Tips on Asking and Answering Questions
Last updated:
8:40am Jul 22, 2017

Question? and Answer?

Its logical to assume that a question should receive an answer. But many times the question is not answerable as first stated. Someone might ask the question: 'I installed the product, but it doesn't work. Why not?' This question could only be responded to with another question or series of questions: 'What product specifically were you trying to install? Did it produce any error messages to the screen? Or to its error logs?

A good answer is valuable. But a timely response that leads a questioner to an answer is more so. Sometimes this back and forth ends abruptly - seemingly without a resolution. The questioner, after the responding questions provoked them to look in the error log, might've discovered their answer on their own and moved on, not bothering to update the question as to their resolution. We are not the center of their world.

So, while a good explicit answer that allows the questioner to resolve their issue, and allows others to learn from it, is the cleanest/simplest result, they will be a subset of all questions and their responses.Question-Answers-Comments Structure

With all the above said,  TIBCO's community website structures the Q&A experience as a series of answers to a question.  Answers are not dialog.  Answers are rated as to their possible/probable veracity.  If the questioner or a moderator,  acknowledges one of the answers as a 'best answer', then that answer will appear first. Following it, will be all other answers, ranked descending by popular vote, then by the answer's creation date.

Question 12/20/2000 13:34 Comment          
  12/20/2000 13:50 Comment          
      Best Answer Answer 1 01/15/2004 08:00 Comment  
          01/15/2004 08:30 Comment  
          01/16/2004 09:30 Comment  
           Votes: 5 - Answer 6      
           Votes: 2 - Answer 3      
           Votes 0 - 01/01/2001 04:00 Answer 2 01/16/2004 09:30 Comment
            01/16/2004 19:30 Comment
        03/15/2001 06:05 Answer 4    
        03/15/2001 06:32 Answer 5    

Comments can be made on the question or on any of the answers. They are sorted descending by creation date.

So, to make the most of this structure, dialog with comments, not answers.


Asking a Good Question

First of all, a good question IS a question. An opinion is not a question. Sometimes folks will just post some code.  No question, no explanation as to what the problem was with that code.  That Non-Question will probably never receive a response other than "What?".  

A good question is one that provokes a response from the audience of answerers.  Here the rule of thumb is:  put in what you want to get back.  A loose, ill conceived question, without backing evidence,  or rigor of thought, will not interest most to give a robust answer to.

Prove to the reader that you have worked at putting the question together by providing screenshots, error logs, any other evidence that you could find.

  • What's your use case?
  • What Products and Versions are you using?
  • Provide log files, stack dumps, relevant configuration files. Attachments are just fine.

One Warning:  Don't post proprietary or sensitive content.  This website is a public space.  Your Question will be viewable by the entire internet.

Remember, most folks on the TIBCO Community site are not paid to answer your questions. They are users just as yourself.  So, be polite and do your due dilligence.

Use English if at all possible.  The largest number of community members read and write English to some degree.  But, if your English isn't good enough,  try another language - French or Spanish are possibilities.


Responding to a Question

The best advice is the kind of advice you would give to someone sitting next to you at work.  You can't do their job for them, but you can listen and offer advice on how they should proceed. Its great if its a simple question, and you can give them a simple answer.  But many times, the problem is more obtuse.  So you're advising on where to look for more information, how to read an error log or a stack dump, or what tests to try to gain more information.

Use 'Comments' when asking for more information.  Sometimes this is the only way to respond. "Exactly what TIBCO Product and version are you using?"  or "Have you looked in the Error Log? Its located at: ..."

Use 'Answers' for possible answers or pieces of answers.  "If I'm understanding you correctly, you're trying to .... " - "If that's correct, try this:"

Try to remember that your questioner may be essentially alone with this problem. He may literally be anywhere in the world with no one there to turn to.  As important as a good answer is empathy for the questioner's predicament.  We've all been there.  Let them know that they're not alone.  Strengthening someones gumption to tackle a problem is as important as the nuts and bolts of any solution.

Someone Emailed Me a Question

Sometimes a member might email you a question.

If you click on a username on the system, like mine Don Johnson , probably as a signature on a post of some type, you'll see the following:

Don Johnson's Profile

You'll see, on the right, that the member can use a webform to send you an email.  The picture and the webform show my name and email because its me looking at my own profile.  If JoeBlow at Joe@Blow.com was viewing this, his name and email would show here, as the sender, not mine as the recipient.  So, this form allows the sender to send an email without revealing the recipient's email address.

They're looking for an answer as quickly as possible.  We can empathize, but ...   A question answered in an email helps one person, a question answered online in the community can help many into the future.  So an emailed answer, when there is no compelling reason to keep it private, is against the spirit of community.  If you receive a question through email that could easily be posted publically, please advise the questioner of how community is supposed to work and advise them to post the question, if they haven't already.  Some members might post the question, then send you an email. Answer their question online and then reply in email as to what you did and why.

 


Summary

The TIBCO Community is not a replacement for Customer Support.  It is a tool for users of TIBCO products to learn about them and to learn about how other folks use them - to share experiences and tactics and strategies.  If you've researched a problem here on the TIBCO Community, you may very well find a solution, or you may, when you do log a Support Ticket, be more able to supply pertinent information, to understand the problem, and any provided solution, better.