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I particularly enjoyed the Google Webmaster Central blog entry Tips for getting help with your site.

It covers how to ask questions in a public forum rather well, and I think almost all the rules apply to our Q&A engine:

  1. Ask in public.
  2. Do your homework.
  3. Be specific.
  4. Make it relevant to others.
  5. Let us know if you’ve found a bug.
  6. Stay on-topic.
  7. Stay calm.
  8. Listen, even when it’s not what you wanted to hear.

I think the only one that isn't relevant (except on meta) is #5 and possibly #7.

As for all the others, I believe we've discussed them in some detail here on meta, and I was wondering if we could somehow incorporate this advice, maybe in the "how to ask" sidebar?

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and there is also Jon's take on this: msmvps.com/blogs/jon_skeet/archive/2009/02/17/… and the latest: msmvps.com/blogs/jon_skeet/archive/2010/08/29/… – Jeff Atwood Sep 17 '10 at 15:31
I like this list better than what's on the how to ask section of the stackoverflow faq (which is about bicycles and not programming). – dlamblin Nov 23 '11 at 20:33

3 Answers 3

The way you've bolded "Is your question about programming" makes it seem that this sidebar is more about what's on-topic.

I would suggest the following

Asking Good Questions

Good questions are more likely to get good answers.

  • Be specific
  • Stay on-topic
  • Do your homework
  • Make it relevant to others
  • Listen, even when it’s not what you wanted to hear

[faq link, just like you already have it]

I would make "Asking Good Questions" a link to a more detailed page.

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Well, you've already linked to my (excessively?) detailed article... so how about including some form of my golden rule: read the question you've just written, and see whether it's the kind of question you'd want to answer.

In case I haven't made it clear elsewhere, btw, you're very welcome to take that blog post and adapt / expand / trim it as much as you like, and post it wherever you want.

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By the way, doesn't rubber ducking apply to asking good questions, too? I.e. what about "read the question you've just written (aloud), ..."? – Tobias Kienzler Sep 20 '10 at 10:36
@Tobias: I'm not sure it needs to be aloud, but it's basically the same idea, yes. – Jon Skeet Sep 20 '10 at 10:39

This is now completed as


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