Foundations of Effective Questions at Workplace

Andre Kurnia
4 min readOct 17, 2023

In the realm of fast pace working environment, the quality of answers you receive for technical questions is not solely dependent on the question’s complexity but also on how you frame it — Especially for you developers! This guide aims to teach you effective techniques for formulating questions that are more likely to yield satisfactory responses.

As internet usage has become widespread, it’s worth noting that you can often obtain high-quality answers from experienced users from the web. This collaborative environment is a positive development, as users tend to be more patient with beginners and their occasional missteps. However, approaching experienced users with certain techniques that I personally learnt can generally result in more productive interactions and valuable answers.

It’s important to understand that most of expertise have a genuine appreciation for challenging problems and thought-provoking questions. These inquiries stimulate and enhance their understanding, often bringing overlooked issues to light. In the other perspective, internet surfer who's on fire in their learning phase will feel pleased and grateful when their question remarked as a good question by another people.

Despite the perception that expertise may respond to basic questions with hostility or arrogance, this isn’t entirely accurate. Rather, they are averse to individuals who seem unwilling to invest time in thinking or researching before seeking help. Such individuals consume valuable time that could be devoted to more engaging questions and people deserving of assistance, occasionally referred to as “losers.”

Every people who had many experiences recognize that not everyone is interested in the technical intricacies, which implies many people simply want to use the software only. While this diversity is acknowledged, the community’s approach to answering questions is tailored to those who are actively engaged in problem-solving. This approach isn’t likely to change, as it is geared toward maximizing their effectiveness.

Answering questions on the internet is the same thing as a volunteer, where they (I called them expertise since they had experience in the thing that related with our question) allocate their time to answer questions, and sometimes, they are inundated with queries. Consequently, they filter questions rigorously, particularly those from individuals who appear uncommitted to self-help. It’s important to understand that their intent is not to be condescending but rather to allocate their resources efficiently.

Here’s the unfamous suggestion about asking, “to get rapid and responsive answers, approach questions with intelligence, confidence, and a willingness to collaborate in solving a specific problem.”

Before You Ask!

There are several things that you SHOULD do first before you put your energy and effort to send a technical question via email, post it in a newsgroup, or engage in a website chat board that might ruins your mood because you can’t handle or even control people’s responses towards your questions.

  1. Web Search: Google it first! This simple action is the easiest way to understanding what you questioned. Familiarity knowledge is important to ensure that you are responsible with what you want to ask to another member. So, make sure to utilize web search engines first to seek an answer.
  2. Read the Manual: Consult the product’s manual or documentation for guidance.
  3. Check FAQs: Look through frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the issue.
  4. Experiment and Inspect: Try to uncover a solution through hands-on experimentation or inspection.
  5. Seek Advice from a Skilled Friend: Consult a knowledgeable friend who can offer guidance.
  6. Review the Source Code (for Programmers): If you’re a programmer, consider examining the source code for insights.

When you do pose your question, it’s beneficial to demonstrate that you’ve completed these preliminary steps. This will indicate that you’re not simply seeking answers without putting in any effort. Even better, share what you’ve learned from these efforts. Those who respond to questions are more inclined to assist individuals who exhibit a willingness to learn from the responses.

Employ tactics such as conducting a Google search using the text of any error message you encounter, including both Google Groups and web pages. This approach may lead you directly to relevant documentation or a mailing list discussion that addresses your query. If not, stating, “I searched on the following phrase but couldn’t find any promising results,” is valuable in email or forum posts requesting assistance. It documents unsuccessful search attempts and may guide others with similar issues to your question and its subsequent solution.

Remember that solving complex problems often requires more than a quick Google search. Invest time in understanding FAQs, contemplate the issue, and approach experts thoughtfully. Your questions reflect the effort you’ve put into reading and thinking, which can influence the willingness of others to help. Avoid the inclination to bombard the community with numerous questions immediately if your initial search doesn’t yield answers (or yields too many).

Before presenting your question, take time to prepare it thoroughly. Well-considered questions receive thoughtful responses. Rushed inquiries often result in hasty or no responses. Demonstrating that you’ve devoted thought and effort to resolving your issue before seeking help increases your likelihood of receiving assistance.

Exercise caution to ensure you’re asking the correct question. Questions based on faulty assumptions can lead to literal but unhelpful responses. Avoid wasting your time and that of those who may respond by framing your question accurately.

Additionally, showing your willingness to participate in the problem-solving process is a promising start. Phrases like “Can someone guide me?” or “What is missing from my example?” convey your readiness to take an active role in the solution. This approach is more likely to encourage helpful responses than merely requesting step-by-step instructions.

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Andre Kurnia

Obsessed in cloud computing, Linux, tech infrastructure. Currently work as a Senior DevSecOps Consultant in Logicalis Group. Let's connect!