2 min read

How to ask programming questions in just 5 steps

by
alesanchezr
Ask the right quetions, get the right answer!

First of all, please ask questions!!!!!! We cannot encourage this enough- it is the best way we have to learn. It's a great source of information to understand students weaknesses, level of understanding and learning pace. Questions are also the most powerful way to stop being frustrated.

It takes a bit of time (and patience!) to ask the right question

When working remote, you have to pay lots of attention to the way you communicate your ideas, questions, etc.

Believe me when I tell you that following these steps you will get straight answers in a matter of minutes instead of having to iterate back and forth. Here is a guide on how to ask questions by stack overflow.

1. Prepare your question

Let's compare these two questions:

1. How can I add one item to an array?
2. I'm trying to add an item to an array in javascript, this is my code but its not working (screenshoot), what am I doing wrong?

2. Take a picture or screenshot to share what you've tried

Use screenshots to keep color highlighting and formatting as you see it. Pasting in "text snippets" can cause more confusion for those trying to help you. If you do paste in text through slack, make sure to use "attach file" --> "create new" --> "code snippet".

3. Be specific

"How can I START this exercise" or "I tried X approach but it did not work, what am I doing wrong?" (and including any error messages!) will give you much better feedback than "how can I SOLVE this exercise?" - the more you break down the process into methodical steps, the easier you will be able to understand the issue as a whole.

4. Do your research

Take around 20 minutes to try and solve the problem yourself by using terminal responses, searching online, and developing a strategy for testing within your code. Finding the specific answer will help you during that problem, but creating an effective problem solving strategy will serve you time and time again!

5. Use the slack channel instead of email, or anything else

Slack is the perfect tool for this, you can even start an instant video call with the responder. Avoid using traditional less effective methods like phone or sms.