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How Not To Help Someone

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Folks, I've been seeing a trend lately of so-called help being anything but.


There are people who come to us with a problem looking for help, but the 'help' has been causing more harm than good.


I'm talking about folks answering without thinking or doing the research first. Giving folks answers that may damage their installs, or at least cause them to waste their time in frustration. Or answers that are rambling, incoherent, or have nothing to do with the problem at hand. And it also tends to be the same people doing it over and over. This is especially problematic for those looking for answers where English is not their primary language.


So, I'm going to suggest some ground rules...for both the person asking a question and the person answering the question.


First, for the person asking:


1) Flight sim communities in general tend to be a more mature crowd. What that means is that we expect to read full sentences, paragraphs, proper punctuation and capitalization. If you cannot be bothered to make the attempt to make yourself understood in a logical manner, we cannot be bothered to sort through the mess that is your post to help you. Yes, that includes folks for whom English is not a primary language. Most of us have been around long enough to know the difference between a person who is trying hard to make themselves understood and those who aren't...no matter what language they are translating from. We can also tell the difference between the occasional gaff (one of us is a notoriously bad speller...ahem) and someone who is not trying at all. 'L33T' speak may work in the ADD addled, 10-year old, spastic bunny hopping world of the FPS on your PS3, but it will not get you far here.


2) Please use Google, the search function here, and the Knowledge Base before you post. In addition, be familiar with your computer. Be familiar with the sim...I can't tell you how many times folks have had to answer the question about key assignments because someone couldn't be bothered to click Customize under the Options, Controls screen. Know what the heck Notepad, directories, files are. A PC is not a XBox 360, nor is it a MAC. They come in all shapes and sizes and operating systems. These series of sims have been around 6 years, with freeware mods almost as long. The sims, computers, and operating systems have constantly evolved, and mods released a long time ago may not work in current iterations of the sim. Being computer phobic will not help you here at all...remote tech support is a PITA, especially when those providing it are doing so on their free time.


3) After all that, if you still have not solved your problem, then post here in the proper location in the Forum (ie The Pub or the Knowledge Base is NOT the place to post your issue). State your computer specifications, what operating system, which sim you have and what patch level it's at. Specify if you are running any mods. Detail specifically what the problem you are seeing is and what factors you have checked, what troubleshooting you have done, what searches you have ran. The more information you post (screenshots can help), the sooner folks can narrow down what the problem is and help you.


4) Finally, if you get your problem solved, provide feedback and thank the folks that helped you. One, it's polite, and two, it may just help the next person who has your problem of being able to help themselves.



Second, for the person wanting to help:


1) The rule about using coherent language applies here too. If you do not do the skull sweat to make your answer as readable and as understandable as possible, the translation filters the asker may be using may not be able to make any sense of what you are trying to say. Keep your answer short and to the point...any extras keep out of the answer, or at least wait until the end of the post.


2) Help the poster help themselves. If it's a brand new guy (only a few posts), they may not know their way around. For the fairly simple stuff, help them...point them to the Knowledge Base (if it's a question already answered) or point them toward relevant threads. Insert specific links and help them with the search function (ie "run a search using this particular term"). Ask them for more information if it's needed to help troubleshoot.


3) Know what the heck you are talking about! Do NOT blindly suggest stuff without a logical train of thought. If it's for something complex, test it out yourself first! Recommend backups, insert caveats and explain exactly what the problem was and how it was solved. A 'shotgun' approach is confusing and frustrating for both parties. Keep it laser beam tight...the more variables you eliminate, the quicker you can come to a solution that makes sense.


4) An addition to step 3 - "Better to be thought of a fool, then open your mouth and remove all doubt." If you do not know how to help the person at all...then don't post. You can suggest a logical course of action to troubleshoot (or point them to specific parts of the Knowledge Base), but keep it polite, logical, and to the point. But do NOT suggest solutions if you have no idea of the problem...better to simply pass it by and let someone else help.


Hopefully this will result in less 'reinventing of the spinning wheels' for everyone...I may make this a sticky if folks find it useful.



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