I tried looking up the answer for this one online already, but I couldn't find something for my specific scenario:
I am interested in reaching out to a few professors in the field that I am interested in, Computer Science, in regards to some specific problems I might be facing in the immediate future. However, I'm slightly unsure of how to do this. That is, I don't attend the University they teach at and I do not have a college degree. Does this make a difference of some sort or can I contact them without having to explain that I don't attend their University? Is this something that I should even bother bringing up prior to speaking to them, or is it a complete non-issue?
I feel like if highly technical, learned people like professors are so easily accessible - completely free of charge - then I find the entire concept of attending college kind of hard to grasp. Maybe I'm missing a basic underlying concept here. Perhaps they would be under some kind of NDA in how much information they would be able to provide if it was on cutting edge research, or something else I might not be accounting for? The entire concept of just e-mailing some of the top scientists in a given field strikes me as kind of odd, especially if I don't have to pay them for their time.