Saturday, September 16, 2006

How to ask a question?

How to ask a question?

This article describes briefly the steps you must follow to ask a question to a mail group or forum. If you are sending a mail to our groups then we are simpler than these steps, you are using step #5 in before you send a question. Use these steps when you send a question to TAs and other mail groups or forums.

Before you send a question,

Do the following in the same order:

  1. Search archives and FAQs
  2. Use search engines.
  3. Read a manual or book or help for your tool.
  4. Find answer by try or experiment.
  5. Ask a friend.

Prepare your question:

  1. Show that you have done last steps and you failed, this proves that you are not lazy.
  2. Show your steps in trying to solve the question.
  3. Try to surround the problem, i.e. try to get the problem in the smallest block.
  4. Describe your environment, e.g. operating system, compiler, others.
  5. Identify yourself.
  6. Compilers and other tools are trusted or to some extend so; don’t assume a bug in them.

When you ask:

  1. Choose the most relevant community to ask.
  2. Use a meaningful, exciting subject that attracts people to read. Don’t simply use “I need help”, “I got error” as subject.
  3. Try to be clear, write a question in a careful way, free of spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  4. Give all information and only information needed. Don’t waste time by describing your design which will not affect the problem.
  5. Don’t let people ask you again about details.
  6. Don’t send you guess instead try your guess yourself if it doesn’t work wait for a reply and send then your guess.
  7. Send questions in easily accessible format. Use standard fonts. You know problems of character encoding.

After getting an answer:

  1. Tell the replier if his answer fixed your problem or not.
  2. Send a small delicate thanks reply for the person wasted his time for you.
  3. You may send a report of the problem and steps in solving it.
  4. Prevent others from following the same steps in solving that problem, I mean reduce their efforts.

Finally smart question attract repliers to answer. Also, new idea sounds well. If you got no reply then, don’t panic may be repliers have no answer. And remember Ask the right question to get the right answer.