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Real World Example
I'm trying to pass a connection from a Socket.IO server to WebRTC. The documentation for WebRTC's javascript API's is difficult to come by. I feel like "How do you establish a Data Channel Connection between two peers via WebRTC?" is a pretty specific question with a pretty definitive answer, but the inevitable:

"What have you tried?!"

"Come back when you have some code!!"

"God, why didn't you make a fiddle you incompetent newb?!" (irony intended)

will:

  1. Get the question downvoted to oblivion, and
  2. Not help me solve my problem.

That being said, I feel like this applies to any niche question. Especially at the forefront of technology. To my knowledge there are only three published WebRTC examples (cubeslam and WebRTC Experiments, and HTML5 Rocks) that are doing what I'm trying to do (not the exact same thing, but peer-to-peer data connection via javascript in the browser).

I could just copy-pasta part of their code base to make a "valid question", but IMHO it would be more disingenuous than just admitting I don't know how to create a new WebRTC()-esque object in JavaScript. Especially since those examples consist of thousands of lines of code, and I don't even know what I'm looking for (i.e. var blah = new WebRTC()).

TL;DR Here's My Question:
So on that note, is there a way to make this a valid SO question, or should I keep fumbling about in the dark for a few more days in the hopes that I can make some sense of it on my own?

I'm not against further study before posting, but I'm always open to learning from people who know what they're doing, and find the SO Q&A format more valuable in understanding than the generic tutorials. Especially since I can comment, ask for clarification, etc...

FWIW I tagged this new user, because although I've been on for a little while, every time I have a "good" question to post, I've had this uncertainty since the beginning. After a few beat downs, you get very hesitant. And then it's specific boring syntax questions like, "I jacked up some VBA script, can you spot my typos?"

So I guess this applies slightly more broadly, in the sense that when are more open ended questions ok, and when are we relegated to playing Where's Waldo's Semicolon?

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irony. Began typing my question into SO. Someone else asked same question with same question. Found answer immediately. :) –  Jason Nichols Sep 17 '13 at 0:33

2 Answers 2

Not all questions require code but it is heavily preferred if they can. If you have absolutely nothing to start with, that is a little troubling... but honestly as long as you show some research, I don't think people will flame you down. Maybe include a What I have tried section and even if there isn't any code but links you found that you tried but didn't help, you could post those. I would be specific as to how those links didn't help you though.

You said you found examples so I would try tweaking the code there and if things still don't work out, post THAT code and say how and why it's not working. Key thing again is be specific -- are you getting errors, is it not doing what you want? If it isn't doing what you want, be specific about what you want and what you have tried to tweak so you could get that.

It sounds like you've tried/looked up a lot of resources though and I guarantee if you put in that much effort, I am sure someone else who is interested in WebRTC and is unfamiliar with it is having the same problem so it would be worthy of an SO question.

share|improve this answer

In my experience a little research goes a long way. SO isn't designed to be your sole resource, its meant to be a place to bring specific questions.

So, research until you have a grasp on the concept and know where to start, and then if you still need help, bring what you have to the table and ask a question. In the long run I think you will be much better served by this approach. You'll learn more along the way, SO will get a better question, and you will receive a better answer.

Everybody wins.

If you have researched it to death and you're still at an impasse you can always break it down into its component parts, and ask specific questions about the individual pieces.

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2  
I'm at the point where I'm e-mailing the authors of the respective code bases for help, because like I said, each "simple" app or wrapper is a thousand lines or so. –  Jason Nichols Sep 16 '13 at 21:56
1  
@JasonNichols That's not at all a bad thing, or even a last resort or desparate measure! Mailing lists exist exactly because users need to be able to get in touch with developers. If they don't want to hear from you, they'll let you know. Most mailing lists are archived, and mailing list archives are a great way to learn more about a system. If nothing else, the developers will realize that they need to produce more public documentation (or have to answer more questions). I wish more people in general realized that "reading the spec" and "getting on the mailing list" are good things! –  Joshua Taylor Oct 22 '13 at 0:17

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