Ten steps to getting your question answered on a tech forum.

  Chronos the 2nd 13:26 11 Feb 2013

I wonder if this could be stickied?

  1. Before you even go to a forum, think through what your problem is. Write down how you are going to describe it. Think about it from the other side - what would you need to know if a stranger came to you and asked a computer question? Write down any error codes that appear on your screen. Gather all the system information that seems to bear on the problem (see how at this link). Sometimes it even happens that by thinking through the problem, you come up with the answer yourself.
  2. Place your question or problem in a forum that is relevant to its subject. That may seem obvious but anyone who has experience with forums knows that a lot of questions show up in the wrong place.
  3. Select a title that briefly and accurately describes your problem. A title like “Help!” or “Computer won’t work” will often get ignored. Almost any problem can be titled with a few key words that will raise interest in somebody who is familiar with the subject. A corollary to this is to avoid using all caps or a lot of exclamation points. Something like “HELP!!!” turns many people off.
  4. In the post, briefly describe the problem in a paragraph. Leave out unnecessary details. Save everybody time by listing any solutions that you have tried but didn't work.
  5. Next, describe relevant system details. For example, it is essential to designate your operating system and type of computer and any components that might be involved in your problem. List any error code that has been displayed. Be prepared to provide more details if asked
  6. Tell what you were doing when you encountered the problem. If it is a reproducible problem, list the steps or computer operations that cause the problem.
  7. List any recent software you have installed or hardware changes you have made. If you have updated any drivers recently, also list that.
  8. If requested, be prepared to list all the Windows and software updates that have been made recently.
  9. Be courteous and thank whoever is helping you whether you get a solution or not. Somebody is giving you their time and expertise for free. You may want to come back to the forum and it pays to be friendly.
  10. If a suggested solution works, be sure to return to the forum and report your success. It is the least you can do to return something for the help you have been given. It will make you welcome in the forum the next time you go there for help.
  johndrew 13:54 11 Feb 2013

Well done. This should be 'stickied' and included in Forum Rules!!

Another little suggestion would be that included in being courteous is saying 'thanks' for any help offered as well as ticking the box when completed.

  Ian in Northampton 13:55 11 Feb 2013

Chronos: that reads very well - nice work. Some repetition of reproducing error codes, but apart from that...

Does the forum have a sticky facility, then?

  Chronos the 2nd 13:57 11 Feb 2013

Not much chance of getting it stickied but I will try and bump it to the top each day. I agree with the tick, unfortunately we are not allowed a edit function so can not add that, so hopefully your post will be read also.

  Batch 13:58 11 Feb 2013

Chronos, I echo your sentiments but I fear it would be to no avail, although I would also add "11. Learn to write proper English using punctuation, sentences and paragraphs appropriately".

I have to say that with some of the postings I have to bite my tongue (or the forum equivalent thereof) as I often feel like saying something along the lines of "Take the equipment back to the store where you bought it and tell them that you are too stupid to own a computer".

  Chronos the 2nd 14:01 11 Feb 2013

Ian in Northampton

Does the forum have a sticky facility, then?

I believe it does as the FE and Matt Egan had stickied posts in the past.

  Woolwell 14:03 11 Feb 2013

johndrew - They don't read the forum rules.

I think that this sort of thing has been mentioned before but ends up by the wayside. If I remember correctly FE was going to write a forum guide.

Batch - I could add to that!

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:05 11 Feb 2013

If only it were so!

In the meantime we'll just have to stick with being mind readers :0)

  Chronos the 2nd 14:05 11 Feb 2013

Learn to write proper English using punctuation, sentences and paragraphs appropriately".

As many posters here are foreign or English is not their first language, I don't think you can insist on perfect English spelling,grammar and so on.I know my written English fails me at times, but leaving school at fifteen meant that I did not learn as much as I should have perhaps.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:11 11 Feb 2013

You mean

you don't speak proper English like what I do.

I agree with Chronos, for a lot of people that post on this site English is not their first (or even second) language. never mind the technical jargon that comes with the IT industry.

  spuds 14:21 11 Feb 2013

Not wanting to put a damper on this, but haven't the suggestions in the intro been suggested in some form or similar manner before, and come to very little?.

Some people can only describe problems in the way they see, or experience them, possibly based on how computer savvy they might be, and perhaps not wanting to make a fool of themselves?.

The grammar subject as also been aired on this forum many times, and perhaps we all know how those discussions end up?.

Woolwell as mentioned that the FE was going to write a forum guide, so when this appears, it might be a case of not only explaining how the forum works, but how further contributions might make it simpler and/or better, without getting to off putting ?.

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