How to answer questions?

Online communities are based on people seeking knowledge, sharing knowledge and asking questions. To give something back to the community you are encouraged to help people the way you can. Unfortunately, not every answer is helpful every time.

Introduction

This recommendation is the result of a long-term observation how people asking questions really feel. It is a summary of ideas and concepts of how to improve the communication levels inside the group and the international community.

This document recommends how to react as a community member to questions and to provide the best possible experience as being a community member.

Empathy

Beginners seeking knowledge and solutions to particular technical issues often feel intimidated when surrounded with people who have been on the same path before and who know more about the particular issue than them.

Imagine you get stuck at a particular issue where your knowledge cannot solve it right away and this prevents you to continue. One way to get help on the task is to ask the community. Using search engines works until you don’t particularly know what kind of a solution you are after or results are not understandable enough for your knowledge level. Searching for something with insufficient knowledge can many times feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else. Many people lack the ability to look at the situation through the perspective of someone else. This also results in insufficient people skills.

People are not logical, unlike programming languages. Being rude is simple. Being kind and helpful can be sometimes difficult and you need to train and learn such skills.

How to give quality answers?

  • Understandable and socially valuable communication is important.
  • Recommendations must be researched. People will not learn from wrong advice.
  • Find existing solutions which address the issue and give user links with additional explanations.
  • Attitude is everything. Be nice and respectful to the one asking for help.
  • For most questions asked only pointing to search engines such as Google is not a solution. It is inefficient and doesn’t add any value of attraction to the response.
  • Being sarcastic and rude to beginners is definitely a turn-off.
  • Demonstrate knowledge prior feelings.
  • Vague, short or insufficient answers are not helpful.
  • Repeating answers are not efficient unless answer adds additional information or improves the prior answers.

Why bothering?

  • You will learn from the questions as well.
  • You will be more motivated to study a particular topic.
  • You are helping to raise the awesome factor of a particular community.
  • Being kind and helpful is very contagious. You will influence other community members through your behavior.

Optionally, share the solutions also on your blog or contribute them to the particular documentation for future similar issues if they weren’t noted there before.

What to do when the question is not good?

Thank you for reading and helping out.

See also

Further similar guides: