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Howto not get your Programmering Question answered

HOWTO: Not Get Your Programmering Question Answered (*)

Someday the time may come when you want to post a programming-related question on a forum or newsgroup, and you don't want to have it answered. This is a very tricky endeavor, because there are lots of helpful people on the net, trying to help even the most clueless fellow netizen. Some of these people even live by the motto: There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers (which is obviously not true). So even the most categorically trivial or horrendously misstated question faces the risk of being matched with an answer which actually makes sense. Here are some guidelines to bring back this chances to a minimum, making it almost sure your question isn't going to be replied to with an answer.

  1. Include no usefull information in your topictitle
    If your problem has to do with programming language X, using X in the title might attract the interest of people who actually know something about this language, and they might be tempted to try to answer your question. Which is exactly what you don't want.
    • Good: Need help with problem
    • Bad: Permission error when opening a socket in X.

  2. Scream, nag, whine and order around
    Nobody likes screaming, nagging, and being ordered around, so doing one of these things is an excellent way to scare off potential repliers. Here are some usefull example subjects:
    • NEED HELP!!!!!
    • Give me a solution
    • Can somebody help me... ppleeeeassseeee?!!?

  3. Do not include usefull information in your post
    When diagnosing a problem and coming up with a possible solution, the following pieces of information are often helpful or even necessary: the error message encountered and the piece of code which led to the error. Make sure you do not include them in your post.
    Even better: if you are using PHP, turn of all error-reporting with error_reporting(0); and then pretend there was never an error in the first place: "when I ran the script, nothing happened".

  4. Do not format your code
    Nobody likes reading lots of code. But to scare off even the most motivated readers, it is always a good idea to make sure the code you post is not formatted in any way:
    • Do not use indentation, spaces or tabs
    • Do not use describtive names for variables and functions. (If your code contains a call to a function named 'f' or 'fun', exclude the definition of this function and leave it as a guessing excercise for the reader to guess what this function actually does).
    • Most forums and bulletinboards have a code-tag. Using this tag makes your code easier to read by retaining its indentation. Do not use it.

  5. Have others do your work
    The answers to a lot of questions can be found in the manual. Instead of looking it up, let others do this for you. Instead of looking in the manual to see what a function encode_str() does, post a question: "What does encode_str() do?". Instead of finding out where in your code the syntax error is, post your entire program, say it contains a syntax error and let others copy/paste it, run it and find out on which line the syntax error is reported.

  6. Be impatient
    Post your topic, wait some time and then reply in your topic with great distress and indignation because nobody has replied yet.

  7. Make your message hard to read
    Using proper punctuation, spaces at the right places, capitals and newlines makes your text readable. People have trouble concentrating on a text without enough whitespace, or with too much whitespace. Not using proper punctuation also makes it harder to read your text. There can be several valid reasons for making spelling errors: english is not your native language, you are dyslectic, you are not good at spelling and grammar, etc. But there is no excuse for not using punctuation and not using whitespace.

    Here is the above paragraph again, but reformatted to induce a headache when trying to understand it:


    using proper punctuation spaces at the right places,capitals and newlines makes your text readable.people have trouble concentrating
    on a text without enough whitespace
    ,or with too much whitespace.not using proper, punctuation also makes it harder to read your text.there can be serveral valid reasons formaking spelling errors engelish is not your native language,you are dyslect ,you are not good at spelling and
    grammar ,etc but there is no excuse,
    for not using punctuation and
    not using whitespace.

  8. Make your message even harder to read
    A lot of forums have the possibility to use text in different colours and different sizes. Excellent! Make good use of this feature. Feel free to defy all rules of design you can think of. Some tips:
    • Post your entire message in bold or a large font size (the online equivalent of screaming at people)
    • Use different font sizes and different colours to make your post look extremely incoherent
    • Use a smal font size to tick off people with bad sight or small computer screens
    • Use some hard to read colour (yellow, purple, etc) to give people headaches and make fun of colour blind people

  9. Bonustip:
    Post a large fragment of code which uses other files and/or uses a database. Since people reading it don't have (access to) this files and database you make it pretty obvious you expect them to struggle through your entire piece of dumb ass ugly code to find the problem.

(*) DISCLAIMER: This article is a rant

1 blog comments below

But boy is it a beautiful rant Applause
It really annoys me when people don't give the proper details when asking for help(I've done it a few times Embarassed ).
Good on you BlueSky for making this Smile
Manofgames on Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:54 pm

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