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How to ask a good question

Questions were briefly mentioned in the general site introduction. This page gives more information and guidance. You should read it before posting your first question. Your question will be judged as if you have.

We want questions that are:

Well thought out

Writing a good question takes some thought and care. Keep in mind what we know and don't know. Unless you tell us, we can't know what's on the other end of the green wire, what the ParkFrammistan subroutine does, what your power voltage is, whether your power supply is meant to provide 20 mA or 200 A, etc. Keep our context in mind.

We can't know about all models of all gadgets out there. Don't expect us to know what the green LED on the Blorferator2000 does. You may be intimately familiar with it, but most of your audience probably isn't.

Think about what you are really trying to ask. What's the real problem? Don't ask an "X-Y question". If your circuit is drawing too much current, ask about why that might be, not how to modify the supply to provide more.

It should take some time to think about what the question really is, what information is really relevant, and how to present it. Just blurting out what happens to pop into your mind will likely result in a closed and downvoted mess.

Well Written

Neatness and attention to detail matter. A lot. Use real sentences. Those start with an upper case letter and end with a period.

Don't write a wall of text. Break thoughts into sentences, and related thoughts into paragraphs. If you're listing things, use a list. This site has formatting capabilities. Use them. Basically, show respect to your readers by writing something that's easy to read.

Don't ever, ever, use text-speak. Txt spk iz 4 lusrs. Only having a phone handy doesn't matter. It's not our problem. Wait until you have access to a better keyboard if necessary. There is no excuse.

We realize not everyone grew up with English, but there are some very basic English rules that everyone can follow. If you know enough English to write anything here, then you must know that sentences start with a capital letter, end with a period, and that the word "I" is written in upper case. Some spelling and grammar errors are forgiven when English isn't your first language, and you seem to be trying and get the other basic things right.

Include relevant details

If you are asking about a circuit, include a schematic. That really should be obvious. Reading a hand-waving description of a circuit is annoying, and rarely clear anyway. Yes, this may take more time. But, not taking the time is wasting everyone else's.

Make sure any schematic follows normal conventions, and includes component designators. It's annoying to have to say the top left resistor by the second pushbutton down instead of R3. It's easier just to downvote and move on to someone that appreciates our time more.

We realize that when you don't know the answer, you may also not know what is relevant and what isn't. At least think about it. If you leave something out, we'll ask about it in comments. You may not understand why something is asked, but answer it anyway. Absolutely never get annoyed at people asking what you think are irrelevant questions. If you were in a position to know what's relevant, you wouldn't be here asking a question in the first place.

To the point

This site isn't a conversation or a kaffeeklatsch. We don't care what you had for breakfast or what the weather is wherever you are. Stick to the facts and what exactly you are asking about. Avoid long-winded pros.

We also don't use greetings here like "Hello" or "I hope you can help me", nor closings like "thanks for your help". Such statements convey no useful information, and just waste the time of those you seek answers from. All questions automatically show who wrote them and when, so there is no point repeating that information.

Instead of thanking people, upvote good answers.

Fits the site

To start with, questions need to be on topic. They also need to fit with the Q&A format:

  • Questions must be reasonably answerable.

    Open-ended questions don't fit this site.

  • Don't solicit discussions.

    We don't do discussions, so questions that solicit discussions don't fit here. This includes speculation and many "what if" questions.

  • Not opinion-based.

    We need answers that can be judged right and wrong. Multiple answers competing on unmeasurable opinions don't work here.

  • The answer can't change frequently.

    This site doesn't work if you get some good answers, but those answers are wrong or useless a week, month, or year later. This is one of the reasons shopping questions are not allowed.