Tutorial: How not to ask a technical question?

Salty post
This post can contain a high dose of sodium chloride. Too concentrated, this chemical compound can cause a certain amount of anger that can be read.

However, I will try to temper my anger and frustration. Good reading ^^

Thanks to BioWolf who translated the original thread written in French

The title speaks for itself. I chill on a development server and I can tell you that I see many questions. From the "noob" question leading to a RTFM1 to the most technical that requires some reflection. Most of them are from the left to the middle of this "question difficulty spectre". Obviously, the members of that server aren't the most experienced, but we are here to help eachother, right? This thread is not a philosophical debate on "why and how this or that thing, and should we help" or any other things like that. But rather on "how not to ask a question on a server whose purpose is to help eachother". comments_uri = "/2018/07/25/how-to-not-ask-a-technical-question.html"

TL;DR: Asking a generic question; in DMs; asking a question before the main and real question; screaming like your life was involved; not reading the manual nor searching; not giving helping information is not asking a technical question.

The generic question

A generic question can attract some curious people, but they could be unable to help you if they see that they can't help. So, you are often angry because you lost the time that you wanted to spare by asking a generic question to see if anyone would answer. It makes the others angry because they have to ask you details that could have been given to them from the start. And you will perhaps be frustrated if your too-generical question do not attract other's interest. So, you will grumble that nobody wanna help you and the fault will come back right to you because your question was too generic...

If you want an helpful answer, ask a precise question with details right from the start. And if nobody can help you, do not feel frustrated. Wait and continue your search ^^

The in-DMs question

Hm... Why asking me directly your question instead of asking it in a place meant for that purpose? It is useless as f*ck because I'm not able to answer everything. It is also possible that I am magically busy and I tell you to f**k off because you are bothering me...

Not only it makes me upset because you fill my DMs further than the overflow, but I am also bothered for nearly nothing because you ask me a question that I either won't be able to or don't want to. So...What's the use if it's to have an irritated person after your question? If it's a question about the server or anything like that, why not. But, c'mon...

By the way, I am not the only one to know the answers of your weird codes problems. From time to time, I have some people that ask me in DM like I was the only one in the world to know how to fix all their problems.

Bonus: Ask the question, then ask to continue in DMs

Yeah, i'm talking about the...

I have a problem with my code, some1 DM me to help?

NEIN NEIN NEIN NEIN NEIN NIEN NIEN ! Just... NO ! You are cumulating the generic question AND the MP question in one! It is far from the best way to request help. If several people answer, they won't be able to see eachothers' answers. You've got public servers for nothing, or what? Use it at your advantage.

The prior question before asking another

  • Could someone help me?
  • Yeah, what is your question?
  • <Question given>


  • Someone knows about <insert a subject>?
  • Yeah, gimme the question?
  • <Question given>

Is this recalling memories? Yes? No? I don't care. What I just want to illustrate here by this nearly-real talk is something that can bug more than one: asking a question to know if we can ask a question (weird, uh?) instead of directly asking it.

Instead of wasting time, directly ask you question ^^

Do you know <insert a search engine> ? // RTFM

Some questions are perfect for a search engine. And using thoses small well-coded robots could be a great thing. I can almost see the:

Yeah, you're funny, but I do not know how to ask my question nor how how to type it in a search engine.

Oh, Really? I thought you did not need the 250th grade with honors in order to ask a question to a search engine. Asking the perfect search engine question but saying that we don't know how to use it... Seems legit. Yeah, I am exagerating. But it is what I can see in the chat sometimes. If you are too lazy to search by yourself, I cannot do anything for you.

Some other questions got their answer in the software's manual, or in the doc you are looking for. It is unpleasant to face a question like "What option do I have to put in order to get the data that cURL sends me?". In this case, I just send you the documentation.

Seriously, I do want to answer questions but my name is not documentation and still less search engine.

Where is the error, the code and the call stack?

Some people ask their question precising what's going wrong. Without giving any code, nor the call nor error logs. No-thing. We can't help and we will just lose time asking for more information. I think you already lived the frustration of a good question without the required information.

We want to help you, but we can't because you do not give information that could help us understand. So we must ask them, or make hypothesis in order to help you.

Scream like your life was involved


*quietly laughs*

Nope. I can't help you because you are screaming. Well, I don't want to because I'd rather let you drown even if you say it's urgent. Why should we give you priority because you want something quickly? No. You will wait, like others.

From time to time, I'd like help as quickly as possible, but I do not scream nor tell everyone. I start to look on the web before asking. Then I continue to look for the information while the question is asked. It's efficient and you will certainly find your answer.

Ready-to-use code?

Could you tell me how to do <insert a list of elements refering to ready-to-use code>

In your dreams, dumbass!

We are not here to write code ready to be copy-pasted without being understood. We are here to help killing bugs or any other problem. But writing code like if we were you? No way.

ED: Too lazy to translate that meme. Deal with it.

Drake Meme. The first line shows Drake that says no to writing ready-to-use code. Second line shows Drake that is okay to help to solve bugs

In conclusion

I'm not saying that your questions are dumb. No question is dumb. But, it must be complete. Give all the information you think is useful. Write and describe your problem clearly. Giving too many information is better than not giving enough. But don't abuse, uh!

A good way to check is to read your question again and see if you would answer the question that you wanna ask to others. If you would not answer your own question, there are chances that others wouldn't.

Good coding ~!


Read The Fucking Manual