4 Golden Rules for asking questions on forums

OK, you posted your question on a user to user forum and it went into a black hole.  And then you assumed, mostly incorrectly, that your question was dumb and unworthy of a response. Before you condemn yourself to eternal damnation, it might be worth following these four golden rules.

Rule #1: Do your homework

Philosophers worth their latest Nirvana will tell you that the way you go about seeking answers is sometimes more important than the answer itself.

OK, I made that up but it does make a lot of sense huh?

CCC_Search_REC_Recherche

Query answered already?

If you are Johnny come lately, chances are that your question has been done to death on the forum to an extent that it gives everyone the hives to answer it all over again. Look for the Search box. Use it.

You Google for everything from the person your favorite actor is dating to the possibility of human beings being aliens. Maybe it is a good idea to entrust Google with your problem too.

Your title, matters.

It is amazing how our actual behavior is completely in dissonance with, well, our actual behavior. Most of us never travel beyond the headlines of a newspaper, and yet, assume that titles such as  Adobe Problem, Help!, Adobe CS5 will have people rushing to answer us with floral scented candles.

Go back, rephrase that title, and get the pheromones oozing out of it.

The details, you devil!

What’s the software; which version? What Operating System; which version? Anything that changed on the computer before it got all wonky? Provide as much ammo as possible.

The more you give the more you get – this couldn’t be truer for forums. But avoid writing a soap opera.

Rule #2:  Don’t multi-post

keep-calm-and-don-t-repeat

Heard of the law of diminishing returns? If you got Rule #1 right, you are not going to be ignored. And if you are, just go back with a second appeal – on the same post.   Some communities can be very unforgiving of people that post the same question multiple times. Death by Ostracization is not unheard of.

Rule #3:  It takes time to answer. Wait.

patience

The submit button is not the equivalent of your confirming the order with a waiter. You have done your bit; now wait. People on a forum will help you when they have the time for it. It might take a couple of hours; maybe a day. They are doing it for free remember? And in most cases, all that they are getting for their head banging is your not-so-guaranteed thank you.

If people that work for free to answer your question can stay composed, so can you. They have other problems too + your problem.

Rule #4: Are you at the right place?

lost

If you have the latest version of the software and need a solution urgently, you should probably be picking up the phone or chatting with a customer service representative. Caveat: Ensure that you have followed Rule#1 before you do that.

Long wait times? Did you check if the company has a Twitter handle or Facebook account? Did you try using the callback option? Did you try chat support?

Socially yours…

It has been quite some time since I blogged, and in this time, I have moved from being content creator to the online social lead for web products. Essentially, what that means is that I will be responding to user queries posted on various social media platforms in collaboration with other experts at Adobe.

I will be using my blog to communicate all information about web products that I am allowed to share.  And needless to say, if I inadvertently state something that isn’t entirely correct,  it has everything to do with me and nothing that has been endorsed by Adobe. Having said that, I will stay clear of such misadventures.  I am trying to account for Monday mornings and bad hair days.

The information that I share is however, not for just your consumption but is meant to be shared, retweeted, reblogged, recycled, whatever. I will try to ensure that it is all worth your effort, time and space.

If you have anything that you want to share, please use the comments section to do that. Anything that is positive and constructive will be given immediate thought and attention.

I will try and notch up a blog post a week, and it is one of my commitments I hope to keep.

Cheers!

Preran