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Old 05-26-2011, 07:58 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: 'Murica
Posts: 795
Default A quick guide to asking questions in Computer Forums effectively

First of all, welcome to our forums! Our members volunteer their time here to help people out with problems big and small and are always eager to welcome newcomers.

In order to gain the maximum value out of your visit, we have a few suggestions to help you formulate your questions in a manner that will save time and effort for all of us.

Research your problem.

You might find that questions are more readily answered if you as the asker have performed certain basic tasks ahead of time. You may find the answers before even posting, and many times you will be otherwise asked these questions right away:

Have you opened up a search engine and made a basic enquiry into the question at hand?

Have you searched our forums for answers to your question?

Have you consulted the applicable manual(s)?

Pick an appropriate venue.

Before posting, it might be a good idea to consider which forum and sub-forum would be most appropriate to post under. This ensures you get seen by the people most likely capable of helping you with your problem. If you are in doubt, pick the one you think best fits the question. Our friendly moderators can and will move your thread if they deem it necessary.

Use a smart subject line.

Creating a post with a topic line such as 'Help!' or '[name] sucks!' is not likely to attract the kind of people willing to help you with your problem. Write your subject line to describe the problem: '[name] [causes this fault] [when I do this]'

Help us help you.

When asking your question, it is nearly always a good idea to be as thorough as possible when giving your particulars: list your operating system, hardware, and any specific software used when the problem occurs. Use model numbers, software versions, etc.

Tell us what you have tried and what did not work. Mentioning what you have already done to research the issue will go a long way toward earning you a quick and courteous reply. Sometimes getting the answer is as simple as learning which key words will narrow your search down appropriately.

Ask the right question

Ask the question you want the answer to. Don't beat around the bush, and don't try to skirt around the rules to ask a question that is obviously out-of-bounds: we don't do homework nor do we condone illegal activities (stealing software is illegal... really).

Being up-front and honest in your question will result in us providing honest and up-front answers.

Do unto others...

Speak courteously: our members are generally as nice to you as you are to them-- if your post is short and rude, then you will likely get short and rude answers, and little help.

Use appropriate language and take it easy on the slang. Sure, certain computer terms and abbreviations will likely be recognised by all, but otherwise, spell things out.

Don't use txt-speak, MiXeD-cases or all UPPER-case (that's considered shouting). If you do, you might not like the replies you will receive. Playing with fonts, sizes, and colors are not recommended, either.

Good grammar isn't an absolute necessity, but it helps. We are actually pretty good at spotting and accommodating for non-native English speakers, but it doesn't hurt to mention that if you feel uncomfortable with the language.

The more care you put into writing your question (and replies), the more effort will be put into helping you out.

Patience is a virtue

Don't bump your thread two hours after you post. Some of our members only visit during certain parts of the day, or only certain days of the week. Give them time to find and evaluate your question.

Tell us what worked!

Sometimes people come through, ask a question, get their answers, but never report back. So then the next time someone has a similar problem, they have to post again, not knowing what exactly solved the issue. Be courteous and tell us how things went.

When all else fails

We understand that your problem might be very vexing. We all have experienced similar issues and have had to work through them. We were all new to this computer thing at one point or another and we are continually learning.

Sometimes there are just no easy answers; and sometimes we might have to find the answers out for ourselves.

If you don't get answers here, but you find them elsewhere, or maybe you have to experiment and come up with your own answer, do keep us in the loop! Your hard work may save someone else a lot of grief.

Or, you may run into the problem again and having the answer here in the forums will save yourself some extra work the next time around.

Again, we wish you welcome to our forums and Happy posting!

Civility, Substance, Subtlety, Style: Success
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:03 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 364
Default Re: A quick guide to asking questions in Computer Forums effectively

Excellent post Dngrsone!

I will add that many people find it irritating when someone asks a question but isn't willing to spend much effort learning. Don't hesitate to ask questions, but be willing to take the effort to try and understand the replies and be willing to research on your own. I personally am willing to put a lot more effort into helping someone that is obviously willing to spend the time to read and put effort into understanding.
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