Recently I have had to ask a very long question. The configuration involved is fairly extensive and will require any user to spend a decent amount of time investigating. Given that I would not expect someone to answer such a question for only 15 reputation, I have put a bounty on it, but I still have not gotten too many responses. Is there a way I could have written this question better in order to receive more answers?

Here is the link

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    Well, honestly? You mentioned that the problem has nothing to do with the marshaller, but that stuff is still in your question. Rip it out, make it easier to reproduce and comprehend. Commented Dec 15, 2009 at 14:22
  • Possible dupe, or at least related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/32695/…
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Dec 15, 2009 at 14:23
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    I've edited the question with links to the code so that people can read the question itself, the error report, and then decide if they want to check out the configurations (if they are even relevant). You can roll it back if you feel having the code inline is necessary, but I think you'll get more attention if you let the reader decide when to dig into the details...
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Dec 15, 2009 at 14:49
  • Thanks for that edit, anything to make the question easier to answer. I have not yet had a chance to update the main body, i will do that now just to make sure that there is no irrelevant information.
    – Zoidberg
    Commented Dec 15, 2009 at 15:00

7 Answers 7


Sometimes people won't read all the way to the bottom of your question to find out all the details. They may have the answer, but give up reading because the question is so long. One strategy that I have used is to put an "executive summary" at the top of the question. This should boil the problem down to just a couple of sentences. Mark it as such and set it off from the rest of the question so it doesn't look like one long ramble.

Using a summary gets your question out there, right in front. People who have some insight, then know that they may be able to help and could be encouraged to continue reading. You might also want to mention the bounty in your summary -- having that message at the bottom of your question seems to somewhat defeat the purpose in your case.

  • That's a nice descriptions for the title of a question, I always try to compress my question to fit into the title. Having an summary paragraph is less effective because it's not visible on the questions page. Commented Dec 15, 2009 at 14:17
  • @gs: If you start with the summary and it's short enough, it will in fact be visible on the questions page (or as a tooltip on the main page).
    – mmyers
    Commented Dec 15, 2009 at 14:59

Shorten your question.

Format it well.

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    +1 Formatting is important. I will read a long formatted question, but not one big chunk of text.
    – C. Ross
    Commented Dec 15, 2009 at 14:18
  • Executive summary at the top
  • Bolded specific questions at the bottom
  • Don't list long files, configurations, code segments, etc inline - provide links so the question is simple and to the point, and anyone that wants detailed information can then dig into the links. (wish we had code folding on the site)
  • Try to pare your question down to the absolute minimum.
  • Break it up into several smaller problems/issues/questions if possible and ask them individually in separate questions.
  • Explain what you've tried, why it didn't work, or why you can't use it if it did work.
  • Provide only enough information to get people interested in asking you follow up questions - once they're hooked on the problem they may be more likely to spend time researching it.

At a certain point your question becomes too obscure/specialized and you won't be able to get quality answers to your question.

I think your bounty might work. Keep checking it, but also keep hammering away at the problem on your own and try to further update the question with any extra information you gather.


Whilst I'm no expert on Spring I do know that for some technologies it's hard to boil everything down into a single concise paragraph or two, and a couple of code snippets.

The important thing is that you've supplied as much of the configuration data that may be of value as you can, and because of the larger font size used by Prettify on Stack Overflow, this can make some questions look more long winded that they need to be.

I think what you've done is fine. It's a niche problem and perhaps there aren't so many eyes on Stack Overflow looking at this with the level of experience you're looking for.


If the question is very complicated and there is no way to simplify it, consider waiting a bit and putting a good bounty on it. Usually people spend more time on questions when a bounty is involved.


Edit them into short questions.

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