I often find myself going to new SE sites when I have what I think is a fairly complicated question that experts on the subject should be able to answer.

What I hope for is a concise answer to a difficult problem, but instead I tend to get redirects to other sites because I've asked the wrong people, indications that my questions are not very well-informed, or indicators that my questions are duplicates.

This all suggests to me that I shouldn't be asking questions if I'm not already an expert, but is this true? Should I be asking questions on an SE that I'm admittedly not an expert of if I feel the question pertains to their expertise? Or should I only ask a question on an SE if I'm already an expert on the subject?

  • 5
    Sorry to redirect you again, but this timeless piece by Jon Skeet really sheds light on a lot of the pitfalls of asking questions and how to make sure your question is well received. codeblog.jonskeet.uk/2010/08/29/writing-the-perfect-question It is really a must read if you are interested in improving your question asking skills.
    – Travis J
    Aug 13 '14 at 20:25
  • @TravisJ No need to apologize. It's a good read and very relevant to the question.
    – Zibbobz
    Aug 14 '14 at 13:12

The disconnect you are experiencing is that due to the high volume of questions on the sites, you don't have to be an expert in the subject you're asking about, rather you have to be an expert in asking questions.

Learning how to ask questions, what steps to take before asking, how to describe the problem, how to specify the exact issue you don't understand or can't solve, and how to express all of this in a concise manner is difficult.

But it can be learned, and you can find better ways to ask questions - there are a lot of resources on the internet, try a search for "how to ask questions" and improve your ability to ask questions.

  • For an answer on how to better ask questions, this is a remarkably good answer. :)
    – Zibbobz
    Aug 13 '14 at 20:10
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    @Zibbobz The "How do I ask a good question" guide that lives on each site gives a pretty good outline of what things you should think about when formulating your question. They're definitely worth a read. Go to Help -> Help Center and look under the Asking header. If it's not there just click ">> View more" and you should see it.
    – JonK
    Aug 13 '14 at 20:26

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