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"It doesn't work." That's not good enough!

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Every one of us that reads these forums frequently sees this. You get a post explaining requirements, maybe some code, and then a variant on the phrase that makes my blood boil when no context is provided: "it doesn't work."

There's many variations on it:
"It has errors"
"It doesn't run"
"It fails"

But they're all the same. Because they tell us nothing!

This is what boggles me, though. I understand that you may not be well versed in forum etiquette, or maybe English isn't your first language. That's why I don't snap on spelling mistakes or a first time failing of code tags.

But for [insert deity here]'s sake, why wouldn't you post the damn error message?

I'd think you would want to provide as much information as you can to help us help you. But no, you've got to make us pull it out of you, wasting both your time and my patience.

We may be experts, but sometimes these errors are tiny. The difference between a ")" and a "]" may not be immediately apparent buried in 200 lines of code. But your error message is going to tell us exactly which line the problem is on, and at the very least give us some idea of what's wrong. It's like the difference between searching for a needle in a haystack or a handful of hay. The latter is far easier and faster.

So, if you have error messages, copy and paste them verbatim. If you're worried because it has a directory or server name that you don't want to share, edit that, but everything else we need. Line numbers help as well. If you're not posting your whole code, adjust the number. If it occurs on line 595, but it's the fifth line that you actually posted, tell us the error happens on line 5.

And for those of you that don't actually have error messages, you're not off the hook! "It doesn't work (right)" still isn't good enough! We don't know what it's doing or what you actually wanted it to do. Provide the desired behavior and the actual behavior, because most of us aren't willing to fire up our IDE for every little task, even when you give us full code.

What I'm saying is, don't make this harder on us. We're not paid. We're doing this because we feel like it. So making it hard to help you is a good way to make us ignore your posts and go on to someone else willing to make it easy on us.

18 Comments On This Entry

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21 January 2011 - 04:45 PM
I'm actually surprised that when you register that it isn't required that you read something of this sort, but I agree


21 January 2011 - 05:02 PM
Posted Image


21 January 2011 - 05:03 PM
Actually its stated in a bright red box and ghosted in the text box for every thread a person starts.
To the people that are that oblivious, I generally suggest they resign from the course while they can get their money back and switch to baking.


23 January 2011 - 02:04 PM
I don't want someone baking for me who won't bother to read the recipe either though


23 January 2011 - 07:20 PM
Fantastic. Pure awesome.


27 January 2011 - 06:20 AM


18 February 2011 - 03:34 PM
To anyone with the potential to be a decent programmer, if it isn't at first, it should at some point become extremely obvious how critical this is to do.


29 March 2011 - 05:01 PM
Being the studious little (6'4") nerd that I am, I was well aware of this before I made my first post. However, the majority of the people who seem to do this generally have poor command of the English language, and are generally the offending posts are their first foray into the forum, from what I have seen. They are stereotypical "if at once you don't succeed, it's someone elses fault, and ergo, someone elses problem" types. It would be interesting to see the ratio of how many people post in the new joiner section, compared to the people who come here to shirk their homework off on us. . .


06 August 2011 - 11:51 AM
Hear hear. :)


21 November 2011 - 07:50 AM
not working properly


04 March 2012 - 01:04 PM
Really awesome! Thanks :bigsmile:


25 March 2012 - 10:14 AM
And then you think back to the first day you opened a book in programming (Java, c++, anything...) and realized that this is tough and it's going to take a lot of help to learn it. Including visual aid.

I am a professional MMA fighter and trainer. If I put you in a cage to fight someone and tell you "throw a power 3!" you will never know what I am talking about. And if I gave you all kinds if riddles so that you can figure it out, you will probably get knocked out before you figure it out. But if I pulled you aside and told you. A power 3 is just a hook that is thrown by re-caoiling your body after throwing another punch with the other hand (like a straight, or jab). There's your explanation, now let me show you how it's done (And I act it out). And now, I want you to repeat it 100 times a day. Finally I want you to spar me and throw nothing but that particular punch....By the time you fight, when you hear me in the corner say "power 3!" you will execute it w/o hesitation.

We, rookies, are learning this because we love it. And one day we will also be experts like yourself. But before you call a rookie lazy or accuse him for trying to get free code, remember when you were a rookie and you needed help too. Right now, it may just take a hint for you to get what is going on, but when you started the answer could have hit you right on the kisser and you would have missed it.

If you dont like helping dont answer their cries for help. You are not obligated to do so.

p.s. However, I do thank you if you ever helped me

Curtis Rutland 

16 May 2012 - 01:25 PM


We, rookies, are learning this because we love it. And one day we will also be experts like yourself. But before you call a rookie lazy or accuse him for trying to get free code, remember when you were a rookie and you needed help too. Right now, it may just take a hint for you to get what is going on, but when you started the answer could have hit you right on the kisser and you would have missed it.

I'm not sure which article you read, because I'm not saying anything about rookies begging off "free code". This is about them not providing the details they need to to get help.

Also, you've got a pretty high opinion of the average "rookie" here. A lot of them aren't learning this because they love it. They're doing it because it was a decent job for them. You don't see it as much as we do, because we remove some of the worst posts, but there are literally thousands of registered users on this forum with exactly one post; their specific problem. They're not doing this stuff because they love it, they're just finding the easiest way to fix their problem.

Now honestly, that's not a reason not to help them. But they make it harder on us. We want people to engage; to make this interactive. Not just "i have an error pls fix it for me."

Curtis Rutland 

16 May 2012 - 01:33 PM
And just in case someone else lands here, there's a follow up article here:

"It still doesn't work!"


12 September 2012 - 02:50 PM
One thing to say:


25 September 2012 - 03:35 AM
This certainly gave a beginner like me an insight on what is required and what is not allowed. From now on, if I have any errors, I am certainly going to make sure to print screen them and post it here.

*STANDING OVATION* to you, sir :)



10 March 2014 - 05:21 AM
it doesn't run


12 September 2014 - 07:20 AM
I must say that there is a greater need for detailed and thorough definition of one's error/problem/challenges whenever we as learners want to get attention. I am a very big fan of miniaturizing complex code with simple definitions of problem arising. I feel that in order for we(learners) guys to get quick response and nail-hitting attention, there is a greater need for us to be as simple and clean as possible, so that we don't get things mixed up, and thus in the latter end, end up compounding our problems.I also don't see the need to bother other human beings with all our codes, which at times will take time for anybody to understand and so i feel we should be able to express our difficulties in simple and straight forward letters. Or better still, we can re-package our complexities into a simple problem for the great good. Phew! Very lengthy in deed! Thanks to this great community for their assistance in every little way.
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