Pro Tip: How to get effective help.


This is not in response to any particular post -- there have been a whole bunch lately that are prompting this.

When you ask a question in a forum and someone takes the time to respond they may ask you some follow-up questions or seek clarification of your issue.

We do this because we need more information in order to help you.

The issue may seem very obvious to you -- but we are not you. We do not have access to your systems and we do not have the context that you have about your problem. We often see many, many possible ways to look at a situation and we know, often from painful experience, that jumping to conclusions and making wild guesses is not going to help you. It may even put you in a much worse place than you are.

Ignoring the follow-up questions or randomly answering small pieces of the question or only those parts that you feel like answering or moving on to some unconnected tangent is not an effective way to get help.

If you really want help please carefully read the responses and completely answer any follow-up questions.

We're not asking these things to be annoying. We are trying to help you.

Rob Fitzpatrick Sponsor
Thanks for this Tom. I think there are also some posting guidelines on the site but at the moment I can't find them.

In general:
  • Provide OS version information for your platform(s).
    Be specific. Say "Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1" instead of "Windows". Say "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 64-bit", not "Linux". If there are different platforms for different systems or application tiers, describe them separately if it is relevant to your issue.
  • Provide Progress version information for your platform(s).
    As above; be specific. Provide the version number from the $DLC/version file, i.e. down to the SP and hot-fix level if any. Also mention the architecture (32-bit/64-bit). If your question is about a given Progress product, it may be helpful to list the products you have installed (from showcfg). For example, if your issue is that you can't start more than two AppServer agents, it is very relevant to know whether you installed OE AppServer Basic, OE AppServer Enterprise, or OE DevServer.
  • What did you do?
    If your issue is related to code, it can be very helpful to show a bit of your code rather than just describing it in high-level terms. If posting code, please enclose it in CODE tags or use the "Insert | Code" button in the editor toolbar. (If you don't know how to do that, please ask.) This will make your code legible, which will increase the chances that someone will be patient enough to try to figure it out.
    If your issue is not code-related, describe your steps in sufficient detail that obvious follow-up questions are not required. Use more than one sentence.
  • What did you see?
    Don't say "...and then I got an error message." We can't see your screen. If you encountered one or more error messages, copy them in their entirety and paste them into your post.
  • How are you configured?
    If your post is about troubleshooting or performance tuning, it is likely important for us to know information like:
    • how many databases your client connects to and their sizes;
    • the specs of your servers and/or storage;
    • your client startup params;
    • your database broker startup params (from your .pf or DB log);
    • etc.
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Cringer Moderator
Staff member
Basic posting guidelines in my sig. I know we had a thread about all of this ages ago. Will try and dig it out.

Chris Kelleher

Staff member
Basic posting guidelines in my sig. I know we had a thread about all of this ages ago. Will try and dig it out.

I found another one that had lots of useful information in it as well, so I added a link to that in the announcement.


And while I am at it...

Post your questions in the public forums. Do not attempt to get me to answer by sending something to my inbox. I am very likely to offer you an opportunity to pay for "one on one" in-person consulting and mentoring if you do that. Yes, I am serious about my rate. That is what my time costs. I'm not cheap. But I do happily answer questions in public forums when I have some spare time.

Do not be afraid to ask questions in the public forums. Do not worry that you don't have all the answers. None of us do. We are all learning. The more people that you expose your questions to the higher the quality of response you will get. Personally, I often find that the process of putting together a question and making sure that I follow the guidelines above leads me to the answer. Sometimes before I click "Post" ;) Sometimes I post it anyway because I think other people might like to know.
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