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So You Have a Programming Question

Louis Davidson takes us through the process of asking a good question:

Over the past 25 years, I have answered a lot of programming questions in online forums, from co-workers, and from friends. It has been a while since I had been around forums, but I recently decided it was time to get back to what started me in the SQL community: answering questions. Not only is it complementary to my current job as Simple-Talk editor, it is really a great joy to be able to help other people with their problems. It is also educational to see the kinds of things other people are going through before you also go through them.

Sometimes you know the answer right away, but sometimes the question is a challenge (these are actually my favorite.) At times I have spent hours on a question, trying to figure out a solution that works, and then writing up the answer to post back. Along the way I am learning something new and (assuming I figured out a correct answer,) the question poster usually learns something too. I mean, I have been wrong a few times, at least.

It’s been a decade since I’ve haunted Q&A forums but yeah, answering questions is a good way to learn more. Still, it can be really frustrating for everybody when you get (or ask) a vague question: there’s a lot of opportunity for confusion, non-viable answers, or even people ignoring the question completely because they can’t make sense of it.