ATE Evolution: Becoming Your Resource

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The Health Physics Society (HPS) Web site was created in 1996 to further the HPS mission of promoting communication among people who conduct radiation safety activities; to encourage scientific, professional, and public education; and to disseminate sound scientific information. In 1999, a new feature called “Ask the Experts” (ATE) was added allowing individuals from around the world to pose questions concerning radiological protection. With the help of four editors, 20 topic editors, and 125 subject experts, nearly 5,000 questions have been answered. Response to questions submitted is rapid with the topic editor corresponding directly with the questioner. Most responses involve only one interaction although there may be follow-up interactions to fully resolve issues in the questioner’s mind. Experts must provide prompt, valuable, and sound scientific answers in an easy-to-understand manner. The ATE feature is the most popular on the HPS Web site. With a current average of three questions submitted each day (including weekends), it became increasingly difficult for a person browsing the Web site to find information among the many posted questions and answers. Because of this difficulty, some questions were being asked repeatedly. It was decided to redesign the ATE feature to make the process of finding information easier. Answer categories were merged, eliminated, added, or reduced in size. “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) or information sheets were developed. As a result, 36 categories became 25, and 18 FAQs, 22 information sheets, and 8 reference sheets were created to provide useful information resources for HPS members, radiation safety professionals, and the public.

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