Asking great questions

A well-formed question helps you learn, respects the person answering, and makes efficient use of time for everyone involved. Asking the right question, to the right person, in the right way, at the right time, is a skill which requires a lifetime of fine-tuning. This page offers some guidelines and resources that the Zulip community has found helpful in this pursuit.

Where to ask your question

It is almost always best to ask questions and have a conversation in a public stream, rather than in direct messages. You’ll get better and faster answers since many people can help, and it makes it possible for others to benefit from the discussion.

The Zulip community guide offers guidelines on how the major public streams in the community are used. Don’t stress too much about picking the right place if you’re not sure, as moderators can move your question thread to a different stream if needed.

How to ask a great question

Spending some extra time and effort to carefully formulate your question is well worthwhile, as it makes it much more likely that you’ll get the information you need to move forward. There are a few wonderfully thoughtful blog posts that explain what it means to ask a good question:

In brief, to formulate a great question, you should:

  • Try to solve your own problem first, including reading through relevant documentation and code.

  • Identify the precise point on which you feel stuck.

  • Formulate a clear question, which includes an appropriate amount of context and a specific request for help.

When your question is answered, follow through on the advice you receive, and (when appropriate) summarize the resolution of your problem so that others can learn from your experience.

You can find additional helpful tips in our guide to what makes a great Zulip contributor.

Follow the community guidelines

As always, be sure to follow the Zulip community norms. In particular, check out the section on getting help before you post.