How to Ask Smart Questions?

How to Ask Smart Questions

This guide will show you how to ask smart and efficient questions in technical communities such as this.

Research the problem

Research the problem

Read up on the problem before you ask for help. You may be able to save the time of the helper, and even if your research doesn’t answer your questions, you’ll be better able to convey these questions in a better, more sensible manner.

  • Look for tutorials
  • Do internet research
  • Look at answers to other people’s questions on forums and answer sites
  • Find and read documentation




Ask the right people

Ask the right people

Finding the right channel with the right people is pretty important. Also consider the complexity of the problem and the skill level of the people you wish to ask.




Don't ask to ask

Don’t ask to ask

Ask your questions directly and clearly. Don’t worry about asking whether it’s ok to ask a question. Any question is welcome, but you may be directed elsewhere if the question is more appropriate to a different channel.




Ask everyone

Ask everyone

It’s not a good idea to address a question to a specific person, even if they’ve helped you in the past. Directed questions are much less likely to be answered than open questions.




Don't ask when busy

Don’t ask when busy

Group can sometimes be flooded with questions or chatter. Try to find a different channel where you can get the attention of people who’ll be able to help.




Be clear

Be clear

Make sure you write questions that clearly and concisely communicate the problems you want solved. This may include program version information and other details about the system you’re using. For sharing code use nopaste.




Include purpose

Include purpose

Make sure to include the reason for your question and what you want to achieve with the answer. This allows the person answering your question to provide the right solution even when it isn’t obvious.




Be patient

Be patient

Wait for an answer. Not all group members are available all the time, but they’ll respond when they can. Saying “thank you” when the question is solved can give a much better impression about you and help to cultivate warm feelings for those solving your question.

Keep learning; All experts were once beginners.




See Also

Issues with asking questions are not new. Here are some more resources to study how to ask questions in a smart and efficient way on the internet, specially in technical communities.

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Content of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. Code snippets in examples are published under the CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0). Thanks to all the contributors.