The Gift of Asking Stupid Questions

  • It's really a talent. Some dumb questions are hidden gems. Why didn't we think of that before, does it still apply now ...

  • I've been asked questions that seemed dumb until I tried to answer them.

    As to the RTFM answers, anyone giving that response should pretend they know nothing and take their own advice.  Some of the documentation can be pretty obscure.

  • Yeah, this works both ways:

    Try to ask the RIGHT question.

    Try to answer the question that was asked.

    Is that pretty efficient code?  And I've only had one cup of coffee this morning.

    Just thinking about this, it reminds me of the current states of the media.  The questions are always slanted toward the answer that is wanted, and the answer is always slanted toward the motive of the person being questioned.  The answer you get also depends on who you ask.

    Rick

    I may not be good, but I'm slow.

    The only thing worse than being an influencer
    is believing one.

  • David, I had to look up the meaning of RTFM.  That's pretty precise.

    Rick

    I may not be good, but I'm slow.

    The only thing worse than being an influencer
    is believing one.

  • I love to ask questions, although I'm finding some places, mainly Stack Overflow, to be intolerant of a beginner's questions. Often beginners are so ignorant of the subject they don't know where to start or even what the proper terms to use are. I know I'm like that.

    Although those lines, when I'm approaching some new tech, to me, I'm often not sure how to approach the topic to try and get a good answer without annoying others. This is still something I struggle with. Often, I'll see how to structure a question. This is done on Stack Overflow or GitHub. That's not what I mean, though. It often comes down to terms. In the beginning I'll use layman's terms, until I learn enough about the topic to better ask about it.

    Rod

  • skeleton567 wrote:

    David, I had to look up the meaning of RTFM.  That's pretty precise.

    son i am disappoint

  • x wrote:

    skeleton567 wrote:

    David, I had to look up the meaning of RTFM.  That's pretty precise.

    son i am disappoint

     

    Y?

    Rick

    I may not be good, but I'm slow.

    The only thing worse than being an influencer
    is believing one.

  • I think the RTFM type responses, when written properly, can be just as helpful as asking the right questions.

    I mean, if your response is "RTFM" and nothing more, then I agree it is a bad response.  But I've recommended people check out the documentation on a function before but when I do, I try to point them to the exact part of the documentation that matters and will often quote the relevant information.

    What I find annoying in forum post replies is when they have a link to another website and no answer in the forum post.  Then 5 years later I hit the same problem, click on the link, and it is 404.  So the link HAD the answer but now I need to keep digging.

    I also think that asking dumb questions shows you are wanting to learn. And any good mentor/teacher who gets asked a dumb question about something they know a lot about can often talk about it for hours.  Almost every time I do a SQL presentation (been a while, but I've done a few), someone in the room is giving me hints that I am running out of time.  That is, I need to do better at presentations.  My first presentation I skipped over a few of my demos because I was running out of time and wrapped things up with about 15 seconds to spare!

  • Sometimes it's not the dumb question or the right question but "the appropriate question" to address the situation. It's good to remember that we all bring our previous experiences, preconceptions and (if you like) prejudices with us. Testing those preconceptions can be a good thing and sometimes you can do this in a neutral non-confrontational manner.

    Here's an example which I witnessed many years ago. The situation was a meeting between an experienced consultant and a customer and the topic revolved around "orders". Only, something seemed to be going wrong and they were getting at cross-purposes.

    The "dumb question" to the customer was: "How many orders do you process a year?"

    The answer was (do you want to pause here and guess): "One to three (if we are lucky)!"

    The customer was an engineering firm which received, at most, a dozen proper enquiries a year and converted one (or 3) of those to an order. Imagine the difference in mindset between that and someone (the consultant) who was thinking in retail terms. In this case, the quantifying question completely changed the dynamics of the meeting because it created the opportunity for the customer to explain in detail just exactly what they did. BTW an answer of "100 Million" would have been equally effective.

    There's a whole class of "dumb questions" which revolve around quantifying the problem in even the crudest way. Nowadays I tend to view the answers to these crude quantities in terms of "powers of ten".

    Tom Gillies LinkedIn Profilewww.DuhallowGreyGeek.com[/url]

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