Newsgroup Tips


  1. Do some homework. Read the manual. Check the product's online help. Review the examples that came with the product to see if any are doing something similar to what you need.

  2. Determine to which newsgroup you should post your question. Check the messages that are already on the newsgroup to see if others have asked about your problem recently.

  3. Use a meaningful subject line. Instead of saying that you need help urgently, summarize the problem in your subject line. If you are getting an error message that you need help understanding, put the text of the error, or a summary thereof, in your subject.

  4. Try to ask one main question in each message. A message with a laundry list of questions is less likely to get the same attention as a focused message with a few short, related questions.

  5. Don't ask questions in a way that require all people to answer in the negative, because you won't get an answer. State the problem and ask for help. For example: "Has anyone ever had problems with the Obscuro device driver when using the Mysterioso operating system, field test 1, loaded high on a converted 8088 with a Hyperhype accelerator?" Everyone will skip your message because they do not have such a configuration.

  6. Do not be annoyed by receiving a half-dozen conditional answers from different people. Make it work for you by noting the suggestions that aren't pertinent to your immediate situation. They may be, sooner than you think.

  7. Be prepared for follow up. The people who are going to be responding to your message will be trying to recognize what the problem might be based solely on what you write. If they don't recognize the problem from your initial description, then you'll be asked to provide more details: operating system version, product version, sample code, etc.

  8. Don't assume that nobody cares to help you if you get no answers. Ask again, with the timing of the second request determined by the urgency of the problem. State that this is a second request.

  9. You catch more flies with honey. Remember, both the employees of the company providing support and the loyal customers who enhance the support are there because they like the company and the product. If you have a legitimate complaint, it doesn't do any good to make your entry onto the newsgroup by stating that the product is terrible, the company is criminal, and the users of the product are idiots, and then going on to demand assistance or you will resort to legal action. Stick to the facts, eliminate the hyperbole, and register your complaints through the appropriate channels.

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