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What makes a bad question?

by demerphq (Chancellor)
on Oct 22, 2001 at 14:13 UTC ( #120486=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Today I had a little chat over the CB with a few people regarding a particular post. I was curious why it had such a low rep and also why it had been put up for consideration. When I discussed the later with the person responsible I realized that were some good reasons, but that these reasons were not obvious to me because the question was not within my scope of experience and perhaps because I havent been around as long as the individual concerned.

Now of course its up to senior monks to chose their comment when they put a node up for consideration, and its up to peoples conscience about how they vote but it is a generally held belief that downvoting someone without explaining yourself is bad form, and I think the same is true of consideration. Now this doesnt mean that you should downvote someone and post 'Cause you have a bad attitude' or things like that, theres no point in starting a flamewar if you dont like a post. But do consider that until TheDamian completes Perl::Mindreader written feedback is about the only way the OP will know what you didnt like and be able to put effort into changing their approach. You never know, you might even get a /msg containing an apology or explaination.

OTOH there are many reasons why people might not like a post, downvote it, consider it or just plain ignore it. So a few thoughts about new posts: (this list is not in the slightest bit exhaustive

  • Dont use module names as title/subjects.
  • When you pick a title ask yourself if you really think that anybody would be able to find it via a search.
  • If its a SOPW then before you ask do a search, at least on the same words as you will put in your title.
  • Try asking on the CB _first_ if its a simple question, or if you just need a pointer in the right direction
  • Post an example of code that you can't seem to figure out
  • Avoid the expression 'It doesnt work'
  • Read this excellent article by our very own Dominus
Oh wait. Lets do that again: Anyway, just felt like a post like this was needed. Its too bad to a certain degree that we dont have a set of posts like this that automatically show up on the monastery gates every now and again, and maybe always for anonymous monks and monks under a certain level.

Yves
--
You are not ready to use symrefs unless you already know why they are bad. -- tadmc (CLPM)

Comment on What makes a bad question?
Re: What makes a bad question?
by footpad (Monsignor) on Oct 22, 2001 at 19:26 UTC

    Similarly, the "senior monks" (to borrow your phrase) need to make sure they're not trying to use PSI::ESP; until such time the module's actually released.

    By which, I mean:

    • One student's "homework" might be a transitioning programmer's first project.

    • Not everyone has time to review 100,000 posts in a community before trying to find an answer to a question.

    • FAQ's are fine, but only if you know they're there. Perhaps there's a reason people are asking those questions frequently?

    • Everyone's a newbie at some time or other.

    • Topicality can be context sensitive. For example, permissions are not a Perl problem, but if you're writing your first CGI program in Perl, "How do I use chmod?" may be an relevant question to ask.

    • Some people really aren't aware that good software can be licensed and used for free.

    • We call them "research skills" for a reason; they have to be learned.

    Put a slightly different way, it's going to be easier for us to get people to believe that we are an open, accepting community if we treat them nicely while they're learning how the community works.

    After all, we're the ones that (presumeably) know what we're doing.

    --f

      PSI::ESP!

      I knew Perl::Mindreader was the wrong title!

      :-) Oh yeah, good points. Im glad a 'senior monk' decided to post em. I sorta felt like I shouldnt be telling you lot what to do...

      Yves
      --
      You are not ready to use symrefs unless you already know why they are bad. -- tadmc (CLPM)

        "Points matter not! Judge me by my points, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And, well you should not..."
        with apologies to LucasFilm, Ltd.

        And why not? If I'm wrong, I expect one of you to trout slap me as needed. Others have expressed similar views.

        The point being that we are (generally) a team with a similar purpose. I personally welcome all honestly-meant suggestions, regardless of the source. (Trolls, of course, will be cheerfully ignored.)

        So feel free to offer your ideas on what I or we should do. Just understand that I may (or may not) listen to them...but that's my own lookout. :-)

        --f

Re: What makes a bad question?
by FoxtrotUniform (Prior) on Oct 22, 2001 at 20:43 UTC

    Besides reading PM, I'm a teaching assistant for an undergraduate programming course, which produces questions that are similar in scope. In my experience, there are two kinds of questions:

    1. Inquisitive questions. The questioner needs (or wants) to know something, and can't find it in the places they know to look (which may be quite limited), so they ask in a public forum. Usually, at the start of term, most of these questions are right out of the textbook, but the people who ask these questions tend to keep finding references -- and using them -- as time goes on.
    2. Lazy questions. The questioner can't be bothered to RTFriendlyM or STFunW for their answer, so they post a question in a public forum and offload the burden of research and explanation to others.
    My point -- and I do have one, really! -- is that, in my experience, the most useful answer to "basic" questions is a quick pointer to the appropriate reference. The inquisitive questioner will discover a new source of information, and the lazy questioner won't waste as much of your time (and may just discover how useful manuals are).

    --
    :wq

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