Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Software is a community phenomenon. For almost everything, no matter what you're doing, someone else out there is doing or has done something similar. Maybe they're not doing the same big-picture thing, but someone else is doing that small task you have before you now.

You can ask for help. And you're really very likely to get an answer, but only if you ask the right way.

Whether you ask your team a question, or send out a request to a mailing list, or hit up a support forum, or hop onto an IRC channel, you need to remember a few basic things:

  1. Describe what you're trying to do. Give the user some context so they don't suggest something that makes no sense. Don't take more than about three sentences to do this, at most.
  2. Indicate you've tried something. This does two things: (1) shows you're trying; and (2) prevents people from suggesting something you've tried.
  3. Ask a question. Make sure you actually ask a question. Be as specific as possible in describing what you need to move forward.
Doing these things alone will greatly increase your chances of getting an answer. You've made it easier to understand your question, and therefore to answer it. Asking seems so easy, doesn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment