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Frequently Asked Questions:

Ask Dr. Webbie

Answers to Your Internet Questions

Is there an Internet question you'd like to see answered in a future edition of Website Compass? Email your question to DrWebbie@WebsiteCompass.com.

To assist him in answering your question as specifically as possible, be sure to include the following: the name of the browser you are using (i.e. Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox 2.0, etc.), the name of the email software you are using (i.e. Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0, OS 10.4 Mail, etc.), and the version of your system software (i.e. Windows 98, Windows XP, etc.)

QUESTION: Do you have any tips on how to get my internet browser to work more quickly?

ANSWER:
Yes, there are some simple things you can do which may improve your browser's speed and performance. The specific steps will vary depending on which browser you use — do a Google search on your browser and version — but here are the basics:

While we're on the subject of browsers, it's important to stay on top of updating yours, both for performance and security reasons. To find out which browser version you're using currently and if it's outdated, visit updatemybrowswer.org.

QUESTION: Sometimes when I visit a website, a little window pops up and asks if I have questions or need help. What are those windows called?

ANSWER:
What you're describing is called a chatbot. It's a computer program (and low-level form of artificial intelligence) that mimics intelligent conversations with humans, usually through audio or text. A company may use a chatbot so that instead of having you search for information on its website, you can interact with a chatbot to find what you need more quickly.

Chatbots are normally put in place to answer simple questions such as ones involving basic product or company information. In some applications, however, chatbot conversations can be combined with actual humans to answer more complex questions.

An amazing thing about chatbots is that they can get "smarter" over time, learning from previous conversations to gradually become more and more effective. In other words, the more knowledge a particular chatbot gains, the better able it will be to answer future customers' questions.

Many big-name brands, such as Uber and Sephora, are now using chatbots to interact with their customers. Since chatbots are becoming a powerful marketing tool, you can expect to see more of them during your time online.