PSA: make it easier to help you

How about adding this?

Include full stacktrace and error messages. They often contain valuable information even if they may seem cryptic to you. Please quote the stacktrace as well (see point 1).

Great idea, but for some reason I cannot edit the post. I think it Discourse does not allow editing old posts. @vchuravy, can you somehow allow me to do this?

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I turned it into a wiki so you (and other folks) should be able to edit it.

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@vchuravy: Thanks!

@tkf: I added your suggestion.

This is a great piece of advice for new comers. I see frequent mention of this in responses. I would suggest that this appears as a pinned message at the top this site.

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Thanks!

I wonder… is is possible to make the original post appear on the “New topic” popup?

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I like your list because it’s positive actions, i.e. things you should do.

However, the recent increase in people posting for help and putting in screenshots might make it worthy to add an explicit,

Please don’t use screen captures

entry.

edit: oh good grief. it’s already there. thx @oxinabox

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It is already there, under point 1, in bold

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Regarding simplifying the problem — this is invaluable when done with skill, but I find that many people oversimplify and their toy example looses the essence of the original problem.

Perhaps we could suggest that, when simplifying, people include some minimal context about their original problem. Some examples:

  • The name (and link to) the original julia code from which the MWE was derived
  • The name of the original library and function they were trying to ccall
  • The domain-specific name of the technique they’re trying to implement

Those kind of things; a sentence or two giving enough detail that people who are interested in a deep dive can help them out without repeatedly having to ask for more detail.

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I think that requiring an MWE should add a bound to oversimplification, and we can always ask for extra details.

Abstracting out the essence of a problem is an art in itself, which is hard to convey in guidelines like this.

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EDIT: added specific instructions to obtain version information with versioninfo() and pkg> st.

An MWE is fine for error messages and such where there’s a clear criterion on the “working” in MWE.

But I guess I’m thinking about more general open ended “how do I…” questions where the user hasn’t been able to construct something which is actually working.

I think you raise a very valid point, it’s just that I don’t have a good solution for it within the scope that I intended for this guide.

Specifically, I meant this to be a collection of “obvious” suggestions: all of them are low-hanging fruits, and are meant to be easy to address with a specific action.

I am hesitant to extend list with suggestions that require a longer explanation, because I am concerned that the longer we make it, the less of it will be read.

Perhaps consider making a blog post with examples, then I would be happy to link it.

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Btw, it was recently brought up on Slack in #community that some of the veterans who provide help to newcomers here on Discourse could also use a little more sensitivity and be a little more welcoming. I don’t spend a lot of time on Discourse, but there is some concern about the tone and friendliness here. Just FYI.

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Possibly — but please kindly discuss this in another topic.

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Sure. A separate topic is probably in order, but my posting here was not entirely random. This “PSA” itself comes across, to me at least, as slightly condescending, which was the nature of some of the concerns raised on Slack. It is worth a bigger discussion for sure and if anyone strongly agrees or strongly disagrees that posts like this may be part of a bigger problem, then please join a conversation (seperate topic or Slack #community would make sense).

I think a PSA like this is a really good idea and I am sure, from being around here long enough, it is coming from a good place. However, I do feel it could do with a little more humility and warmness and aside from us old timers, I do wonder how a true new Julian might take it. I fully support both the idea and the content. My only concern is tone as it feels like it is coming from a position of frustration.

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Many newcomers to this forum give a :heart: to this topic once they learn about it, so I imagine that at least some of them find it useful.

I like to believe that it has helped some discussions converge quicker to a satisfactory solution, which was its purpose.

I have reviewed the post, and I am not sure I understand why you think this (of course, as the person who wrote most of it, I am not in the best position to see its flaws). I don’t know what that “bigger problem” is.

This wiki entry (started as a post) is coming from a desire to make life a bit easier both for people who ask questions and those who want to help them out. It is simply a concise summary of suggestions/requests that are usually made in discussions on this forum. In this sense, it is not unlike a FAQ.

Of course, constructive criticism is of always welcome and would allow us to make this wiki entry even better. Since you decided to continue this discussion here anyway, please do not hesitate to suggest improvements.

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I imagine it’s this point that splits the minds. I have no doubt that this post fulfills this task and that it’s good that we have it. On the other hand, I (personally) usually prefer to be maybe extra friendly, even if it means that it’s going to take a bit longer. For me, a question here isn’t just getting straight to the right answer (“and be done with it”) but about how we get there.

Regarding improvements: I think a “hello, welcome” message would be nice, considering that especially first timers get directed here. Something like

Hi and welcome to the Julia Discourse. You probably got directed here because you recently asked a question in this forum. Usually people here are friendly and try their best to help others. But to do this some information are needed […].
Asking questions in a way that other people can help you well is pretty hard so by no means should you take it personally that you were asked to revise your question.

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