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I'm currently hacking my way into C++ because I want to learn about using the JUCE library to create some basic software. The C++ community is much smaller than, say, that of PHP or Flash, where people are falling over themselves to give good answers. I know that nobody likes answering homework questions, but when there are only a small number of community members, it must be hard to strike a balance between getting noobs on board at one end while pushing in deep at the other end. Asking "noob" questions when existing "noob" questions are much more advanced is daunting, so,

How should I ask for help without alienating my "leaders"?

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migrated from Feb 1 '10 at 15:10

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

This is a general question about how to integrate oneself within a community as a beginner, and probably has no place on Meta, but in the interest of helping out a noob:

The best way to get help from a community that you've just joined is:

  • Listen in for a long while before asking questions. If you don't have a good feel for the community and the predominant personality types, you're liable to get burned, and people may not help you on principle.
  • Be overtly humble - Don't overburden them with, "Sorry, I'm new, Please help, I just got started, I don't understand" but make sure your questions and responses are not of the "know it all" variety.
  • Be concise - try to get to the core of the question quickly so they can zero in immediately on the problem, or ask you relevant questions to get to the core. Don't babble on about irrelevant discussion.
  • Don't take anything personally, even if it's meant personally. Keep in mind that you're there to get information from people. They may be rude and inconsiderate, but if you really want to know what they know, let the snide remarks and comments roll off your back as long as they are still providing you with good information. Be professional about it - you can learn a lot at the hands of an abusive, recalcitrant teacher, and it won't matter in 5 minutes or 5 years that they insulted your lineage - they are simply words on the internet, and not even worth the energy it took to display the characters on your screen.

But keep in mind that there are a lot of other forums out there - pick one that caters to people new to the language, and just listen in to the more advanced forums so that it's easy to 'graduate' as you improve.

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Remember to be humble even if you are an egotistical jerk. They won't know the difference. :) – ChaosPandion Feb 1 '10 at 16:10

If you feel uncomfortable with asking beginner questions for your specific community then ask it at Stack Overflow until you build up your confidence. In general, I feel that smaller communities will be more than happy to help. If they weren't I wouldn't exactly call it a community.

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