In the Help Center on the What should I do if no one answers my question? page there is some advice which I think appears in the Help Center of every site:

To get better answers, you may need to put additional effort into your question. Edit your question to provide status and progress updates.

I agree wholeheartedly with the advice in both sentences above but I think the advice in the second sentence (that I have bolded) can be followed in two quite different ways.

If you follow that advice what would the structure of your edited question look like compared to before you edited it?

  • 1
    "Status and progress updates" suggests a conversational, narrative tone, which does not make for focused, clear questions. – Raedwald Jul 14 '19 at 10:50
  • @Raedwald I think that would make the basis of a good answer. – PolyGeo Jul 14 '19 at 10:52

Ideally, you won't be sitting around waiting for an answer. You'll keep working through it at least until you're insurmountably stuck.

A good way to save everyone's time is to show what you've done so far, so they don't try the same thing. If a question is actually difficult and interesting, the process of working through the answer yourself and showing your work can help others. Personally, an example of this would be this, which while unanswered shows what I've found out so far (and wouldn't be obvious without a reasonably similar setup). Likewise, rolling in comments asking for troubleshooting results should be rolled in too.

So logically, it simply means show any new work you've done in order to get attention to your question, and help folks who might have the same issue or are interested in giving an answer save time and steps that you've already tried.

| improve this answer | |

I think that the outcome from every self-edit should be a question that is more informative, easier to read and/or can be understood quicker, so that potential answerers can think, at not much more than a quick scan, "I can probably answer that!", and then attempt to do so.

When an asker provides status and progress updates, I think that is best done by re-reading and editing improvements to their question as a whole.

Sometimes this may mean an overhaul, and at other times it may be just a few tweaks, but in both cases the emphasis is on the question being (and remaining) easy to read and understand, and preferably being as concise as possible.

What I think can make a question more difficult to read, is to leave the original content alone, and instead start to append sections under headings (often dated) like Updated, Edited, Progress, etc. Reading a question broken up like that means the reader having to merge, in their mind, the original content (some of which may be outdated) with the additions (some of which may also be outdated).

That was the way it had to be done back in the days of discussion forums and long running threads, but here we use wiki-style asking and answering which means we can remove any no longer relevant trials and errors that may distract from where what we are currently stuck. By presenting your question as one that can be read as a single flow, which can include results of earlier tests when they enlighten us, potential answerers can focus on answering rather than on trying to synthesize what is being asked first.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .