Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to Ask a Question

Sometimes on question and answer encyclopedias like Experts123, there are a lot of questions that fail to get answered. How do you make sure that your question isn't one of them? Simple. Follow these easy steps to make sure that your question isn't skimmed over.

Be specific.

Make sure you give as much necessary information as possible. It is important to not be too vague, but also not too specific at the same time. There are many questions that are asked on Experts123 that are as vague as "How do I get there?" No one knows what you are referring to besides you. Make sure you add enough information in the title of the question to give enough clarity to someone who will be able to answer it. However, don't be too specific necessarily. Try to make your question useful for the rest of the Experts123 community.

Asking "How do I get to New Mexico from Washington D.C. with my pet bird and my horses from Lubbock, Texas?" is unnecessary. That type of question can be broken up to three different questions:
  1. How do I get to New Mexico from Lubbock, Texas?
  2. How do I transport a pet bird cross-country?
  3. How do I transport a pet horse cross-country?
You don't want to overwhelm your potential answerer and you don't want people to overlook your question for being too specific.

Be concise.

When you are asking a question, you want to give as much information as possible in as little words as possible. Confusing? Well, it's just a matter of thinking through what information exactly you are looking for. Put some thought into how you want to word your question. Like mentioned before, if your question is in too much detail, break it up into multiple questions. The chances of someone answering your question are much higher if your question is shorter and more concise.

Use correct spelling and grammar.

Make sure to proofread your question. Capitalize at least the first letter and make sure you are using correct spelling and grammar. Be careful to catch homonyms because they can confuse someone looking to answer questions (ex: wear vs. where, except vs. accept, their vs. there vs. they're, bear vs. bare).

Classify your questions with the correct topics.

Choose a topic that already exists when possible by choosing from the list of topics that appear as you type. If the topic you want is not in the system, you may add it as a new topic.

Read more at: How do I choose topics for a question on Experts123?

Use common sense.

When asking a question, think about whether or not it is capable of being answered easily. Otherwise, it might be overlooked by other users. For example, sometimes on question and answer sites, students submit their homework in order to get the answers from other people.
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So now you know how to ask the perfect question, but to summarize, here are the cardinal rules of asking a question online:
  1. Don't ask more than one question per question.
  2. Think whether or not your question is worded well enough to be answered easily.
  3. Be specific about the information you are looking for.
  4. Spell check and proofread!
  5. If you have more clarifications, don't put it in the text title--use the description space below.
If you try to follow these guidelines, the chances of your questions being answered are much greater.

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