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Does nobody know the difference between a question and a statement?

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Looking at the home page: Do you see a single question or problem going unanswered that begs for our attention:
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No. Neither do I.

I've been noticing a trend... More and more threads that don't ask anything and don't describe the OP's problem even in the topic. And they go longer and longer with no response because the core group of regulars don't recognize them as being in need of help. They don't look like they need help.

Thread title like:
  • Hangman in console
  • Bouncing ball application
  • Soda machine simulator
  • Time zone conversions
  • Temperature calculator


None of these indicate a problem. They sound like the titles to tutorials because they are statements about programs. They do NOT sound like problems. They don't ask questions. Look at it from our point of view... When we see an unanswered topic of "Soda Machine Simulator" why would this draw my attention as a problem? I don't care about a tutorial for a soda simulator so I don't even read it. Or, it gets read last after helping those people that post QUESTIONS about PROBLEMS if I have any free time left.

Let me be clear... We generally don't care if you are writing a hangman game or a card flipping memory game. If your problem is that you are getting an "Index out of bounds exception error" then state that in the title.

Statements like:
  • I need it to do x, y, z and I'm having trouble.
  • Its supposed to report boink and glorp but I don't know how to do that.
  • Its not working. Here's my code:


What are we supposed to do with that? What are we supposed to think about those? Because it really sounds like either:
  • I can't think for myself: Will you tell me how to design my application?
  • I can't debug for myself: Will you fix my application for me so I get a good grade?
  • I don't know how to code this: Will you do it for me?


Which means they get fairly generic responses:


If you want your threads & questions to get some attention and meaningful replies then use some common sense:

Title your thread so it sounds like you have a question or problem.
  • Compare alphabetizing routines - Sounds like a tutorial not a problem
  • Getting whacky results when comparing routines - Better

  • Soda machine simulator - So what?
  • Having trouble getting right values from decimal array - That tells us something.

  • Problem. Help me plz - Are you a total idiot? Drop out of coding now and take up baking.
  • There are more than 500,000 users on the DIC. Can you imagine if they all started threads as "Problem"?


Did you notice?
Did you see how I slipped in all those links for how to debug your own code? Please do them. An hour or two learning to debug will save you a lifetime of ridicule for being lazy - or a lifetime of hair pulling over really simple things.



And for crying out loud... Use the damned code tags people. I don't care that you're rookies. Its shown in the very textbox you posted your question in.

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There is a starting tag with SQUARE BRACKETS and an ending tag with SQUARE BRAKETS and / to indicate the ending tag. The blunt truth is that when someone can't figure out how to do that simple thing we figure there is no point trying to help them: Obviously they won't understand the help if they can't understand this.

Suggested reading before you post your first question:

1 Comments On This Entry

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jon.kiparsky Icon

05 May 2012 - 08:46 AM
Good stuff. You might think about adding esr's smart questions essay to your reading list.
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