New in Ask an Expert: I’m Working on This

If you’ve been working in the Ask an Expert application, you’ve probably had a question assigned to you by either the automated Ask-bot (our routing algorithm), a Question Wrangler, or one of your colleagues.

In a perfect world, the question assignment came at a convenient time and in a relevant subject area. But we know that’s not always the case. A question assignment may come in when you are swamped, or completely offline. Or it’s a content area beyond your expertise. Or perhaps, you have time available to work on a question and none are assigned to you. If any of these problems sound familiar, we hope you’ll like our latest addition to Ask an Expert.

Coming Monday, March 23rd is the ability to indicate when a question being worked on. We call it “I’m working on this.” Basically, you tell us when you are actively working on a question, and we’ll spread the word.

A new graphic banner at the top of every question page indicates whether anyone is working on a question. When you view an unanswered question, you’ll see that it’s either up for grabs:
or being worked on:

The “being working on” status will also be indicated in the Incoming Question queue:


So, how does this change affect your workflow?

When you have time to work on a question, you need to click the big, green “I’m working on this” button at the top of the page.
That will update the banner on the question page and “gray out” the question in the incoming queue. If you need more time to answer it, you can click the button again to get another 2 hours. There’s no limit to how many times you can request “2 more hours”, but once the time expires, the question is up for grabs by other responders.

The net effect is that once everyone indicates what they are working on, the remaining questions will stand-out. If you have time to answer questions and none are assigned to you, it’s easy to scan the incoming question list and see whether a question is up for grabs or if someone is currently working on it. Previously, you may have seen an “easy” question in the incoming question queue, but didn’t want to take it away from the assigned expert. This new feature makes it easier to everyone to work around their own schedule, without stepping on any toes.

We want to hear from you

Positive or negative, we’d really like to hear how the change affects your work. You are welcome to comment here, but we’ve also created a Get Satisfaction thread to specifically collect feedback on this new feature.