in reply to
What makes a bad question?
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:
- 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.
- 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
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).