What to call someone who answers questions

Subject: What to call someone who answers questions
From: Stewart Walker <stewart -dot- walker -at- CPE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 1996 09:54:19 +1000

Hi all

I need some help with some terminology for the system we're developing...

Our system is an online service for the delivery of just-in-time training.
One of the services available to learners will be question and answer
sessions with people who are experts in particular subjects. Learners will
submit questions, and then receive answers via synchronous or asynchronous
conferencing. This could happen:

- in the context of other training activities (an "expert" is available to
answer questions that come up while you're doing some computer-based
training, for example), or

- standalone (a Microsoft Word guru might offer their services for a fee to
people who want to ask them questions about Word).

Our current terminology is that the expert is called a tutor. This is fine
for the first scenario, as there is a specific educational context for the
q&a session, making tutor a fairly good choice. However, it doesn't
adequately describe the second scenario, where someone just wants an answer
to a question and there is no specific educational context.

Ideally I'd like to come up with one word to describe both types of
"experts", as the functionality from the learner and the expert end is
identical in both scenarios. "Expert" is one option we've considered, but
we don't like it because it implies that the person answering the question
is superior to the person asking the question. We're also considering
"advisor", but we're not sure if users would understand it. Whatever option
we end up going with will be usability tested.

So what we're looking for is a name for a person who is available to answer
questions in a particular subject area. I'd be really grateful for any
ideas. We've thrashed this stuff to death within the project team.

While you're at it, I'd be keen to see any better alternatives for "learning
facilitator". "Learning facilitator" is a name that encompasses "experts"
and instructors who run classes. Although it has the right meaning for our
purpose, it's pretty long and ugly. If we can find a better name than
"learning facilitator" that conveys the same meaning, then we don't need to
worry about the expert/tutor/advisor conundrum.

Please send your responses directly to my email address
(stewart -dot- walker -at- cpe -dot- com -dot- au). If there's any interest, I'll summarise the
responses and post them to the list.

Thanks for your help.

"I love being a writer . . . what I can't stand is the paperwork"
-Peter De Vries

Stewart Walker
Technical Writer
Computer Power Education, ITS R&D Project
L4, 493 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 3004
Ph: In Australia - 03 9243 2317 International - 613 9243 2317
Fax: In Australia - 03 9820 2010 International - 613 9820 2010
E-mail: stewart -dot- walker -at- cpe -dot- com -dot- au
Check out our ever-improving web site at http://www.cpe.com.au

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