How to ask forum questions


Copy/Paste from +minor edits

How do I ask a good question on a forum?
Thanks to:
Ove Lindström Oct 15, 2015 7:26 PM

I love forums. The nerdier the better. One of my absolute favorite ones is the Java Ranch.

Why? Because they have a good tradition of asking good question.

This, unfortunately, seems to be something that is mostly absent in many forums. Let me share with you a small guide on how to ask question on a forum.

Asking questions in general is an art. The quality of the answers depends a lot on the quality of the question. When you do not get the answer you wanted, you should always ask yourself “could I improve the question”.

The first rule of getting a good answer is " Show Some Effort/Work "

Remember that people are not getting paid to answer your questions on this forum. You are going to take their personal time, so make sure you at least put as much effort into the question as you expect others to give back. Do not presume that other people’s time is so much less valuable than yours that you can afford to take shortcuts when typing your question - especially if doing so causes them to have to spend more effort just to figure out what you’re asking.

Be precise

If you have gotten an error message, post the WHOLE error message. Paraphrasing doesn’t help much, especially in the cases where the message gives details that you don’t know how to interpret but is invaluable to others.

Search first

  • Use the search field in this forum.
  • Use Google.

Tell us what you have searched for and someone might just give you a hint on what to search for. I personally hate when you can cut’n’paste the one-liner question of the subject into Google and get 10-15 good answers. (And yes, even if I use an anonymous Chrome instance).

Take it easy

So, you are in a hurry to solve a problem, call day care?
It does not help to write IN CAPITLAL LETTERS.
It does not help to write URGENT and ASAP.
No one likes it when you pass over your stress to them.
Take 10 and download the Headspace app or get yourself a Rubber Duck. It is amazing how good problem solver Rubber Ducks are. (Google on Rubber Duck Debugging).

Be patient

Don’t go pushing your post to the top stating “Anyone??”. 24 hours or even a couple days is not a long time to wait for an answer. While you are waiting you could “Show Some Effort” by trying to look up the problem and possible solution yourself as described in “Search First”.

It is perfectly fine to bump a post if you have new information like “I found this article but can someone explain what they mean with X?”.

Use a meaningful subject line

This has a lot to do with “Show Some Effort”. This is your way of advertising your question. “SLING FRAME WORK” is not a good subject. “Where do I find Sling Tutorials?” is a better one. Forum junkies like me loves a challenge. Make sure your subject is challenging.

Not a “Code Mill”

“I have been given the task of implementing a n-th level cache for components. Please provide me with the code to make it work.”
Is this something that needs to be explained? We have worked a lot to get where we are today.
If you do not know how to do a task, you should tell it to your manager or team lead.

Tell the Details

We want the details, the whole details and nothing but the details. Telling us that “My program throws an error” will just render in the question “What error?”.
Telling us “My program throws a NullPointerException on line 13. Below is the code and the stack trace” is much better.

This is what you should be able to describe:

Detailed description of problem
    what you did
    what you expected to happen
    why you expected it to happen
    why you need it to happen
    what actually happened instead and why what happened is a problem to you
Error message
Version numbers of relevant libraries, JDK, tools, operating system etc.
Code snippets
Stack trace
What else you tried/what worked/what didn't work

99 times out of 100, I have solved the problem when I have answered the questions. See Rubber Duck Debugging.

“Use Real Word”. Mst ppl dnt lk 2 read an sms lk msg. Do this with your friends if you like to. Same with using “h4x0r353”.

Quote your sources.

Tell us where you got the question from, such as what article, documentation, wiki, website etc. , or what actions you took/process the system underwent before the issue happened if it is a troubleshooting problem.

Remember to include the logs from your system and make sure all sensitive information is removed/censored out (ex. **REMOVED**)_

Include links to articles you’ve read or followed, explain in detail as much as possible and the steps you’ve taken to try and solve the problem. We are after all an open-source community and are all volounteerly contributing our time and effort both to this project and to each other.

It is therefore important for everyone one of us in this community and you who is reading this as an individual member of this community, that you at the very least try to solve the problem yourself (to the best of your abilities, no matter how skilled you are) and/or give others enough resources to go on when trying to help you where to find the right information or provide a possible resolution and help you with your issue.

sudo ncp-report
- insert the other update commands + steps

“Post Text not Screenshots”. When posting code, compiler messages, or really anything to the forums, please post text using code tags rather than attached screen shots. Or use a service like pastebin dot com.
Not only do the screen shots require people to download them to their computers – something many people are reluctant to do – they are not searchable, cannot be indexed by search engines, and cannot participate in cut-and-paste.
Besides, making it more difficult for people to help you by putting extra steps in the way isn’t a great strategy for encouraging people to spend their time to assist you.

“Say thanks”. If you get a good answer that helped you, say Thanks. That way, the one that replies will know that next time you post a question, you will appreciate the effort
that was put into the answer.

“Use your own name”. I rather answer a question from “Clive Owen” than “slartibartfast”. I like talking to people.

“Do not scream”. Using capitalized letters, specially in subjects, are commonly considered to be somewhat rude according the netiquete.

“No need to say Sorry”. The tips I have posted re not rules so there is no need to apologize if you forget to follow them. If someone pointed any of these tips out to you, they did so because they really want to see you get the best help possible with your question. I break my own rules all the time.

More really good reading on this subject can be found at How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

We hope this doc was helpful, if you encounter any issues please reach out to the community.
These docs are written by volunteers, please consider becoming one of them.
Contact the wiki team on Matrix or Telegram

or use #ncp tag on this forum. :wink:
The tag auto-notify our chats.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: About moving the articles