Helping someone on a computer who is not familiar with the Internetz and all its glory is daunting. From basic copying and pasting to navigating the land mines of garbage out there, patrons without much experience are almost doomed to fail. Here is where we come in. Librarians, physical search engines and masters of PEBKAC*, must help our patrons the best we can.
After the jump are the most common patrons that I know of and how to deal with them.
1. Entry Level: We can help you set up an email, first put the mouse back on the table.
Your entry level computer user will have no idea how to do things you take for granted, such as navigating the GUI**. He or she will not understand how the mouse works and honestly, does not need to. Simply explain what it does and have them play with it. Best practice when working with entry level users is to not do the work for them. Tell them what to click and what the clicks mean. Tell them what to type and why they are typing there. Do not do the typing and clicking for them. The best way for computer users to learn is to simply do the work. They will get better, just keep encouraging them and telling them that everyone makes these mistakes at first. The worst thing you can say is "You are not doing that right." This is a computer, no one does it right.
2. Wikihounds: I am sorry, but just because Wikipedia claims Obama is Canadian today does not make it so.
*"Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair" also known as an "ID-10T error"
**"Graphic User Interface" Using a mouse to click on stuff on a screen.