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June 02, 2023, 01:39:16 am

Author Topic: How to ask a good question on the forum  (Read 3005 times)

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How to ask a good question on the forum
« on: January 01, 2021, 07:35:49 pm »
There's often a bit of repetitiveness telling new users a few things when they ask their first question (things like showing prior working, if any, linking relevant parts of the question, etc). We don't intend to be mean or anything - it just helps us help you better, and when you ask a good question (and get a good answer!) it helps you fill in the gaps in your understanding. Ineffective questions don't help you like this, and can often come across as a bit ignorable to the volunteers answering your questions. We ideally want to nudge you in the right direction with each question so you can nudge yourself along in the future, not do your homework for you (hope this makes sense!). This is approach is also justified (imo) by the fact that you can replicate your new knowledge however you please, instead of however the volunteer that answers your question chooses to present it, thus allowing you to learn more effectively.

That being said, here goes :)

Things to do:
- Above all, be respectful and nice! I've definitely previously come off as immature and rude and it's very easy to do, unfortunately. The tone of your post is everything and often if you come across as a bit demanding, mean or rude people are more likely to simply click on your question and seenzone. Remember that these people are volunteers, and aren't entitled to help you out in any way, they choose to do so because they want to. Regardless, they are entitled to the same respect anyway :)

- On showing working out: if it exists, show it. We want to see how you think, and we want to help you pick up any misconceptions, discrepancies and inconsistencies as early as possible so you don't do the same thing later on. It also helps us figure out why the answer is wrong; for example, saying 'I can't solve this quadratic, here is my working out' (with an attached image of working out) is much more helpful than 'I can't solve this quadratic'. In the latter case, we have literally no way to be helpful than to prompt you as to where you may have screwed up (which effectively reduces the time taken to give you an answer). A good answer that doesn't require further clarification is the best case scenario because you only have to look at what x person has said to have your problem solved - working out goes a long way to doing this :)

- If you have a specific question you're asking about, link it! Many people will view your question, some will choose to answer, some won't. Others will want to check the question and the answer to further their own knowledge. It's easier for one person to link the question than for many others to search it up, find it, then answer it. A lot of people, admittedly myself included on bad days, will see that they have to search up a question on the internet (usually past papers), then skip the question entirely. So please please link your questions! (with pictures, walls of text or otherwise)

- In a similar vein (though this might simply be a pet peeve), link your images through an image hosting service like imgur or something, they have a special share link for forums. Downloading new files and/or opening up new windows is a tad offputting, and more importantly, less visible to people who usually skim the forum.

- Include all relevant information - self-explanatory really. Some questions are rendered unsolvable, while others will yield you a bad answer or an answer to something completely different.

- When asking a question, be specific! Questions like 'I don't understand vectors' and worse examples like 'I need methods help' or 'I don't get biology at all' are impossible to answer with the best-case scenario described previously. There are definitely tamer examples of a bad question,  but it's so important to be specific otherwise you won't get the answer you're looking for that actually helps you.

- Try not to PM questions unless they are absolutely specific to that user. Subject boards get so much more exposure and you will get an answer quicker most of the time. It also allows for constructive responses from multiple people, which is amazing :)

- Answerers will often tack on something along the lines of 'if you need clarification on anything, don't be afraid to ask' - always ask for clarification unless you are 100% clear on everything. We are unintentionally vague sometimes.

- No question is too dumb, ever. That is all.

I don't know if there's anything else I've missed, but if there is post below!

EDIT: I have missed something :(

- Under most circumstances, we'd ideally like you to leave your questions up unless they're offensive in some sort of way. It doesn't matter if your question isn't as good as you'd like it to be, perceived by yourself and/or others to be a dumb question, or possibly the greatest question in the world; the whole point of leaving questions up is so other students can read your questions and receive the same answers and advice! Removing your questions often leaves answers with no context and make the forums that bit more confusing for everyone, so please don't remove your questions! :D

« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 01:48:47 am by fun_jirachi »
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