Avalonstar
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Asking the Right Questions

As I start to write this I’m realizing that asking the right questions is an important–if not required–skill in both design and programming, but since the latter feels a less natural to me, the development of said skill has been a lot more noticeable (read: painful).

Without Google and Stack Overflow, I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far with programming as I’ve gotten today. Either that or I would have annoyed a hell of a lot more people to get to this same point. Nevertheless, it’s been an amazing journey to acquire the knowledge to understand “the complete stack.”

A quick look at my profile shows that I’ve asked about 18 questions over the period of two-and-a-half years. But what isn’t apparent is the amount of time I spend researching. Before I even think of asking a question on Stack Overflow, I spend as much time as I can stand searching Google scrambling and honing search terms that’ll hopefully lead me to the right answer. This helps, because if I do require the help of Stack Overflow’s hive-mind, I have a decent idea of the question I want to ask.

Mind you, I dislike not getting answers, so I’ll take an unusual amount of time making sure the question can garner an answer (or outright plead for one, if that’s the case).

So I’ve almost become obsessed with asking the right question and I optimize for wasting the least amount of anybody’s time. All of the above applies when it comes to asking my peers for help as well. In fact, the barriers are even higher, as I’d rather bother Google or Stack Overflow. It takes a lot for me to ask anybody anything, let alone something that requires the time commitment that a programming question usually does. To be honest, it’s an odd anomaly since over the years (especially when instant messaging was “a thing”) I’ve always been happy to sit down and answer any and all questions.

The word that comes to mind is… masochism. But that’s a story for another day.