updated 08:40 pm EDT, Mon March 19, 2012
Boosts user-driven support communities
The online Apple Store has added links to a new feature called "Answers from the community" that offers buyers' solutions on common questions relating to Macs, iPhones and iPads. In some cases, a single "best" answer is picked by Apple, in other cases a collection of best responses are shown. A list of top questions and popular topics are linked, taking readers to dedicated pages answering questions on a variety of topics.
The feature also allows shoppers to ask questions not already answered directly from the store pages, making the Apple Support Communities forum more useful to first-timers who would not know to look for such answers. Users can also opt to type in answers to questions, though the answers will only appear if they are chosen as a "best answer" by the store's support staff (usually within one business day, a "thank you" form suggests). Keeping the answer concise and on-topic are among the tips Apple offers for answer writers.
So far, the new section is available for Macs (generally), iPad and iPhone. The store has not yet linked any "Answers from the community" to its iPod, Mac Pro or Apple TV product pages. The answers are provided by actual users and are not always entirely reflective of Apple's own company positions, such as questions on which product is best for a college student or whether a user should buy anti-virus.