"Ask the Expert" or Advice Column

Like many web sites, we wanted to have an "Ask the Expert" feature where the users could submit questions and an expert could give advice. There were a few things we really wanted to make this work well.

  1. The expert had to be notified when a question was posted.
  2. The answered questions needed to be available in a Q&A format.
  3. There should be no administrator overhead in the process.
  4. The process had be governed by appropriate permissions.
  5. We wanted a customizable header for the question page.
  6. We preferred a ready-made solution to creating our own module.
  7. It had to be extensible to more than one expert.

There were two modules that seemed promising, yet neither had everything. Adding the Subscriptions module< filled in many of the gaps.

FAQ Module<

We were already familiar with this module since we use it on several sites. It is a well documented module and the module's owner is very responsive. This is a big plus.

This had almost everything; it's biggest weakness was the inability to have a temporarily unanswered question. A simple hack could fix that for this application, but would also affect the other FAQ uses. A more complicated hack might be useful; but we would prefer official support from the module's owner. We submitted a feature request for this; perhaps it will happen.

Question Module<

According to the meager documentation, this module was actually written for this type of application. Unfortunately, that's just about all we could glean from that documentation.

It is a major weakness of any module to have poor documentation. We had to submit a support request to ask some very basic questions that should be answered on the module's project page.

Another concern was that there were some rather old (35 weeks) entries on the issue queue. This is often a big red flag for any module - no, or poor, support. It's not that we don't have the ability to dig in and fix things - it's that we shouldn't have to.


We finally decided to test both solutions. The following pages detail our results.