verify your email address, your permanent membership account includes the following features:

  • Email alerts any time you get a new reply to any of your posts
  • Notification every time a new question is posted in a category of special interest to you.
  • A "Shoutbox" where you can receive messages from users and friends
  • Ability to build a "friends list" of fellow users you think are helpful
  • Ability to invite your friends to a specific post you feel they may be able to help out on.

How do I set up a verified membership account?

Setting up an account is free and easy. You can immediately start off with a temporary account that allows you to ask questions and post replies - but this account will deactivate after 24 hours. At that point, any posts/replies you wrote will be removed from public view.

Step 1: In order to start using Help-QA.com, write a question or reply to a post. Simply supply your email address* when asked. This sets up your temporary account.

* = Note, you must be 13 years of age or older to register.

Step 2: After replying or posting a question, you must do a one-time email verification of your account. If you give us a correct email address, we will email you a welcome letter that includes a secure login link that is unique to your account. (So don't show it to anyone else or they could impersonate you!) Simply click this login link and your account will become verified and registered as permanent.

Notice that this login link sends you to your Account Administration page. We do this because we strongly encourage people to fill in their profile information. The rest of the community is more likely to interact with you if they know a little about you and your interests.

How can I get an account login link?

We send you a secure login link in several welcome emails, but if you fail to see any of these, click this link to have another login link emailed to your in-box at any time:


An email will immediately be sent to you, however, if you see nothing for several minutes please check to see if the email was directed to your junk mail or spam folder instead of your in-box. Open the message and find the secure web link to your Account Administration page. As you click this link, your account will become permanent. It also jumps you to your Account Administration page.

What is bad behavior on Help-QA.com?

All opinions are worthy of being heard - we only ask that the advice at least be given with the intention of genuinely trying to help others. Our goal is to make participation in discussions both civilized and informative. Users who engage is serious misbehavior that hurts the experience of others in the community can have their accounts blocked.

Your account can be banned if you do anything to hurt the usability of the Help-QA.com for other community members. Here are the 5 easiest ways to get your account banned:

  1. Encouraging self-destructive behavior; or violence and abuse towards others.
  2. Lying about your true age.
  3. Speaking rudely to other Help-QA.com users.
    Disagreement is definitely allowed, but we do not allow name calling, swearing or attacks on anybody's gender, race, religion (or lack thereof), nationality or sexual orientation.
  4. Harassing other community members.
    Help-QA.com will not knowingly allow itself to be a venue for vendettas and feuds between individual users.
  5. Writing posts about fake emergency situations.
    Example: falsely claiming you are contemplating suicide.

The Help-QA.com staff has the final word on what is and is not bad behavior. If you believe another user is engaging in inappropriate behavior, do not argue with the other user. Simply alert a Help-QA.com community moderator. He/she will investigate, give a warning if necessary, or block an account if a serious violation of community standards of conduct is confirmed.

How to I report problems?

If you have questions, concerns or worries about any Help-QA.com website features or fellow community members, please leave a message in the Help-QA.com community suggestion box and one of our moderators will get right back to you:


How do I use the Shoutbox?

This is a great place to type brief text messages of thanks or encouragement for fellow users. You can access the Shoutbox in two ways:

  • If you see a user's name associated with a post or reply, click on that user's name. This will jump you to a Profile Page. Click the number listed below "Shoutouts".
  • You will often see small icons next to a user's name. Next to a picture of a bullhorn is a number. Click this icon or the number and you will jump to the Shoutout page for that user.

What is the Friends List for?

Relationships develop as you get to know other users on Help-QA.com. If you want to add a person to your Friends List you will be able to invite them to help answer questions you need help with.

You can add a person to your Friends List by clicking the add-a-friend icon located next to a username that appears in a reply to a post. (The icon looks like a person's head and shoulders, but with a green addition sign.)

Note that this will add the user to your list under the category of "favorites". The other user will now see you listed on his/her list as a "fan". If the other user agrees to be your friend, only then do you both appear as "friends" on each other's lists.

What are the green or red dots next to a username?

If a user is logged into Help-QA.com they will have a green dot next to their name. The dot is red colored if the user is logged out.

Am I allowed to include links to other websites or web pages in my posts and replies?

Yes, adding links is fine. Including links to good online resources is a great way to help people.

Why can't people younger than 13 years old use Help-QA.com?

It is illegal for Help-QA.com to knowingly allow children younger than 13 years of age to join the Help-QA.com member community. This rule exists because Help-QA.com complies with the U.S. government's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA).

How do you keep minors from seeing sexually explicit questions and replies?

Sometimes content can be sexually explicit and adult, but still be of legitimate help to people. Consequently, Help-QA.com allows the content to exist while keeping it hidden from minors.

We ask all users to provide their year of birth. If they are 18 years of age or older, users will be able to see any post the Help-QA.com staff has identified as being adult or sexually explicit. These same posts and replies will remain invisible to any user who is younger than 17 or younger or anyone who refuses to provide year of birth data.

