How to ask smart questions?

This is a user-friendly community recommendation how to ask smart and efficient questions in technical groups when you hit a wall and don’t know how continue.

The following steps will help you find the best possible solutions and get useful answers.

Research the problem

Do internet research

Research your problem before you ask for help.

Look for tutorials, documentation, and similar questions asked before.

You may be able to save the time of the helper, and even if your research doesn't answer your questions, you'll be able to convey your questions in a more sensible manner.

Ask the right people

Ask the right people

Find the right channel with the right people.

Consider the complexity of your 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

Avoid sending private messages or addressing a specific person.

Questions directed to a specific person are much less likely to be answered than open questions.

Don't ask when busy

Don't ask when busy

Find available channel.

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

Be clear

Be clear

Write questions clearly and concisely.

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 sites.

Include purpose

Include a purpose

Add a reason for your question.

Information what you want to achieve will allow 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.

Don't delete your question

Don't delete your question

Your question will also help someone else in the future.

Respect the time of others willing to help you. Leaving the solutions available for others in search results, might also help someone like you.

Thank you

Say, thank you

Attitude is everything.

Expressing gratitude when your question is answered will give a much better impression about you and help to cultivate warm feelings for those solving your question.

If you've found a solution on your own, also let people know about it.

Keep learning; All experts were once beginners.

See also

Here are additional resources to study how to ask technical questions in a smart and efficient way on the internet. Each platform has its own specifics.