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Time to write something better than Asking Questions the Smart Way?


For a site we launched recently, I linked (as I often do)à to ESR’s “Asking questions the smart way” (colloquially known as “Asking Smart Questions”) for posters to the forum.

It has been years since I read it, and a community member pointed out that it wasn’t a very welcoming document. Indeed, right in the preamble it’s calling some people idiots, later it tells people to get over their softness & self-entitlement and take hacker insults for what they are, loving attempts to get you to improve, etc, etc. Honestly, I can’t remember why we point to this as a good resource.

Does anyone have a better document to help people over the hump of asking good questions on a mailing list or forum? Because I think the time for ASQ is past.


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Much as I respect ESR’s accomplishments over the years, he is not someone I would go to for social guidance and etiquette. :wink:

I am not aware of a short and crisp guide but one surprisingly good piece of content for improving overall communication is the Discourse FAQ that ships with Discourse boards (see http://communityleadershipforum.com/faq).

Another interesting post is http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-amazingly-good-asking-questions.html.

Finally, I wrote a short ebook for how to deal with disrespectful discussion that may be useful.

Thanks to for being the kind sponsor for this forum!