At the same time, Help-QA.com recognizes that sexual education or health questions are often appropriate for young teens. To the best of our ability, Help-QA.com tries to ensure that these questions only get answered in a way that is scientific and serious minded. Anyone who is concerned about the appropriateness of a particular post or reply is encouraged to report the post directly to the community moderator.

At the bottom of every Post, there is a red "report" link which can be used to send reports of explicit material to the moderators at Help-QA.com


How can I follow new replies to a Post?

You can still easily read new replies to a question after the post disappears from the Homepage. The Notices page is a great tool for tracking new replies.

If you write a question or a reply, your account's Notices page will automatically list links to every new reply that follows.

If you are interested in following a conversation even though you haven't written a reply, you can still do it by "subscribing to updates". To do this, click the link that appears under the text of a question on a post's webpage. As before, you'll see links to new replies under the Notices page.

Can I hide my username when I write a post?

Nobody is anonymous to the Help-QA.com webmaster, but it is possible for you to post a question without revealing your username to fellow Help-QA.com users. Here's howโ€ฆ

When you write a post, simply check the "Post Anonymously" box before you submit the post. By entering an email address and choosing to post anonymously, we will be able to keep you up-to-date on replies and activity without revealing your identity to other members of the community.

Can I hide my username when I write a reply?

It is also possible to post anonymous replies. Notice the check box labeled "Reply Anonymously" located next to the button for submitting replies. If you check that box and then click the submit button, your reply will be anonymous. This option, however, is only available for registered and verified members.

Why do some comments await approval?

Help-QA.com uses automated filters to block from public view any post that includes a word or combination of symbols that can possibly be used in a manner that is insulting, pornographic, or threatening to others. This is why you might see a message telling you that your comment is awaiting approval.

If your comment is flagged as needing human moderation, your comment will remain invisible to public view until a Help-QA.com staff member can review your comment for context and confirm if your intent was helpful or educational. Before the comment is made visible to the public, offensive words or phrases might be censored or changed.

During regular business hours for the U.S. East Coast, comments requiring staff approval are processed very quickly. However, at night and on weekends, approval can take several hours.

Longtime members of the Help-QA.com community who establish a solid track record of providing advice without resorting to vulgar words eventually gain the privilege of not having their comments go through the automated filter.

How do I close my account here on Help-QA.com?

While we're very sad to hear that you're leaving, we're happy to help. To close your account at Help-QA.com visit the Settings tab in you Account Admin pages. Here you can disable emails we send out. Because no one can login as you, and we stop sending you emails, your account is effectively closed.

This does not delete any of your past posts or replies. It merely prevents any future activity with this account. It also still remains possible to reactivate your account by logging in and picking up where you left off.

Does Help-QA.com have a policy on religion?

Help-QA.com is not a religious website and it is not affiliated with any religious group. However, Help-QA.com is as appropriate a forum as any for general questions about religion, or questions that ask for a religious perspective on a problem. We welcome people who are inspired by their faith to help others and we recognize that many people find solutions through spirituality. At the same time, Help-QA.com attempts to balance this with an equal recognition of everyone's right to not have religious philosophy forced upon them.

As a courtesy to our international community, we encourage Help-QA.com users to follow guidelines for mentions of religion in their questions and replies.

  • Don't hide your faith, just avoid the "hard sell" of actually proselytizing and quoting scripture with the intent of winning converts.
  • Never attack other religious faiths, or a person's lack of spirituality.
  • Never condemn anyone else's behavior or life choices in religious terms, unless that other person clearly indicates they are open to hearing religious judgment.
  • Limit suggesting religious solutions for problems to only posts where the original writer of a question has indicated an openness to discussing spirituality.

Can I advertise a product or service on Help-QA.com?

Warning! We encourage our users to be skeptical and cautious of all promotions that appear as posts or replies. Help-QA.com endorses none of the products or services that may appear on the website. Help-QA.com will not vouch for the honesty or trustworthiness of any promoter or business.

That said, if the product or service is "helpful" to other users, registered users can promote their own products or services in their posts or replies. However, the following guidelines apply:

  • A distinct service or product can only be written about and promoted in a single post. Additional posts about the same service or product will be considered spam and deleted.
  • Promoting your service or product in replies to other posts is allowed, but only if personalized and directly relevant to the original question. Impersonal and irrelevant replies will be deleted.
  • Cutting and pasting the same wording into multiple replies is forbidden. Help-QA.com considers this to be spam.
  • The promotion can never ask other users to reveal personal contact or financial information about themselves as part of a reply to a post.

Users who violate promotion guidelines can have their accounts banned. Help-QA.com reserves the right to delete any posts and replies that hurt the user experience on this site.

Which codes, formatting, directives and HTML can I use in posts and replies?

Help-QA.com does NOT support HTML tags in posts or replies in order to protect our user's security. However, there are a variety of provided formatting tools that can be used to apply much of the same functionality.

We will automatically detect image and video urls- and will automatically show previews when added to your posts or replies.

