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I'm a fresh programmer mostly struggling with data management challenges in R and Python. So far I have found SO (and the SE network of sites) to be very helpful. Many of my questions seem to be of a sequential nature, i.e. over time I like to ask a slightly different, but similar question on the same topic.

For example, here I asked about how to reformat a CSV file, and some time later, here, I asked about how to further reformat the same CSV, but in a slightly different, and more complex manner.

What is the most appropriate way of asking questions that seem to build on each other such as these?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I don't think there's an "official" stance on this, and the answer is somewhat a matter of taste. A good starting point is the golden rule from Jon Skeet's guide to asking:

Imagine You're Trying To Answer The Question

For me a good question to answer is:

  1. Concise. Doesn't distract from the main point with extraneous details or code.
  2. Complete. Doesn't require follow up questions or mind-reading to be understood by someone familiar with the subject.

So, applying this to your question here, I think it's better to attempt to present each question as self-contained, rather than as part of an ongoing series. More people will get engaged by a question that's readily digestible; and beginning with a back-story adds weight.

My suggestion would be to compose follow-up questions as if the first one didn't exist; or at most, if you think it would be useful, add a link to the previous question for reference, as a footnote.

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