What information do we need to answer a question effectively?

[digression on]

I disagree with this list. Do you also want to know what they ate at lunch and the last book they read?

We don't need all this from posters. Some information is indeed good, but too much information kills it.

We should create an incentive for OP to think about relevant information but it does not need to feel like 1984...

here for example a link to TouchDesigner or description of what it is would have been helpful

As an example I don't care about age, I don't care about an oscilloscope in that case or at that point. if needed this could come in later as part of questions .

[digression off]

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post can't be empty

In my opinion, it just seems like there is one set of requests for a hardware problem and one for a software problem combined. I enthusiastically agree with all the software items. In this case, perhaps hardware won't become an issue, so it would help to break it into two boilerplates.

Or in the same text, break it down like
if you are asking about hardware
if you are asking about software...

Mmmmm, I think no, this is something that the average poster has considered incorrectly in the first place and won't change much.

post can't be empty

I mean, for example some people don't initially consider the body of the code relevant, and so don't post it...

I don't want to hijack this thread too much. My view is to recommend reading How to get the best out of this forum unless there is a very specific ask you want to make because one piece of critical info is missing. In that case, ask for this only.

In many cases, so much is missing that it is too much work to do that. Agree the conversation need to split off...

sure but when too much is missing, just route to the How to get the best out of this forum

end of this discussion for me. back to OP's problem
let's ear if Serial.write('A'+i); solved it :slight_smile:

Do you want me to split this off as suggested?

1 Like

let's see if OP comes back :wink:
(but feel free to do so or I can do it)


I agonised over the same problem when I created the forum instructions.

I used to have some boilerplates. My feeling was, you can link to this or that, really, in many cases the target links are not sufficient because they lack the immediacy and visibility of a boilerplate. Also my previous boilerplates were a set. Each one targeted a different problem. They did contain the same links sometimes, like the "how to get the best out of this forum", and others. They became awkward to maintain because of changes to content on the forum. Also the sentiments behind them changed, and ideas about what kind of statements are the most effective. So I mainly stopped using them, except for some "tiny tutorials" and code examples.

It is a difficult thing to explain a general problem, "you have not provided enough information". Of all the posts I've seen to address that, I found Stephan's to be the most explanatory (and entertaining!). :slight_smile:

IIRC, those have usually only been posted in egregious examples of vagueness, and only after the post count has gotten quite large.

I have been constructing corrective replies for those situations on the fly, because as I said, I feel that it's often more effective to target certain aspects. But suprisingly often, a comprehensive list like Stephan's, proves to address multiple problems in the original post all at once. This is because the origin of the omissions is systematic, the poster has a style or outlook that permeates all their communication, that is grossly ineffective.

Some questions might seem immaterial at first, "do you have a scope". But consider frequent bald statements like, "the output glitches" and you wonder, how did they arrive at that conclusion? In a normal technically competent environment, you could more or less accept that, and move on to what might cause it. But now we see all kinds of pretentious people (or shy people that are simply too embarrassed about their skill level), propping up their descriptions with conflated technical descriptions. So we need to start asking, "well how did you determine that", in a way that can't be deflected into nonsense - maybe, "because the X-909 THR_enable line is low" or such.

Here is one of my (really old) boilerplates:

You have not posted a real schematic. Schematics are the written language of electronics. The reason that is so, is because they are designed to clearly convey the functional aspects of the circuit, as opposed to the physical layout which has not so much to do with how the circuit actually works. The layout of a schematic usually follows certain patterns, which can be quickly recognized and compared with other circuits. This aids immensely in the understanding of the circuit. The labeling of components and conductors may include labels which also exist in a physical diagram, but also explicitly and implicitly includes additional information which helps to explain the functionality of the circuit, and is not visible in the physical layout. Lack of a proper schematic creates work for anyone that works on a circuit. For this reason, anyone that designs a circuit should make one. If you expect other people to work with your circuit, the lack of a schematic usually places a huge burden on them, as they have to do the work of creating their own schematic, either in their mind, or on paper. This discourages people from helping you.

Consider, the difference between reading that in a thread, and as part of a body of general instructions. One is a stop sign. The other is a driver's manual.

well that would turn me off in a thread.

It's a long paragraph (would benefit to have some new lines) with too much information, it reads like a lawyer wrote it... :slight_smile:

May be it's cultural... I would just say something like

You have not posted a real schematic of your Circuit and wiring diagram. This might discourage people from helping you

because it's in the tone of the discussion. Then see what the OP does.

Use positive language:
Thank you for posting a diagram of your circuit, while what you have posted helps it would help us to help you even more if you could draw a schematic, which can be a photograph of a simple pencil drawing < link to tutorial on drawing schematics >.

I mentioned, those need a lot of editing. That one was designed not for triage, but surgery (after simpler, more general attempts clearly failed to get the point across). Notice, I'm not using it. But I might brush it off and bring it back. Because, it seems to me, more and more posters think, "why would I have to do that?", and so need some explanation other than just, "people might be discouraged from helping". That is what I liked about Stephan's posts... they fully explain the need and the mechanics of successful and failed communication.

Indeed - but something cultural too.

Which we can never get right as this is an international forum.

AND it is why I am pleased when someone volunteers to convert the forum instructions into their own language, Google Translate can never do cultural differences justice.

Haha, me neither. Not anymore. :expressionless:

@aarg 's schematic boilerplate could be proceeded by

tl;dr: If you don't make a schematic, you won't get the eyes you want on your problem.


Is this more culturally appropriate?:

Dude, where's the schematic? Schematics are the YouTube of electronics. They show you everything in neat pictures. It's so cool when you can "get" a circuit. When you put names on doo-daddy things, it's so much easier to read. We get pretty lost without them. Think of schematics as a kind of game cheat. Then all the cool gamers here will see you are a buddy and help out.