Guide: How to Ask a Good Question

To increase your chance of getting a high quality answer, you want to focus on asking a high quality question. Before we dive into the tips, let’s think of a hypothetical situation so that we can create an example question.

Hypothetical Situation

When you ran the following code:

print(sum([1, 2, 3]))

You received the following error:

TypeErrorTraceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-1-96fd51102535> in <module>()
----> 1 print(sum([1, 2, 3]))

TypeError: 'int' object is not callable

What should you do?

1. Search first.

The magnifying glass in the upper-right corner is the perfect place to start. If you find things that are related to your question but don’t fully answer it, it will be helpful to link to those questions to give as much context as possible to other community members.

If you are unable to find a solution from the search result, then it’s time to create a post.

Pro Tip: Google-Fu is an incredible skill to learn for a future data scientist like you.

2. Write a Unique Title.

What details need to be included for you to sum up your issue in one sentence?

Example: TypeError: 'int' object is not callable - Can't identify the redefined function name

3. Always introduce your problem first, then give us examples of code.

Example: I am getting TypeError: 'int' object is not callable. Based on this article, we can fix it by running del followed by the function name. However, when I attempted to do it with my code, I am getting the same error. I don’t know how to fix it.

Here is the code that I have used:

print(sum([1, 2, 3]))

And here is my attempt at doing what is mentioned in this article:

del print
print(sum([1, 2, 3]))

4. Include the link to the mission.

This is incredibly important and helps bring context to the issue or question.

5. Use Markdown to style your question.

Markdown is a very handy syntax to learn. It’s catching up a lot of traction and more and more forums are implementing this. Therefore, it would help you not only in this community but also with other forums on the internet. If you are unfamiliar with Markdown, I would recommend you this cool interactive markdown tutorial. Or if you just need a refresher, check out this article.

6. Avoid posting screenshots of your code, errors, or bugs.

Please always copy and paste these into the question, and then use Markdown to style!

Screen Recording 2020-06-10 at 07.12 PM

Note: Those are not single quotes ''', they are backticks ```. (You can find it on the left side of Number Key 1 in most English keyboard layouts)

7. Keep tabs on your question!

Don’t run as soon as you’ve posted, in case there are clarifications needed.


Stack Overflow has a great, comprehensive article on asking a good question, complete with examples.

To conclude, this is how our hypothetical question will look like:

As always, abide by our Community Guidelines.

Further reading

15 Likes

Some great tips here. Thanks, Mary.

3 Likes

To add:

  1. Include mission url references - Ease for the reader to refer to the mission.

  2. Avoid posting screenshots or pictures about errors or bugs. Sometimes, the text in the picture is difficult for reader to read due to low picture resolution.

  3. Type out the code in the post. Why? The reader can copy and paste the code and test it out rather than manually. Most importantly, it helps to think through what you have done and a better written post helps the reader to figure out what exactly the problem lies.

2 Likes

To add:

Please include the url link to the mission too! It helps with a much faster response instead of manually following the described description steps on which mission.

Markdown syntax to format the url

[mission text](url)

mission text

1 Like

It’s your duty to help others in helping you. 2 quick tips to make it easier for others to help you:

  • Try searching for similar questions already present in the Community. And go through them. Even though this sounds cumbersome, it’s often the quickest way to find a solution to your problem.
  • Try to have the reader of the question in your mind - give them every piece of information that they might need to help you. When in doubt, err on the side of clarity and be willing to explain the obvious to make sure its understood.
4 Likes