0
   

How to ask questions the smart way (for techies)

 
 
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 02:56 pm
I've been meaning to post a link to this famous FAQ for a while. Here it is:

How to ask questions the smart way.

the authors of that page wrote:
please add next to the link, in bold type a note that we are not a help desk for your project. We get far too many queries from users who assume othewise.
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 4,181 • Replies: 32
No top replies

 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 03:03 pm
Will check out the site as soon as I stop getting 'gateway timeout' messages. Razz
0 Replies
 
Heeven
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 03:20 pm
Hmmm, this is all about asking tech questions. Methinks if I were tech-smart enough to word the question as well as he suggests, I prolly do not need the help in the first place. The read-thru of this is enough to put you off asking a Q at all!
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 03:26 pm
I tech it Heeven not be a techie, lol....still can't get onto the page.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 06:17 pm
Heeven,

The FAQ is very relevant for techies. Non techies may be able to glean information on how they can better attract the attention needed to get an answer.

the writer of the FAQ wrote:
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 06:28 pm
Cav wonders who exactly is on Craven's hit list...and I also wonder where Craven misplaced his bible? Very Happy Dang, gotta get together with you and Mrs. cav one day so you can discuss IT and 'end-user' nightmares together....
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 06:35 pm
Ahhh the nightmares. I do all the tech support for my company. My company is small but it makes up for this by having the stupidest people on earth.

Here is a bit from today's concersations:

Q "How do I sort this data?"

"Where are you at?"

"In my computer"

"I mean, what program?"

"I don't know, it says files, edit, tools..."
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 06:50 pm
Heh heh, sounds familiar. Wife has to go in on Saturday to replace the servers...in addition to the IT and support crap, she has also been asked to peek into e-mails of employees who are being let go...a job she really really can't stand, especially as one of them was a friend who was influential in getting her the job in the first place. However....now that she has seen his e-mails, his stored porn files, and saved letters between him and the new wife, she is truly in a moral conundrum regarding her job Confused
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 06:52 pm
My company is weird about email.

My boss insists that I remember his password since he can't but then every now and then asks "so, you can access my email can't you?"
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 07:01 pm
Well, I certainly don't relish your job Craven, or my wife's. Death to idiots, I say...
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 08:22 pm
Thing is, I'm an idiot to those on the levels above me. :-) There are techies that can make me look like a NooB anyday.

-----------

I should say that the FAQ above is really for techies. I don't think I made it clear enough that it isn't meant for the people who want help with their email asking the IT support team for help. It's more appropriate for techies trying to ask a software distributor for free help.
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2003 08:39 pm
Ahh...the guy who built our new comp is a natural...if he could get over his depression/anxiety disorders, and show up on time for appointments, his business may have a chance of success. He is f---ing brilliant, but tortured. An artist, perhaps? Going over the original post, I almost see something universal in the transcript...let me get some sleep and come back to it. Smile
0 Replies
 
sumac
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 May, 2003 09:18 pm
Despite all the caveats flying around here, I think I will post a brief question to this forum.
0 Replies
 
Heeven
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2003 07:29 am
Methinks that anybody who is employed to provide a service should at least have a smidgeon of helpfulness, i.e. not be snottish of those who have no idea about their particular field of expertise and who may sound "stupid" to their ears. Now I don't know an awful lot about the tech field but I am an expert in another field and when people come to me and ask "stupid" questions, those that I may think a child should know, I give them the answer they need and even give an example in order to make it easier to understand. We cannot all be experts at everything and belittling those around us who are not within our own field of expertise says little about our professionalism. You don't find other experts telling their customers how to ask a question so as to not-piss-off the servicer! It has become cool for technies to sneer at the incompetence of others who are not so technologically adept as they are. It's a running joke and while I get the joke and am thankful I am not a total doofus around a computer, it is so off-putting to many others who genuinely need help.

You seem to be a techie Craven and you're not like that at all!
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2003 08:56 am
Heeven,

That article is not about paid IT staff, it's ONLY about people who give their time for free.

Quote:


It clearly says that if their style is not suitable to you that you should use paid support.

In the world they are referring to I am like that. Have a look at Monger's signature, it's a comical way of saying much the same thing. When I ask for free help from open source perogrammers I better follow those rules if I want to get a good answer, they are usually overwhelmed with support requests and have to apply a criteria. They have so many kids screaming at them that their free time is needed urgently that they prioritize.

The article is spot on, I just happened to post it to the wrong audience.
0 Replies
 
LibertyD
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2003 09:19 am
Craven, I know what you're saying. I used to work as a techie and got so bored and sometimes pissed at people who worked with computers (end users) long enough that they should have known how to work out the simple stuff before calling IT. 98% of our calls were completely solvable in 60 seconds, well, except for the calls from people who couldn't explain what was happening -- just that their computer crashed or froze or wouldn't boot or (my favorite) the tool bar just disappeared out of nowhere. As far as programming, I never got far enough in that to be an answerer, but asked plenty of questions on a few message boards, and definately tried to find the answer myself before going for help. I think that too many people just don't realize that most tech problems are something simple and they just freak out because they're afraid of their computers.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2003 09:40 am
Not just that but most of the times they simply ask the question in a way that it can't be answered.

