Asking a SQL Question

, 2008-06-18

I've been a little surprised lately by some of the questions I've seen in our forums at with questions that weren't questions. I've seen people post things that make it hard for people to help them. Among those items:

  • statements, and never really ask a question.
  • An error message or partial error with no context.
  • Broad questions like "What do I need to watch out for when upgrading to SQL Server 2005?"
  • Posting a question you got asked and nothing else.
  • Advertisements - I delete these, even in response to a question if they don't apply.

Jeff Moden wrote a great article on Forum Etiquette that I've tried to rerun and point out to people so they can better frame what they need to post.

There isn't a set of things I can say you always need to post, but you really should think about your question for a minute and post what's appropriate. Imagine that most of us don't understand your context, so we need to know the version (pay attention to where you're posting), and some information about what is happening. It helps to see your observations of the system or the code you've tried and also what happened that you didn't want.

The one thing that always bugs me is someone giving me a test question. Or interview or some other question they got asked and they haven't done any work. I had someone do this recently, actually it happens regularly, but this person posted a question with no code. I gave a few hints and asked them to try, saying that I didn't want to give answers to questions. They responded with "this is not a test question"

OK, maybe it's not. I'm not assuming that it is, but just that it appears to be and the posted didn't show any work. I tried to explain that and hoped that no one else just posted the code. I can appreciate that you sometimes need a code answer, but if you haven't tried anything, it looks like you're lazy and not intersting in doing work. Or that you want a good grade. If you're willing to post a test question, wouldn't you be willing to lie and say it isn't?

The bottom line is that I enjoy helping people and try to do so, but I'm not interested in feeding people, I'm interested in teaching them to fish.







Related content

Database Mirroring FAQ: Can a 2008 SQL instance be used as the witness for a 2005 database mirroring setup?

Question: Can a 2008 SQL instance be used as the witness for a 2005 database mirroring setup? This question was sent to me via email. My reply follows. Can a 2008 SQL instance be used as the witness for a 2005 database mirroring setup? Databases to be mirrored are currently running on 2005 SQL instances but will be upgraded to 2008 SQL in the near future.


1,567 reads

Networking - Part 4

You may want to read Part 1 , Part 2 , and Part 3 before continuing. This time around I'd like to talk about social networking. We'll start with social networking. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are all good examples of using technology to let...


1,530 reads

Speaking at Community Events - More Thoughts

Last week I posted Speaking at Community Events - Time to Raise the Bar?, a first cut at talking about to what degree we should require experience for speakers at events like SQLSaturday as well as when it might be appropriate to add additional focus/limitations on the presentations that are accepted. I've got a few more thoughts on the topic this week, and I look forward to your comments.


360 reads