Saturday, October 01, 2011

How to ask questions in Forums?

You have to provide as much information as possible in your question for somebody to provide you a valid answer!

If proper information is not provided then even the simplest of question would suddenly start looking very hard for the readers. Assume of a question like this in one of our India based forums.
"What is the shortest route to reach Tidel park"
So is this an easier question or a tougher question? How do the readers know from where are you starting? How would they know whether you wanted to take a public transport or you have a private vehicle so you are expecting a short cut route?

Please remember the readers can just read the question written there and cannot read your mind as well. The same question if it has been asked something like this:
"I am planning to travel by two wheeler and need to know what is the shortest route to reach Tidel park, Chennai from Tambaram railway station, Chennai?"
 What do you think of the below question asked in a forum recently?
Help me to insert 1000 records in sql query. Its very urgent. Reply me immediately
As a reader this question is not complete enough to give a quality response.

  1. How would we know from where does those 1000 records come from? 
  2. Do they have it as a flat file and want help in writing a query to push the data into a SQL table?
  3. Do they want to generate some random 1000 records for testing purpose? 
  4. What is the table schema in which 1000 records needs to be inserted? 
  5. What is the SQL Server version in which the solution needs to work? etc., 

So now a simple question for the author is looking like a very tough question for the readers.

If the same question has been asked as:
I have a table in SQL Server 2005 whose schema is 
CREATE TABLE tblTest ( Sno INT IDENTITY(1,1), FirstName VARCHAR(10)). There are some 1000 records in a comma separated file which needs to be inserted into this table. Please note the first line in the comma separated file contains the heading which has to be ignored. Newline character is used to differentiate between each row.
The bottom-line is we need to provide the question as accurate as possible in order to attract quality response as well as save time and energy for ALL.

FAQ for posting questions in SQL Server forums:

Step 1: State the problem clearly.
How to select first 10 rows of a table for a specific category, say Fruits, in SQL Server 2005?
Step 2: Include the CREATE TABLE script for the readers to create it easily.
Goto the SQL Server Management Studio and right click on the table. Choose Script Table As > Create To > New Query Editor Window. Similarly if the table has Indexes then script that too. Expand the (+) sign near the table and then expand the (+) sign besides the Indexes folder. Now script all the indexes there as well in the same fashion.
Step 3: Include some sample data in the form of INSERT scripts. Don't just provide an image of your SQL Server window having all this information and expect the readers to type it themselves for the sake of helping you freely!

Step 4: It is always a good practice to try for a solution yourself and only when you really not able to move forward post it in a forum. So readers would ideally expect you to post the script what ever you have attempted so for.

Step 5: Along with all this, also Include the expected output for the sample data provided.

Step 6: Be polite as members in any forums are there to provide each other FREE programming advice. So forums is no place to show your EGO or Commanding Power or Rudeness! Never expect the readers to provide you the complete module/project source code just because you are new to it OR you are in an urgent need!!

Good Luck....

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