How to ask smart questions question

Ben Finney ben+python at
Wed May 27 09:07:25 CEST 2009

Carl Banks <pavlovevidence at> writes:

> On May 26, 7:48 am, Gary Herron <gher... at> wrote:
> > The proper response to a question like this has to be  
> > as anything else
> > is complete guesswork.
> Is there a Cliff's Notes version of this?
> I may be a cynic but I would think the people who ask bad questions
> are the same sort of people who won't have the patience to sit though
> this behemoth of an essay.

To the extent that's the case, then it benefits the community as a
filter, by making it easier to detect those who aren't going to read a
good essay on how to participate in a community of question-answerers.

On the other hand, I prefer to give questioners the benefit of the doubt
by not discounting the possibility that they *can* read and learn how to
improve the quality of their questions.

> And I may be a romantic but I would think most people who post this
> are really trying to be helpful and not just saying, "Out of my midst,
> vile newbie, until thou hearkenst unto the sacred words".

Posting a reference to the “asking questions the smart way” essay is,
at least most of the times I've seen it, an explicit effort to be
helpful to the questioner *and* to the community that bears the load of
finding out what the questioner needs answered — both in this instance,
and in any future instance when people who read that suggestion want to
ask other questions.

 \      “When I wake up in the morning, I just can't get started until |
  `\     I've had that first, piping hot pot of coffee. Oh, I've tried |
_o__)                                    other enemas...” —Emo Philips |
Ben Finney

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