Dorward's Ramblings

Does anyone know about foo?

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Technical channels on IRC suffer greatly from people asking “Does anybody know about …?” This is a bad question.

I’ll repeat that, with dramatic emphasis, a baaaaaaad question!

This is because knowing something about a topic is not the same as knowing how to solve whatever problem you have, so when you ask “Does anybody know about …?” there could be people who do know about it, so Bob (let’s call him Bob) stands up and proclaims that he does - and then can’t help you when you ask your real question because he doesn’t know every single thing there is to know about the subject.

So, you wasted your time and Bob’s time, when you could have just come to the point.

Equally, there could be people who could help, but aren’t confident enough in their ability to proclaim themselves expert. So Alice remains quiet, because she saw what happened to Bob earlier and you never find out that someone could have helped you if you had just asked the question.

But wait! There’s more. A third group of people who could answer the question, and have the confidence in their abilities, but just don’t find “Does anybody know about …?” to be an interesting enough question to stop lurking and start answering.

There goes another lost opportunity.

You’ll get more, better and faster answers if you just come to the point rather then digging around the edges hoping to attract the attention of somebody who may or may not be able to help you.