Ten ways NOT to ask a question in a developer forum:

by Morten 21. July 2006 12:25

Call me arrogant it you want, but you have probably seen some of this yourself. People sometimes seem exceptionally lazy when asking for help in a developer forum.

Here are some of the questions I often see in developer forums and that are rarely answered.

1.  "It does not work – Please help"
…if this is all you ask, how would you ever expect us to be able to help you?

2. Is this code correct? (followed by 100 lines of uncommented code snippets)
Do you really expect someone volunteer to set up a project, do what ever it takes to have your code run in our setup, fix it and send it back to you ready to implement in your project? Showing a bit of initiative, writing what this code does, where the error is, showing that you actually have been doing some debugging etc. always helps. Lots of code comments also help us understand your code without spending a lot of time analyzing it.

3. I get an error in this line: (followed by one line of code at most)
Ehm yeah so? Please state what you were trying to do, perhaps showing some previous lines of code, write WHAT error you received and preferably a full stack trace.

4. Could someone please write an application that does this and that?
Most developer forums are for helping out – not for doing YOUR job.

5. Reply to someone else’s thread, with a completely different question.
Did you ever wonder what the button "Create new thread" is for? (ex)

6. Create multiple new threads with the same question.
This tends annoy most people. Annoyed people tend not to be so helpful. Just because you haven’t received a reply within the last hour, it rarely helps asking over and over.

7. Make it clear that you never really put any effort into it to begin with.
Showing that you have actually tried working with your problem, that you have read the documentation and browsed the demos usually helps a lot to get people interested in helping you.

8. Follow-up on a question in a new thread, without referring to the previous thread.
How should we know what you are referring to? (ex)

9. Make a topic that could be about anything.
If you want people to read your post (and preferable someone who knows something about this), make sure the topic makes sense in relation to your question. It will also help people find your question later, when they run into the same problem. Topics like "Can I do this?" or "Problem" is not very appealing posts to read.

10. Ask a question in the wrong forum.
How would you expect to get help with printing from Microsoft Word in a forum about PostGreSQL?


Feel free to add some more in the comments section :-)

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Comments (1) -

Brian Timoney
Brian Timoney
7/21/2006 4:42:02 PM #



My current favorite is KML that "doesn't work" that, if loaded into an ordinary parser would error out at unclosed tags, etc.



BT

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Morten Nielsen

Silverlight MVP

Morten Nielsen
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