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Old 04-30-2008, 09:24 PM
Gfactor is offline
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Location: Detroit
Posts: 9,491

General Questions Rules & FAQs

1. Please be aware of the general rules for the Straight Dope Message Boards, which applies to all forums:
FAQ - Rules for Posting on the Straight Dope Message Boards includes how to report bad posts, copyright rules, forbidden topics, quoting other posters, etc.
FAQ - Guidelines and Etiquette on the Straight Dope Message Boards covers manners and etiquette, spoiler tags, etc.
FAQ - Technical Issues for Posting includes changing username and password, vB features and coding, etc.

2. Political, religious, or professional jabs, hijacks, and trolling prohibited. The purpose of General Questions is to get factual questions answered. In order to accomplish this we need the threads to stay on topic. We tolerate some joking, but that is generally acceptable only after the question has been answered. Please do not race to a thread to post that hilarious one-liner in response to the thread title, and don't drive by just to drop in an anecdote that doesn't answer the question. If you want to be funny while contributing to the thread, go for it. We tolerate some discussion of tangentially related factual information. We don't tolerate political, religious, professional or personal jabs or insults. In case it's somehow not clear: Trolling isn't permitted at all.

3. Use descriptive thread titles. Try to give your thread a title that summarizes what you are asking about. This makes it much easier for others to determine whether they have anything to contribute to the thread or want to read its contents.

4. Please take some time to consider if your proposed thread is really a General Question; General Questions is for factual questions only. Many threads really seek opinions (IMHO is the place), advocate a position (Great Debates or The BBQ Pit), or pertain to arts and culture (Cafe Society), deal with sports or games (Game Room), or begin a general discussion (MPSIMS). Perhaps more importantly, many queries can be solved with a simple web search. Please give your favorite search engine a shot if you can before starting a thread. By the same token, we aren't interested in hearing about how stupid the question was because a search could have answered the question. Nor are we interested in hearing how simple it was for another poster to find the answer in a search engine. If it's that simple to find the answer, go ahead and post the answer.

5. Before opening a new thread, search the archives! There are thousands of threads in GQ (searchable here), and over 3,000 questions (with answers) in the archives of Cecil's columns and Staff Reports (searchable here). Many threads in GQ never need to have been opened, and the OP could have received a complete answer more quickly by spending a little time in the archives. The search engine defaults to a search of posts no more than six months old. You'll want to include all dates to get the most complete search. Remember to change the "search by date" indicator from "6 Months Ago" to "Any Date" before you check the board archives. We encourage you to take advantage of these resources. We also have a collection of reference sites posted in this forum.

6. Try to limit the "me, too" posts. If a member has asked a question about a legal matter, for instance, there is no need for everyone who ever got a ticket to post a story. A certain amount is worthwhile to make a point (and we are a community of shared interests, after all), but too many thread live beyond their useful lives because someone wanted to share a story which is only slightly on-topic. Please exercise discretion.

7. Guesses, WAGs, and speculation. We permit some educated guessing. Truly wild guesses aren't especially helpful. We have some experts who post here. If you don't have much information, give an expert a chance to answer by waiting until a question is about to fall off the first page before making a guess. If you post a factual claim, be prepared to back it up with a citation. If someone asks for a citation, don't take it personally, we're trying to get to the facts here, and that's how it's done.

8. Don't ask others to do your homework. If you're a student with a homework assignment and you need help understanding a concept, you're welcome to post a question about it here. However, do NOT ask others to do work you're supposed to do yourself, e.g., "Here's an equation I was assigned for homework. Please solve for X." To put it another way, our members generally are happy to help you figure out an answer. Don't expect them to GIVE you the answer.

9. Don't request specific legal or medical advice. It's OK to ask questions about general legal or medical issues in General Questions. However, questions about your own specific situation should be posted in IMHO, since no factual answers can be provided except by a legal or medical professional who is personally familiar with your case. Do NOT rely on medical or legal opinions you see expressed on this board - they may be completely wrong.

10. No discussions of illegal activity. We don't allow discussions of your own criminal activity; we also don't allow discussions of how to violate criminal laws. We do allow questions about whether an activity or device is legal.

11. Read the Tech Questions post below, before posting a computer question. It explains the information you will need for helpful answers.

Last edited by Ed Zotti; 06-04-2014 at 04:55 PM. Reason: Revised 8 and 9
Old 10-14-2009, 04:21 PM
C K Dexter Haven is offline
Right Hand of the Master
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Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Chicago north suburb
Posts: 16,078
Courtesy of 633squadron:

I see an emerging standard for tech support questions posted to forums. This standard has been motivated by the explosive growth of open-source software, which is primarily supported by a community of developers:
  • Use a simple statement of the problem as your thread title: "Checkboxes don't work right in Excel"
  • State your platform
  • State which version of the platform (Windows XP Service Pack 2)
  • Give a complete statement of the problem: "When I create a checkbox in a worksheet and then try to click it, it opens it for editing instead of setting or clearing it"
  • List the steps to reproduce the problem.
  • List error messages in their entirety. Be ready to post/e-mail error logs.
  • List any documentation you've read.
  • List any steps you've tried to fix the problem.
  • If you get a reply that works for you, post a response and tell everyone.
  • If the advice you get doesn't work, post a polite reply saying that it didn't work, and be specific.

Some things not to do:
  • Don't ask for a personal e-mail. Responders may not want to do that, and you're shutting everyone else out of reading the solution.
  • Even if it is urgent, don't say you need the fix ASAP. You'll get it when you get it.
  • Don't be rude or argumentative, even if you get flamed. Just walk away.

Some things to remember:
  • Respondents are using their own time to learn about the product and help you as well. Be considerate.
  • Very few programs are intuitive or easy to use. You have to do some reading and learning to get all the ins and outs. If a respondent tells you to read something, read it. They're not blowing you off; they're trying to be efficient with their time and with yours.
  • Try the help first, and also try reading online. Microsoft software is not always easy to use, but their help is darn good and their website is first-class (IMHO). Particularly with error messages, do a search on the program's web site. This goes double for error numbers.
  • If something doesn't work the way you think it should, first read the online help or documentation to see how it's supposed to work.
Thanks, 633squadron! Nice concise instructions!

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 10-14-2009 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Combined threads -- CKDH
Old 08-03-2010, 08:01 AM
Gary Robson is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,462
(blank post to re-order sticky threads)
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