Below is an attempt to summarise esr's How To Ask Questions The Smart Way so that people might read it. Thanks to Mardybear, edbarx, Dasein, AdamFirst for specific feedback and to many others for thought provoking discussion.
The howto is aimed at the Beginners' Questions sub forum. There has been some discussion of the text and if this is even worth doing at
What do people think: best as a wiki page? A normal post? A sticky? or just on the Web somewhere easy to link?
How to get help with a technical problem
This page shows you how to make it easier for experienced forum users to help you
There are four stages to asking for help
- Before you post: Read Debian help, try Web searches
- When you post: Provide information
- After posting: Be ready to run commands and post back findings
- Success: Mark the thread as SOLVED
Before you post
Debian has a lot of documentation already available.
People often make Web pages about problems they have solved.
- Have you looked at the Debian Wiki?
- Have you scanned the Beginner's Guide for your problem?
- Have you tried a Web search
When you post
Use clear language
- Keep your sentences short and descriptive
- Don't use slang, leet or text message language
- Don't use a support thread to give opinions about Debian or say what you think 'Debian' ought to do
Good: "Wifi does not resume after suspend on Debian Wheezy using KDE"
Bad: "Help no wifi!"
In the main part of the post you need to give information about the computer, the problem and to list the things you have already done.
About your computer and Debian version:
Good: "Dell Latitude 5420 laptop i5 processor with Broadcom WiFi card"
Bad: "My old laptop"
Good: "Debian Wheezy KDE installed from DVD1 issue 7.5 and updated today"
Bad: "My Debian"
See Debian Wiki HowToIdentifyADevice
Try: cat /etc/debian_release or cat /etc/apt/sources.list
About the problem
Describe what you did and what you saw, including error messages
Good: "Connected to local WPA2 wifi and load Web pages in Firefox. Susupended the laptop by closing the lid. Opened the lid to resume. Waited for wifi to reconnect. Clicked on Wifi icon, says 'connecting...' and never connects"
Bad: "wifi doesn't work after suspending"
About what you have done already
- List the Debian wiki pages and some of the Web sites you found before posting
- Say briefly why they didn't help
- Describe anything you tried and what happened as a result
- Doing this helps the people reading your post to understand what is unusual about your problem
It might take several days for someone to answer your post.
Don't stop trying to solve the problem yourself.
Supply more information when asked
You might be asked for more information, e.g. to post a link to the .iso file you used to install Debian or to post the contents of your /etc/apt/sources.list file.
If you don't know how to supply the information, try finding out for yourself using Debian Wiki or a Web search before posting a reply to ask
- Remember to edit your first post in your topic and to add [SOLVED] to the subject line
- If you solved the problem yourself, post a summary of the steps back to the forum so someone else can find it.
Search before you post, be descriptive, reply with extra information, and mark posts as solved.
Sticking to this formula will increase your chances of getting the help you need to enjoy Debian, and will increase the value of the contribution you are making.