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Notice - How to answer questions.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2003 11:54 am    Post subject: Notice - How to answer questions. Reply with quote

How To answer questions.


The Internet can be a wonderful medium for exchanging information and gaining knowledge.

The wide range of questions that have been asked and answered is overwhelming, even for people who were around before there was an Internet. A forum that was very popular was USENET or newsgroups, and still is. However, most responses to questions asked on USENET result in answers just as RTFM, Search google and other various non-answers.
Some responses are much nastier and attack the person asking/responding to posts. Flame wars on USENET have make USENET a bitter and dangerous place to tread.

SFDC was conceived as a place where like-minded people could come, ask questions and share knowledge. No one knows everything about computers, but some have more knowledge then others. Everyone starts out as a lowly End User, even the most 31337 hacker.

One of the most common ways to learn is by asking questions and listening to the answers. A very wise saying I read a long time ago said this "We learn more by listening then we do by talking". Reading, searching the Internet and various other forms of knowledge gather is an active form of listening on a different medium.

Its natural for people to want to feel helpful, answering questions is one way for this to be good as long as the information is correct to the best ability of the responder. Please make sure you follow the guidelines below when answering questions to keep SFDC great.

Some general rules for responding on SFDC.

1. Keep on topic

It's natural for people in interactive forums to respond and sometimes go off track from the original point. If a response will be off topic yet still relevant, make a new thread, or topic. Off topic responses can make the people reading the answers unable to follow the thread.

If someone asks about Sygate Personal Firewall DO NOT tell them to install TPF or anything else. If someone has a problem with Windows, or a specific peice of software, tell them how to solve their problem, don't say "Install Linux" or "X is better". If you don't have anything positive to contribute as always, keep quiet Smile

2. Try to be accurate.

Hackers are generally very meticulous and always try to post information that is correct (spelling, grammar and technical aspects). If they are not sure they say that, and start researching the topic. Being able to admit you do not know something says a lot for your self-respect and there is an edit button on the forums for a reason (not just going back and correcting you spelling Very Happy). If your information is incorrect or incomplete, you will be informed of that. Sometimes in the general thread, other times in a Private Message (PM). "Better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than speak and remove all doubt"

So be careful when answering, a certain amount of guesswork is involved in solving any problem, but it must be educated guessing not wild stabs in the dark. If someone has not provided enough info in their question, and someone else has asked for the info, don't start guessing before all the info is provided.

If anything though, PLEASE ensure everything is spelt correctly and you pay attention to formatting, BBCode is good! Learn to use it, learn to use lists etc. Things such as "u" "ur" "iz" "cuz" are not acceptable and your post might well be removed if you do not correct it.

3. Avoid unnecessary jargon.

Technical discussions very often include a large amount of jargon. Necessary and relevant jargon can help describe the problem. However using jargon for the sake of using jargon can dissuade information seekers from asking questions. Incorrect use of jargon can confuse the situation and lead to incorrect or incompleate responses.

If you do use an acryonym or technical term provide a link to explain it or just give a short description. e.g. RAID is etc etc you can find more info HERE. Make sure you do this, especially in the Newbie section.

4. Politeness never harmed anyone

The old saying "You can catch more flies with honey then vinegar" hold true in all aspects of life. Responding with sarcasm or rudeness will often get you ignored and any responses you make in the future will carry less weight.

Rudeness and personal attacks WILL be removed and will make you look bad, people are generally rude because they don't actually know the answer or can't be bothered to look it up. As your mother taught you, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

5. Correct spelling and Grammar, and language.

This is a direct quote form "How to Ask Smart Questions"
Eric S. Raymond wrote:
So expressing your question [or answer] clearly and well is important. If you can't be bothered to do that, we can't be bothered to pay attention. Spend the extra effort to polish your language. It doesn't have to be stiff or formal -- in fact, hacker culture values informal, slangy and humorous language used with precision. But it has to be precise; there has to be some indication that you're thinking and paying attention.

Spell, punctuate, and capitalize correctly. Don't confuse "its" with "it's" or "loose" with "lose". Don't TYPE IN ALL CAPS, this is read as shouting and considered rude. (All-smalls is only slightly less annoying, as it's difficult to read. Alan Cox can get away with it, but you can't.)

More generally, if you write like a semi-literate boob you will very likely be ignored. Writing like a l33t script kiddie hax0r is the absolute kiss of death and guarantees you will receive nothing but stony silence (or, at best, a heaping helping of scorn and sarcasm) in return.

If you are asking questions in a forum that does not use your native language, you will get a limited amount of slack for spelling and grammar errors -- but no extra slack at all for laziness (and yes, we can usually spot that difference). Also, unless you know what your respondent's languages are, write in English. Busy hackers tend to simply flush questions in languages they don't understand, and English is the working language of the Internet.

I think that covers spelling and grammar.

Written by: squidly additions by ShaolinTiger
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