Asking Effective Technical Questions

Jatin Tayal
2 min readAug 9, 2023

Asking effective technical questions is a skill every software engineer 🧑🏻‍💻 should have and it comes with pratice. Many times in our day to day work, we are stuck with a bug, unable to figure out what a certain piece of code 🤷🏻‍♂️ is doing or we might be facing issues in understanding the context of a particular project. In all of these situations we’ll most likely either reach out to our colleagues or post our queries on online platforms like StackOverflow.
Following are few of the tips I personally find useful while asking effective questions:

1. Provide context — Context helps people understand our questions better because they’ll know what situation we are dealing with and what are the constraints we are facing. For example — provide details like what dependencies’ version you are using, what configs, params you have set, what you have tried so far and why it didn’t work, etc.

2. Avoid using screenshots — Reading code in screenshots is hard 🤕 and difficult to copy if someone wants to try out few tweaks with our code. Instead we should use text to add code snippets ✅. There are many tools available to share code references such as codepen, github snippets, pastebin, etc

3. Provide detailed steps to reproduce the issue — If the question is about a bug then provide detailed steps on how one can reproduce the issue. This quickly helps the people to undertand our problem and enable them to provide useful insights to help us out.

4. Be proactive in providing responses — Many times we are asked for further information on the issue — be proactive in providing all the asked details to keep the momentum ⏩. If someone asks us to try something, tell them if it worked or not and what all issues you faced.

5. Beware of XY problem — More details on it here https://xyproblem.info/

--

--