SoftwareEntwicklung Beratung Schulung

A coders, hackers heaven.....Hm...I do not think so...

Answering Questions on Stackoverflow Means Asking Questions

I’m very active on Stackoverflow and answering question on different topics but majority I do is about Apache Maven.

So how I’m going to answer a question? First of course I read the question (obviously). Most of the time I realize there is not enough information in the question to really understand the problem. Often question are like (completely exaggerated!) Does not work....

If I would like to give a good and founded answer, I have to know the details of the problem. This means in consequence I have to ask questions about the context, why people are trying/doing this or that or which versions of tools they are using or why they are violating convention over configuration paradigm in Maven (as an example) and so on. Or why people are using old versions of plugins?

Now the odd story begins. I see sometimes people they do not answer the question I asked to clear up the problem. They are writing things like You do not need to know the details. or Asking question does not help or things like Too many questions bringing us nowhere.

That’s the moment where I start to scratch my head and thinking about what I’m doing there.

  • Is the intention of those people to get an answer/help for their problem?

How could I give a founded answer if I don’t know the nifty details? Simply as it is: I can’t.

So in the end it means if you don’t answer those questions you make it impossible to help.

As a developer you are often faced with problems often named as bugs or requirements how a business process should work.

To solve such problems/requirements there is only a single solution. You have to ask question to understand the problems/requirements context to solve it in the end.

In the case of bugs the obvious thing is to ask questions what where the circumstances? Which button has been clicked? Which REST API has been called with which parameters? Does a log file exist etc. etc. (My educated guess is that you know that from your daily job and asked those question yourself).

If you are faced with business requirements you have to ask the technical experts to understand the problem on the technical level and find a solution how to write your code which solved that requirement.

So I strongly recommend that you answer those question(s) on a Stackoverflow question otherwise it’s not possible to help you even if you think it does not belong to the context.

I often made the experience after I get more context I often can suggest better solutions in the end then the one which we started with.