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Old 04-11-2005, 03:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to post a question, and get the best results.

Many times I see users having trouble getting help with their various projects. This happens more so in programming forums, than with other forums due to the complex nature of programming. To aid that problem, I found this simple guide to posting questions in this forum. If you follow these steps, you will achieve maximum results!
This was originally posted by JeffCT. Edited by me.

-- Iron_Cross


Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when posting a question on these forums.

USE SEARCH FIRST

There is a pretty good chance that, unless you have some
really odd or unique problem, it has been addressed on this
forum before (or even hundreds of times before for some issues).

Use the forum's search feature first to see if there are already some good threads on the subject. It's easy to search - just click the "Search" button at the top right of the page. Or just Click here:

Search The Forum


BE DESCRIPTIVE

I cannot stress this enough. We cannot possibly help you if you simply post a thread, copy and paste your whole script and say "it has errors what's wrong with it?". Keep this in mind:

1. Explain to us what your script does (or what it's supposed to do).

2. Explain to us what exactly the error is. Is it a compiler generated error? Your own error reporting? Interpreter generated error? Or is it just not doing what you want?

3. Remember that you know a lot more about your script than we do. Don't assume we know just what it does.

DON'T USE STUPID TOPIC NAMES

Post a descriptive topic name! Give a short summary of your problem in the subject. Don't use attention getting subjects, they're not fair to other users! Things like "PLEASE HELP!" or "URGENT" make your post unfairly look like a priority over other users post who need help just as much as you. Posting non-descriptive leading in topic names just to get more reads will not be tolerated.

Here's a great list of topic subjects YOU SHOULD NOT POST by freebsd:

1) Help me
2) Hello
3) You must know the answer
4) Please help this female newbie
5) Something wrong
6) Come on PHP gurus
7) This one for you
8) Just wondering
9) This is too complicated for me
10) possible?
11) Very urgent
12) I have a question
13) Stupid question
14) Newbie needs help
15) pulling my hair out
16) this is driving me nuts
17) WHAT THE?!?!

Generally anything similar to those is unacceptable. Just post your problem.

Here is a good example of a way to post a question about ereg() method and regular expressions / validating emails

"Need ereg() regular expression help"

or even better:

"validating emails w/ ereg() regular expressions"

These are bad examples:

"I can't figure this out!"
"Stupid question..."
"Female newbie needs regex help"
"Help me! Urgent!"

It is also a good idea to post the proramming language you are using. For our example above, if you're using PHP you could make it:
"PHP/validating emails w/ ereg() regular expressions"

ONLY POST THE PART OF YOUR SCRIPT THAT HAS PROBLEMS

Please do not post your entire script in a message. To get help faster, post only the code most related to the problem you are experiencing - really try to single it out. If you have to use 2 or more posts just to fit your code in, that is probably a good clue that you are posting way too much of it and it's not going to be easy for anyone to help you pinpoint the problem, especially not having run the script themselves.

PUT YOUR CODE IN IN UBB CODE TAGS

Very often we see people post a huge ugly script right into the message. There's a problem with that - tabs and spacing don't show up properly. That makes it difficult to read!

There's a really neat UBB code built in that will format code when you post it. You can use that easy CODE button ( ) right above the box where you type your message. Or, you could use the actual tags, just place the [*code] tag (without the *) before the beginning of your code, and the [/code] tag at the end of your code. The result will look like this:
PHP Code:

Code:
// this is some easy to read PHP code 

if($your_code_is_easy_to_read) 
{ 
     people_like_it(); 
}
IF YOU GET AN ERROR ON A CERTAIN LINE, TELL US WHAT'S ON THAT LINE AND THE LINES ABOVE AND BELOW IT

It's not too helpful when you mention an error on a certain line but don't tell us what code is on that line. Because errors can sometimes be caused by lines of code above or below the one the error is mentioned on, please post those lines as well.

ONLY YOU KNOW WHAT "DOESN'T WORK" MEANS

Please tell us what your code is supposed to do and why it "doesn't work". Or if you don't feel like explaining what the whole program is, at least tell us what the offending code is supposed to do. When you come in and say "it doesn't work" or just "it has errors", that means nothing. There could be a million things wrong and no one will know where to look.

IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE ADVICE, DON'T ASK FOR HELP

Often times, people post questions about their programs with the wrong mindset from the very beginning. Soon they are receiving replies, and silently debugging their code, making no effort to even acknowledge the people helping them! It becomes one sided, and the poster isn't aware that many of the people helping them hope to learn something as well! Letting people know of your progress and how their suggestions apply (or do not apply) will not only help you figure out your problem quicker, but you'll be returning the favor to those of us who learn more by helping.

In even worse scenarios, sometimes the poster will argue back even when they don't know what they're talking about. Hey - if you know it all, don't ask for help.

When people give you free code that may solve your problem, by all means, try it out! And if it's not what you need, at least thank them.

And if people post code that is over your head, ask them for an explanation. Too many times I see great solutions posted, then the original poster doesn't understand it and goes hunting around the language manual and finds some function they think will solve their problem but really has nothing to do with their problem! The solution you are given may not always be something you are totally familiar with, so just ask for a better explanation!

REMEMBER THAT WHEN PEOPLE HELP YOU, THEY ARE DOING YOU A FAVOR

Regardless of how big your ego is, it is not someone else's privilege to debug your code. It is not their privilege to have them help you. It is yours. Remember that when people help you they are doing you a favor. You are not doing them a favor by letting them see your incredible application. Be patient, help people out by posting good descriptions of what you need help with, and not snapping at people with garbage such as "if you aren't going to help don't waste my time replying".
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Old 06-15-2005, 12:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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