Asking for help in an effective way is a learned skill. Poorly phrasing your request for help can lead to longer response times, more confusion, and a lower likelihood of getting your problem solved.
Fortunately, asking good questions is a skill easily learned. In fact, a huge part of learning to code is learning how to effectively communicate your questions!
Before you post, think through these questions:
- What is the problem with your code?
Bad: “My program is broken.”
Bad: “I’m getting a ValueError message.”
Good: “There is a ValueError on line 23, and it’s not clear to me what’s causing it.”
- What have you done to try to address the problem?
Bad: Asking for help immediately.
Bad: Using trial and error without any specific direction.
Good: “I added user input validation, but am still seeing the problem.”
- Where have you looked for an answer?
Bad: Haven’t looked online at all.
Bad: Googled “python value error” and didn’t see anything
Good: “I Googled ‘python value error convert string to int’ and found a question on
Stack Overflow that seemed relevant. I tried the the recommended solution, but it didn’t
fix my problem.
In following these steps, you may even find that formulating a good question helps you figure out an answer without even needing to ask!
So, instead of jumping into the help forum and asking:
“Hey, I’m having trouble with exercise 3. Can someone help me?”
“I’m trying to solve exercise 3 and am getting a ValueError on the line where I am trying to convert a user’s input from a string to an int. Here’s the line that’s causing the error. I’ve re-read the section in the book on converting user input, but when I tried to rewrite the line to match it I’m still getting the same error. Any ideas on what to check for next?”