How to ask good questions

You run into a problem or you just can’t figure out how things work. This is where you want to start asking people in our community for help. Here are some hints on how to ask good questions where people are more willing to spend time to help you. We care about our people in our community and ask you to please follow our Code of Conduct when you ask questions.

Do some research

Where can I ask questions?

  • Asking directly in our chat
  • Ask questions in our Discourse instance and place the question in a fitting category, the Community Support category is mostly a good start.

Just from some experience: Everything which can be shortly discussed is a good fit for a chat. The content in chat has mostly a very short Time To Live. If you have bigger topics or more complex issues, I would suggest using Discourse instead. It keeps it focused on a topic, can survive days and months and the information is easily accessible to others.

Compose questions in Discourse

  • Please! Do not spam our system with the same questions all over the place just hoping you get a quicker response
  • Provide information about your goals and use case
  • Tell us which version you have running, OpenJDK, operating system, OpenNMS versions
  • Use a short and useful subject line. Think it this way, there are probably others with a similar question. Make it easy for them to find it.
  • Tag your message to make it easier for others to find them.
  • Summarise your problem before you going to explain all the details.
  • Try to make a clear description of your problem.
  • Make it easy for others to help you by adding relevant information to your question like:
    • What is the OpenNMS version you run or branch you try to compile?
    • What is your operating system and what version is it?
    • What is the version of your installed Java Development Kit or the version of Maven you have running?
    • If you get error messages, add these error messages in your post.
    • Explain which steps have you done to make it easy for others to reproduce your problem.
    • What have you done so far to fix the problem, what have you searched on the internet?
  • If you want to share large configuration files use a paste service. We have a collection of links to free paste services in our toolbox.

You asked your question, now what?

  • Be patient, people who live in different time zones have work- and family life.
  • If you don’t get a response it can be, the answer is unknown, or your question was not understood. Posting an amended question could produce a better result.
  • Your problem is solved, please post back to the community if the suggested solutions worked (or not). If you find a solution please share it with others.

Try to avoid the following things

  • Avoid cross-postings with asking the same questions in multiple categories
  • Don’t scream at us using ALL CAPITALS, it is just hard to read
  • Avoid poor subject lines like:
    • any experts around here?
    • <Name of person> EMAIL ME!!!
    • need help please
    • it does not work
    • too much XML
    • Pleasessssss
  • Don’t just say hello in chat. Imagine calling someone on the phone, going hello! then putting them on hold… :woman_facepalming:

Kudos to a very old article Good Post which was used to write this article.