How to start a good discussion?

I am trying to put together a guide to good posting here to help newcomers to the forum. I am interested in any ideas you have about what makes for a good post or a bad post for you.
Thanks a million.

Sort of depends on the type of post, really… but in general, for the ‘get help’ sorts of posts…

  • If you’re asking for help:
    • Show us what you’ve done already, even if it’s wrong/broken. We’re here to help you fix your code, not write it for you. Showing us your code will give us a baseline of where we think your knowledge level is at, as well as the opportunity to help correct other issues that are going to happen once you’ve fixed the current one.
    • Don’t omit things. That piece of code between the two lines that you think doesn’t effect anything can be very important.
      • Do, however, omit passwords, server names, etc. Replace them with filler text. The forums are public, and you don’t want to put your password out there for the world to see.
    • Give the symptoms. “It doesn’t work” doesn’t tell us anything. “It spits out a blank instead of a 3” is much more informative, and will help us narrow down your problem a lot faster.
    • Expect to be given links to documentation. Especially if we feel your coding level is strong enough that you should understand it, we’re more likely to give you a link to help you along rather than replicate the document ourselves.
    • Don’t ask for illegal things, even if you’re trying to phrase it as though you’re not. If your code involves interacting with another website, make sure you’ve read their Terms of Service and that what you’re asking for help with is within those terms. If we feel your thread has or would potentially violate those Terms, we will refuse to assist you.
      • This also goes for those answering threads. Don’t advocate breaking another site’s ToS.
    • Use the Search Feature First. This especially applies to the vaguer “how do I…” sorts of questions. Generally speaking, you’re not the first one to ask the question.

Uhhhm…there may be more but that’s what my mind’s drawing up atm.


There’s a good article here, again aimed at coding-type questions:

It’s already been done.


yes @drsmith7725 a good post must be of user interest for examole if you are asking a question about Einstein’s typical equation no one will have interest in it so i think user friendly is the first key of a good post.

Excuse me for being rude but you need to learn the basics first yourself. Probably the first rule is to search for answers. When you do you will easily find the classic How To Ask Questions The Smart Way as has already been posted.

I am not a moderator and they can speak for themselves but they will probably appreciate you working with them. My guess is that it would be better to start by posting in Feedback about SitePoint on Discourse - Community - The SitePoint Forums to ask how you can help.

That would be rather difficult, as the thread was closed in October 2017. It was last active in 2015, and we have found over the years that dredging up ancient discussions is seldom useful.

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Sorry about that. I assumed there would be an official way to do things like that. So is it appropriate for members to take the initiative to create new guidelines for these forums?

Based on my experience people are more likely to disagree regardless of what I say so I think it is better to ask for the opposite of what is the likely answer. And that way people can never be sure what I am really thinking.

Members are free to create posts on any topic within the rules. If a member wants to write a posting guide for the forums, there’s nothing to stop them, but their advice would need to be in line with existing guidelines. SitePoint makes the actual rules for their forums. Members can’t change those, obviously, but they can offer suggestions if they think something can be improved.

It might be interesting to have a posting guide written by a newcomer to the forums. Discourse takes some getting used to, and a new member may well see things very differently to those of us who’ve been using it for several years now.

However, I’m not sure that was really @drsmith7725’s intent. They may well be intending to write a guide for their own forum, but have not made that clear. (Not everyone here speaks English as their first language, and even those of us who do use national variations.) Without further input from the OP, we don’t know the full intent.

For the record, our forum guidelines are here:

They contain links to various “how to” posting guides and further information about how the forum system works.

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