Showing posts tagged with asking a question

in questions, asking a question

I think I speak for most people who have done support in saying one of my biggest pet peeves is not knowing how to ask a question. From my experience, this usually manifests in one of several ways:

  • The person doesn't provide any information about the actual problem ("Thing is Y" where Y is ambiguous adjective)
  • The person doesn't tell say what is broken ("My website is broken" Customer has 25 websites)
  • The person asks to ask a question ("Can I ask a question?")

Before asking a question, you should take some time to figure out what exactly you want to ask. Collect as much information as possible about the problem, provide specifics and you'll generally have a much better time. For example, if your website is down, ask:

My website (www.foobar.com) is currently showing the error "502 - Connection to Database failed". This started happening an hour ago, can you please help?

This is a great question because it has specifics and support can quickly help you. I know what website you are talking about, I know what error it is showing, and I know approximately when it started happening. Support guy = happy.

Providing specifics as to the cause of your problem will make your support experience generally much better. Consider including the following tidbits:

  • What thing are you talking about? (Website, Service, whatever)
  • When did it start?
  • What were you doing when it started happening?
  • What errors (if any) do you see?
  • How can I reproduce this problem?
  • If there are no errors, describe the exact problem as fully and completly as possible, how often does it happen, how do you know its happening?

Along with these useful bits of information, consider exclusing ambigous words like "down" or "crashed", these words don't really mean anything in the grant scheme of things and will only delay the help you desire. Substitute these words with actual observations, "I see error Y".

Remember, the more information you provide, the easier it will be for the person answering your question to help!