Asking questions:What I’ve learned over 10 years on Stack Overflow

I have extensive experience with the online communities (and I have addressed that issue before). The process of visibility (and then discovery) is difficult when you have millions of websites jostling for attention. Users often penalize their attention spans towards gratification (and not necessarily for “learning”) despite the best intentions.

It seems so easy at first blush: enter a few words in a text box, hit submit, and let the internet magically solve all your problems for you! But it’s taken me almost a decade to figure out what words to put in that damn text box to actually get results. I’m still learning every day in fact. Asking good questions is a seriously under appreciated skill (as is filing a good issue report for that matter). Because, first off, how do we even define what a good question is? Stack Overflow provides some guidance on the matter, listing qualities such as:

Is within the scope of the site.
Has an objective answer.
Has not already been asked.
Has been researched.
Clearly states the problem, usually with a minimal, easily reproducible example. OK, but what does something like “clearly stating the problem” actually look like traditionally? What information is relevant and what isn’t?

Sometimes it feels like to ask a good question you first need to know the answer.

What Ive learned over 10 years on Stack Overflow – UWTB

I have encountered “newbies” but people are generally lazy to research if they find a ready-made source. That defies explanation and I think it applies to all individuals regardless of their affiliation, background or literacy.

Asking questions requires skill too!

It’s a good read. StackFlow was one model, I was keen to replicate to start the Q&A “forum” but we couldn’t find a reputational system to implement. Besides, they had not open sourced their tools which made it difficult for data portability or ownership. Remember, it was the time when startups were dying off like flies.