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How to ask questions the smart way.

by scottstef (Curate)
on Sep 10, 2001 at 18:19 UTC ( #111463=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

This topic seems to be a constantly recycled one. I wish I would have read something along these lines when I first started playing around with the giant play-ground called the web. Anyway there is a link to an article written by Eric Raymond, that is geared towards mailing lists, but fits here EXTREMELY well with some minor modifications.

"The social dynamics of the net are a direct consequence of the fact that nobody has yet developed a Remote Strangulation Protocol." -- Larry Wall

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Re: How to ask questions the smart way.
by cacharbe (Curate) on Sep 10, 2001 at 19:33 UTC
    I think this also needs a successor "How to write useful answers".

    • Listen (Read) intently
    • Test your Code, or mark it as untested
    • If you want to foster a community, don't be a prick.
    • RTFM is nice, RTFM or STFW with links is better
    • Be informative, remember, archives are eternal.
    • A well written response might become a S result on TFW, or, to quote "What we do in life, echoes in eternity" --Maximus, Gladiator
      ( Aside: Of course, sometimes I, too, become frustrated at an ignorant post, and lean more toward "At my signal, unleash hell")

    I'm by no means suggesting a level of hand holding greater than now occurs (well, maybe a bit), but I think we can show others what is expected of them if we lead by example. Besides, responses that are dense with information and solid (read: Tested) examples begin to create a repository of highly useful, and crossed referenced material, and isn't that what we are after?

    ( Aside: Hmm, new discussion node there...A count of the number of internal nodes referencing a particular node. This might be a good quick reference on a particular nodes usefulness, excluding manpages, etc...)


Re: How to ask questions the smart way.
by blakem (Monsignor) on Sep 10, 2001 at 23:46 UTC
How to appear like an arrogant buffoon.
by Maclir (Curate) on Sep 11, 2001 at 02:40 UTC
    Hmmmm. I actually read the article. Now, this is the LAST article I would ever think of referring to a person wanting to find out how to start using open source software. Sadly, Mr Raymond comes across as an arrogant, holier-than-thou, self appointed oracle, where unless you are as technically compentant as he is, he will either ignore you, or flame you to within an inch of your life, then ignore you.

    I wondered, while reading his article, how he started to learn about computer software and programming? His first teachers much have had infinite patience.

    While the essence of what he is trying to say is good, sadly, he is preaching to the choir - and like many preachers, too full of his own importance to understand how to present his message to those who need to hear it in a manner that they will find acceptable.

    I would hope that those of us here show much more tolerance and understanding than Mr Raymond. I am reminded of an old joke - the new IBM sales rep is introduced to a new client:

    Client: Well, one thing that I have found is IBM sales reps have a tendancy towards arrogance

    IBM Rep: Arrogance? What would you know, you stupid little man.


      Sounds to me like he is asking people to do some basic research first before asking questions, and to supply as much details as possible. This is perfectly reasonable.

      I may have got a different impression than you did, but I didn't see this as arrogant. Maybe exasperated, but bear in mind that ESR and other hackers don't get paid for answering questions - they're entitled to be pissed off when seekers are lazy (and waste their time as a result).

      Yes - he is preaching to the choir but this is still a good link to point newbies at. Especially ones who don't grok the culture.

      "The future will be better tomorrow." ... from the collected wisdom of George W Bush.

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