I’m going through an email bucket clean up. I tend to group my emails into buckets, one bucket I call ticklers. In ticklers I store things that I come across on the web that I don’t have time to handle immediately but that I find interesting and worth coming back too. Today in my clean up I came across an email I sent myself with the title answerer and asker. I think it originates from stack overflow code of conduct although I could be wrong and I’m not going to invest the time in confirming it.
As an asker, I will…
Not be a jerk. Remember that anyone who responds to me is a human being, with feelings. Assume that any person who responds to me is acting in good faith and trying to help me. Remember that I’m asking people to give up their time, for free, to help me with a problem. Respect the time of others by researching my question before asking, narrowing it down as far as I can, and then presenting as much information as I think may be relevant. Take the time to present my question well, formatting it as readably as I can.
As an answerer, I will…
Not be a jerk. Remember that the person I’m responding to is a human being, with feelings. Assume that the person I’m responding to is acting in good faith and wants to be helped. Be clear that a comment on the quality of a question is not a value judgement on the person asking it. Remember that sometimes, the person I’m responding to may feel they’re being judged, even if I don’t think I’m doing that. Be clear in my comments about how a question can be improved, giving concrete suggestions for positive changes rather than emphasizing the negative aspects of the current state. Be clear in my answers, remembering that not everyone has the same technical context that I do (so some terms may need links etc). Take the time to present my answer well, formatting it as readably as I can.
The underlying thread
What I found interesting about the asker and answerer sections are that it has an underlying thread around asking questions in general. In the past I’ve seen both asker’s and answerer’s not do so well. If I’m to be totally honest I’m not the greatest asker - often my questions could do with a little more thought and research before throwing them out to the bigger audience. I’ve also seen some people not be the greatest answerer’s - in particular I’ve seen people respond in an extremely condescending manner. Let’s all get better at asking and answering questions.