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I am using Stack Overflow since 7 months. Last week, I introduced Stack Overflow to some of my colleagues, and they showed great interest.

They started posting questions; after two/three questions posted by two of colleagues, all their questions were down-voted. They called me and showed their down-voted questions to me.

I told them that I even got down-votes, and then I decided to give tips to be considered while posting a question.

  • Post the code you've tried.
  • Read the FAQ.

Are there other tips that could be given to my colleagues?

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Please post links to the questions which were downvoted. – John Saunders Mar 20 '10 at 7:20
up vote 7 down vote accepted

How to ask questions the smart way is a good general-purpose article to read.

In a nutshell though:

  • Search for related questions first. The question you don't have to ask at all is the best kind.
  • Make sure readers have enough information: don't be vague, and post code where you can. A short but complete program demonstrating the problem is incredibly useful.
  • Be polite: remember that people are offering to help you out of their own time. Invest some of your time in making that as pleasant an experience as possible. This includes correcting spelling and grammar mistakes to a reasonable extent.
  • Read your question before posting it, putting yourself in the position of potential answerers.

EDIT: I've written up my own guide to "writing the perfect question" which may be of interest.

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Is it possible to mirror the first link somewhere where it will be less likely to disappear/move? Currently, at least at first, it looks dead, although it's still there at the moment. Plus, that's a lot of content to dig through. Something more concise? (And this one I hear isn't too shabby.) – Jared Farrish Feb 25 '12 at 16:44
@JaredFarrish: It works for me straight off... I suspect it's been there for many years... – Jon Skeet Feb 25 '12 at 17:15
It has been (since 2004), it would just seem a shame for it to be lost. It appeared munged when I first viewed it, which is what made me think of that. – Jared Farrish Feb 25 '12 at 17:21

I realise you may not be a native English speaker, but basic grammar can make a big difference to how your question is perceived. In particular, don't end all your sentences with an elipsis (...). It gives the impression that you don't really know what you want to ask, and haven't really thought it through. For example, in this question, every sentence you've written should end with a single full-stop/period (.).

I have seen many good questions on Stackoverflow voted down and even closed due only to poor grammar and spelling. I've often been able to completely reverse that by editing the question to fix basic grammatical errors.

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This article on the Public Library of Science Computation Biology blog was recently brought up as a good resource for people new to any online community.

It's aimed at scientists, but what it says can (and does) apply to anyone.

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Interesting resource. – Jared Farrish Feb 25 '12 at 17:32

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