|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
How To Ask A Question (Simple English) (RFC)by Boldra (Deacon)
|on Aug 14, 2009 at 09:55 UTC||Need Help??|
Make your question betterChatterbox
If you are a registered user, you can ask simple questions in the Chatterbox. Sometimes you can get a very quick answer. Keep Chatterbox questions short and simple.
Explain your problem
Show your error messages. Don't show too much. The first error is usually the most important error.
Check your question
Don't change your question after you post it. Use preview or post a comment on your own question.
Not all questions get moved to the Monastery Gates. Your question will get answered anyway.
Environment and sample data
Why strict and warnings?
BackgroundThis potential tutorial is specifically aimed at new monks who take one look at How (not) to ask a question and just give up, thinking "that's too long" or "I don't understand all that", and thus repeatedly ask bad questions. I don't assume the reader is an idiot, but I assume he is a beginner, has difficulty with English, and is impatient. The 'Simple English', in the title is intended to be attractive and not insulting for new monks. I'm also intentionally avoiding modal verbs, idioms and obscure vocab. I've left many qualifiers out, like 'unless' 'except when', and 'for beginners'. More experienced monks will know where they belong.
There are already many nodes about asking questions, but they are so long and full of links that they can be very daunting to someone who does not speak English well and is impatient (a nasty combination). I'm not trying to replace the older, wiser nodes, but act as a stepladder towards them. In particular, some new monks keep getting sent to How (not) to ask a question, which begins with a link to an outdated FAQ saying 'read this first'. The FAQ then links immediately to 9 other docs. Even a native English speaker could take most of a day to read all of that AND understand it. One of the goals in this node is to minimize such distractions.
I asked for feedback in the chatterbox. In line with my goal of keeping this really short, I decided against a section about 'please fix my mess for me' (rentacoder) kind of questions, because somehow I feel that monks just shouldn't get upset about this. Sometimes the lucky novice even gets the code they demanded. Instead I just added "don't make demands" after "be polite".
In line with chatterbox feedback, I scrapped the section on CPAN, to keep it to the point of 'read this before posting'.
Some form of this background comment will remain on the final version.