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I Can Answer That!

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DIC encourages contributions of many kinds to this site - it is a community after all. You do not have to be an expert in order to make a contribution. However, if you are new to answering, or responding to, questions raised in the forums then I have some general guidance for you.

Firstly, as I say, you do not have to be an expert. There are many very simple questions asked. As long as you know the answer, and can explain it clearly enough, then go for it! However, if your answer includes some code, then please ensure that you can correctly wrap this in CODE tags. Please use the Preview Post button to check your post before submitting it.

Let's go back a step though. You must READ THE QUESTION, and all following posts. Then go back and read the question again. Only when you understand the question can you then continue to construct (and, where necessary, research and test) your answer.

If you are not sure that your answer is correct then it is time to research and test. If you are still not sure, but believe that your suggestion(s) will contribute - that is, are useful in some way - then go ahead. However, you then need to phrase your answer carefully. It should not read as though you are stating: "This is the answer!". You are not certain yourself, so you shouldn't give the (false) impression that you are. There is no harm in stating "I am not sure about this, but.."; people will most often appreciate the effort that you are making.

I want to emphasize that giving a wrong answer is not a major sin. Maybe you've misunderstood the question, or just don't know the subject well enough. You will obviously be corrected, sometimes strongly. I'm afraid you'll just have to develop a thick skin! Learn what you can from it, retire gracefully, and move on.

What is a major sin though, is to provide a wrong answer, and incorrect information, with misplaced confidence. "This is your answer!". "No it is not, that is WRONG!". Again, if you are not sure, do the research.

DIC is a "community learning" site. It requires the person asking the question to demonstrate some effort. DO NOT just post your full, coded-solution to their question. If the OP has posted some code, and you are posting it back with one or two corrections, then that is generally fine. You should still provide some written details though, or comments within the code.

One more very important point: make sure that your answer can be understood. Preview your post, re-read it, check your spelling. An answer that cannot be understood is not an answer.

Replying to

Of course, you can also reply to a question without necessarily providing an answer. Useful comments, links, or perhaps sample-code are welcome. (Irrelevant, unhelpful, etc., replies are not.)


DIC encourages your participation. People here will recognise your efforts, and guide and encourage you. Well, perhaps not guide. Let's say, point you in the right direction.


Be reassured, I am not perfect at this process myself: nobody is. We all make mistakes.

3 Comments On This Entry

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07 December 2013 - 06:23 PM
Also don't be scared to reply to questions ask by Experts (or higher). We are also learners and practicing in the art of programming. It could be that we are new to a language as well. Yes we may know 1 or 2 languages really well, and thus maybe slightly harder questions than normal. Your reply, question, or insight could be that key which unlocks the problem for us.

We'll often target an issue down to specific section of code. Sometimes use small test programs just of reconfirm the issue. We'll do are research:- ReRead that section of the technical documentation.Eg MSDN just to see if that contains a solution or a reason for that behaviour.

Then we post our question, stating what we want the output to be. What actually output, what the inputs where. What we've tried, what the results where or why it's not applicable.


08 December 2013 - 12:04 AM

AdamSpeight2008, on 07 December 2013 - 08:23 PM, said:

Also don't be scared to reply to questions ask by Experts (or higher). We are also learners and practicing in the art of programming.

This is true. Sometimes we get things wrong, and sometimes we don't explain things well enough. If you don't understand something, ask about it. Maybe I was reading too fast and I missed something, or maybe I was writing too fast and I skipped a few steps. In any case, I'm usually happy to go over things again, as are most of the experts/forum leaders/etc.


08 December 2013 - 03:51 PM
This it's a great guide Andy, thanks.
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