This is our second episode on “Level’ing Up” as a WordPress Developer and this time we are focusing on 1 specific thing. How to ask the right question, how to Google the right thing, so you get the answers you need.
One of the more interesting things brought up by Matt Cromwell that I had never thought about before was there is fundamentally a difference in how you ask for questions in a public space/forum like Advanced WordPress Group on Facebook or private support for a premium plugin.
Matt described AWP and told people asking questions to keep in mind it is full of volunteers. Don’t let the nearly 20,000 members make you think that anyone is being paid to answer your question. It is also 100% FREE help. While there are many services out there to help you, they charge. AWP and other public forums are 100% free for you to ask.
Keeping all that in mind, tone is important. Don’t be demanding or pushy or else no one will want to help you
Josh Pollock said you should ask “How much work are you going to put into bring helped?”, are you going to expect Josh or anyone else to code your answer for you? Where does that stop? Want someone to just go ahead and do all your work and not charge you a dime? Keep dreaming.
Once you have the tone down, it is important to create the proper question, or to formulate it in a way that makes sense to those who are willing to help. “It is broken, fix it” is not even a question, yet a majority of posts going online are very similar to this.
Jesse Petersen’s tip is to start at the beginning. “What are you running? Have you looked at a tutorial site?” Sometimes you may have a question about a plugin, that is okay, but if your plugin hasn’t been updated there may be some bigger part of the equation missing if that is not mentioned. The easiest answers can also come form tutorial sites, try asking the same question on Google and a tutorial site might show up with step-by-step instructions.
One of my biggest pet-peeves is seeing the same question over and over, even more-so when it is coming from the same exact person. I imagine that some people (to which I am guilty) Google the same thing over and over, which may not be a good thing. Carl Alexander says that if you are really trying to grow as a developer, copy and pasting every single time from Google doesn’t help you grow.
Every time you have a question, it means you do not know something, so it should always be a growing opportunity. I know that deadlines are tight, and sometimes you just want the answer. As Carl said, it goes against our human nature to not ask the smart people we have access to, but persevere you must. I know I am guilty of asking questions before doing a simple Google search, even to Carl and Josh, and that is me wasting a good opportunity to learn something new.
“People are missing the point of open source if they don’t open the source” – Josh Pollock