The above FAQ is meant to help people ask questions in a way that they can and will be answered. And it is mainly dedicated to people asking for help with programming, not simply computer woes (though there is still some relevance).

I was very surprised to see that people here only saw the tone of the FAQ as condescending and nobody recognized the helpful information it contained.
0 Replies
 
LibertyD
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2003 09:49 am
Craven de Kere wrote:

I was very surprised to see that people here only saw the tone of the FAQ as condescending and nobody recognized the helpful information it contained.


It is interesting, but I think that the reason is because, you gotta admit, a lot of techies and programmers can be condescending when someone has a simple question about a problem they're having. And from a techie standpoint, I can understand that if people don't have a clue about how their OS or computer operates, then it will be difficult for them to ask intelligent questions about their problem -- and that a lot of people simply don't see it as empowering to be able to solve the simple things themselves.

With programming, though, it seems that if someone is interested enough in computers to want to go into that aspect, that they should know to look for the simplest answer on their own before going to someone else. I think that you may be right about having posted that link to the wrong audience -- there doesn't seem to be a lot of programmers around here and people do tend to get defensive about any lack of computer knowledge they may have.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2003 10:06 am
I think it's unhelpful to be condescending to computer novices, and yes I really do think the FAQ is better aimed at people who delve in programming as opposed to basic computer questions.

Those asking the basic questions can still benefit from the FAQ if they can get past the tone. It is sometimes a simple matter of not being lazy.

To give an example, almost everyone knows that the version of Windows you use is needed to give answers about problems your windows are givin' ya. And most know what version they are running, those who do not include that detail in a tech request are, to use the tone of the FAQ, time sinks.

The FAQ said that it's not about the level of knowledge but rather the attitude one has in solving problems.

Will they simply say "HEEEEEELP ME!!!!"and expect all to be well in a bit or are they willing to help the person who is trying to help them.

I'm not saying the condescending is right, just that the FAQ is full of information that can be useful to the very basic computer users.

e.g.

Using a descriptive title like "driver fooX isn't working under Windows Xfoo" is not just a matter of style, it will help the person, but more importantly others, help themselves.

The title of the questions here are the most important keywords for Google. Having a title that describes the problem (as opposed to "HEEEELP!!!") will help people who know how to fix that problem find it, it will also help others in the future to find the answer while STFWing.
0 Replies
 
cobalt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2003 10:08 am
This is a topic I've recently been discussing in online posting forums with techie types and geeks, as well as librarians, journalists, educators and so forth. Glad you mentioned this Craven!

I've an idea that there are three types of people who have information that is useful to the masses of computer-illiterate or at least limited in their use of their own computers or online resources. Here they are and am interested in your comments, all:

1. Techie who is 'above it all': has inability to translate tech info to be understood by unskilled computer users. May be extraordinarily skilled but is either unwilling to share, unable to share, moody and it depends on the moment and the question, or just frustrated that the question is not framed in such a way that a true conversation may flow. For instance, if a question is soooooo global, or the problem at hand will likely lead to waaaay too much time spent to explain or the question betrays how very lost / clueless the person is - well the response is ignored or shows frustration.

2. Techie who is willing to share information, sometimes: This person may be as knowledgeable as the first, but has better communication skills. This techie is skilled at asking questions to narrow down the issue to the core solution, efficiently - this person is more like a teacher-sort because they realize everyone must start somewhere and they are often glad to help. But, on a bad day, or if bad timing, this techie can come down hard on the questioner.

3. Techie who freely shares: This person is either a paid professional whose job it is to troubleshoot or assist with customer service. OR this person is one who communicates as a volunteer or enthusiast and is happy to participate in dialogues and able to communicate with those limited in skills. Many of the free tech newsletters are run by such techies.

So, now that I have probably offended someone with my sweeping generalizations, hope this is of interest to some readers of this thread. My own interest has always been the linking of resources to needs, not in providing the tech information. As a teacher, my goal is to find out what a person wants to learn, find out what they already know, and use their knowledge as a way to fill gaps and point them to where they want to go. It is not really an IT (Information Technology) approach to the public, but more the approach librarians and educators use. Increasingly, librarians will be the best public resources available because their goal is to collect and make available information to the public. At present, the librarians are scrambling to deal with these issues of access and communication.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Clone of Micosoft Office - Question by Advocate
Do You Turn Off Your Computer at Night? - Discussion by Phoenix32890
The "Death" of the Computer Mouse - Discussion by Phoenix32890
Windows 10... - Discussion by Region Philbis
Surface Pro 3: What do you think? - Question by neologist
Windows 8 tips thread - Discussion by Wilso
GOOGLE CHROME - Question by Setanta
.Net and Firefox... - Discussion by gungasnake
Hacking a computer and remote access - Discussion by trying2learn
 
  1. Forums
  2. » How to ask questions the smart way (for techies)
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 06/15/2021 at 02:19:24