Context-Free Questions Annoy Me

As a subscriber to the ausdotnet mailing list I’m regularly faced with technical questions that seem almost completely devoid of the context necessary to answer them correctly. Your typical question might start off like this “I’m trying to display some customer details in a grid and can’t format the phone number field properly”. Is that Windows Forms? ASP.NET? Framework 1.0/1.12.0? A similar variety of context-free question goes something like “my users are reporting error X, what should I do?”. So can they reproduce this error? How many users have reported it? I don’t spend 24x7 stalking you on-line, what the HELL DOES YOUR APP DO ANYWAY? Because the scope of the ausdotnet list is extremely broad (ostensibly .NET related, but all kinds of technical and non-technical questions like “what’s your favourite desk chair” get raised) there is not the usual context associated with being in a forum about a particular technology. Next time you ask a question of anyone realize that not everyone is well informed about what you are doing and how and why you are doing it. Try and give would-be answerers enough information to respond without making too many assumptions.


yep, the context-free question is painful.

this article has good (and non condescending) demonstrations of the right way to ask technical questions:

best of luck
23/07/2006 4:22:00 AM