Links and other urls will automatically be made clickable.

Help-QA.com supports basic Emoji, Markdown, and a few special "directives" to add to replies and posts:


Emoji's can be searched by typing a colon : and the emoji name. An autocomplete field will pop up that you can use to select an emoji.

View this page for a list of supported emoji.


In order to apply markdown to your text, simply put the character(s) before and after the word or phrase, and we'll do the rest!

When applying Markdown, always make sure that you put the first character against the front of the word or phrase you're using, and the last character against the last word, otherwise we assume that you are just trying to display the raw character.

The Markdown toolbar is available everywhere you enter text. Just click the small A at the top right of the text area.

If you would like to disable markdown for any character, add a backslash \ before the character, like this:
\* This is an asterisk without being bold.
(Don't worry, we'll hide the \ so it doesn't mess up your post.)

  • Bold

    Use * (Asterisk) to create bold lettering. Bold text is helpful when adding important messages.

    *This is my bold text*

    Found as B in the markdown tools.

  • Italics

    Use _ (Underscore) to create italic lettering. Italics are helpful for adding particular emphasis on a word or phrase.

    _This is my italic text._

    Found as i in the markdown tools.

  • Strike through

    Use ~ (Tilde) to create striked text. Striked text is useful for everything when you want to show a changed direction in your message.

    ~This is striked through text.~

    Found as S in the markdown tools.

  • Code

    Use ` (Back tick) to create inline code.

    `This is my inline code.`

    Found as m in the markdown tools.

  • Code Block
    Use ``` (3 backticks) to create a code block. Other than using 3 characters as the open and close, these act the same as the other Markdown symbols.
    ``` This is my block of code or text. This is more text that's included on another line. Other Markdown is supported within this block, however, you cannot nest multiple code blocks within each other. ```

    Found as >/< in the markdown tools.


In addition to the Markdown commands, we've also included a few easy commands that you can include in posts and replies to add enhanced functions to your text.

  • Polls

    Polls can be created in order to get feedback from users.

    In order to create a poll, enter this text on it's own line within your post:

    [poll: option1, option2, option3, optionN]

    Replace the option numbers with any number of the possible options.

    • Polls MUST have at least 2 options. However, polls can have any number of selectable options.
    • Only 1 poll may be added to a Post.
    • Currently, polls are limited to Posts. They cannot be added to comments.
    • Each user may only vote on a poll once. Until a user has voted, the results of the poll are hidden.
    • In order to vote on a poll, a user must have a verified account and be logged in.
  • Quotes

    Quotes can be used to show the text of another specific comment that you are replying to.

    Quotes can only be nested a maximum of 3 levels deep. After that, the rest of the messages will be compressed and can be viewed alternatively.

    In order to display a quote, enter [quote Bob]This is Bob's Text[/quote]. Adding the username is option, but recommended.

    Bob wrote:
    This is Bob's text.

    This is made easier by using the quote button on the edge of a reply. (Quote this reply)

    Found as in the markdown tools.

  • Whispers

    Whispers can be used as a spoiler- a user can only see the contents after clicking on it. Be sure to add a warning so they know what they're getting themselves into!

    Whispers can also be used to send a message to a user that other users cannot view. Simply use a Whisper inside of the shout space and only you and the other user will be able to reveal the contents!

    (Mods still have access to view these messages.)

    In order to add a whisper, enter [whisper]This is my secret message![/whisper].

    Whisper (Click to reveal)

    Found as in the markdown tools.

  • Invites

    You can invite a friend to a post by entering their username preceeded by an @ sign.

    Hey @HelpBot! We need you!

    Found as @ in the markdown tools.

Why is my number of shouts dropping?

Shouts older than 30 days are not included in a user's shout count.

Can I invite ALL my friends to a post?

At Help-QA.com, we discourage users from performing "blanket" invites to a post. If you are selective about who you invite to a post, invite selectively, and personalize the invitation message you will get a much better response rate.

Help-QA.com Moderators

Help-QA.com promotes certain users to volunteer moderator positions. However, these moderators are not employees and do not represent our views. Additionally, volunteer moderators should never ask for personal information such as email address, passwords, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. If they do, please file a report about the action so that the WebMaster may look into this breach.

Unknown and Undisclosed Locations

While we make a great effort to provide location data for every user, this is not always possible. In these cases, the users location is marked as "Unknown".

We also provide every user the option to hide their location. In these insstances, their location will be listed as "Undisclosed".

What are the shape icons for anonymous users?

Each anon user is assigned a unique "Anonicon" so that if several anonymous posters contribute to a thread, other user's can distinguish between the replies. Also, they're just fun!

What happened to the old Help.com posts?

We still have them! Thanks to the intermediate site, HelpToGo, many of the posts and replies from the original Help were preserved to an extent and are available at the Help Archives.

Be advised: Times the replies happened were not preserved. Shouts, other chat messages, and some formatting were lost as well.

Additionally, as the archives are hosted on a small server, pages loads can take a significant amount of time to load in some cases.