How [u]Not[/u] to Ask a Question (Funny & Serious)


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Apr 16, 2021
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A discussion on How to Ask a Question already exists, however, what of How Not to Ask a Question? This topic seems yet to be covered despite being such an integral part of the online support forum experience. Admittedly, I did want to address this on a private blog, but a certain incident* inspired me to create a topic about this here. This is a necessary discourse as it relates more to how not to do something as opposed to how to do it.

In this thread, OP is rude, opinionated, and entitled, but above all, he does not communicate his question (I say "his" since I assume OP's male based on level of obnoxiousness -- no offence to the lesser fair of the sexes). Instead he asks for... I'm still not sure what he was asking, but this thread in LQ, (credits to Lord Boltar for spotting it) revealed what OP's desired end result was... and as can be carefully observed, it's sort of vaguely hinted at in the mess of contradictions and CAPS YELLING done throughout the thread, albeit nothing more than a wispy phantom of a shadow in the fog of text-based diarrhoea (and whilst, perhaps, one may accuse me of the same, I would remind you that at least I provide as reasonable level of prose and, in my admittedly-biased opinion, a decent level of humour).
The irony comes in here, where the correct answer was given. How do I know? Because I have had to manually install GRUB like this on my laptop (Dell Inspiron 3K-series) many times over the last ~6 years that I've had it, through countless fresh installs and bare-metal distro-testing. Not to mention all the other laptops I've repaired with this same bug. Anyway, OP continues on both forums to insist he knows better and eventually Chris kills the thread here and OP walks off steaming about, well, something. We'll never know what happened on LQ other than perhaps an equally-angry walk-out.

So, as I mentioned at the start of the preamble, I was going to blog something along these lines as a parody, but I realised I could provide this here, on this forum, as both educational material and entertainment. I invite anyone else to contribute their thoughts, too, that we may perhaps continue to expand upon and improve,

How Not to Ask a Question

1. USE LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS TO SHOW HOW FRUSTRATED YOU ARE. Remember, you want to really encourage people to read your entire, migraine-inducing unintelligible post.

2. Be vague and use generic terms that do not really fit, without actually asking any specific question at all either. Conversely, ask as many questions as possible in a single sentence in order to confuse everyone. How do I do this, you ask? Well, how do you avoid doing this, or rather how do you avoid doing so that you may deliberately do so, and what, once you have done so, do you do to avoid the question from not veering too far off-topic, and likewise bring it back in the most obscure of fashions? ...That's how.

3. Get angry with anyone who tries to help you. ESPECIALLY IF THEY GIVE YOU THE RIGHT SOLUTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Because that's not how you wanted to do it and you are way more intelligent than the entire human collective and you know better than any of the people -- that you are asking for assistance -- what the right way to do said thing is. That is why you need to ask their assistance. Your amazing intellect cannot be stifled by the dreariness of learning such trivial basics; no, you are a visionary with focus on the final end result, your brainchild, the beautiful product of copulation between two of your most potent synapses. Those people just cannot see that. This is why they should just give you teh codez so u can do it rite the way u no is rite.

4. Claim to be experienced when you are not. Tell people you have installed all 400+ Linux distributions 1000 times over, sometimes using just your nose as you shoot badguys with your Walther PPK in one hand while gripping the hand of a damsel about to fall to her doom with the other.

5. On the note of the above, you must make it perfectly clear that your "years of experience" automatically have awarded you understanding and wisdom beyond that of those commoners who actually read manuals, forum posts, etc. No, your ability to repetitively do the same things within one limited sphere of the computing ecosystem automatically makes you an expert in all spheres because you have "levelled up" and are now at least a Level 9 character.

6. Whatever you do, do not concede. No matter if you make a false statement that is completely impossible within the given parameters of the very laws of the universe itself. No, your subjective reality is the only one. It is not impossible because you have ordained so. That these plebs think that it is impossible shows both their inferiority and their lack of ability to understand your question.

7. And on that note, do not even entertain the possibility that you have worded something ambiguously, or -- and heaven forbid they're have the audacity to even think, let alone imply or, oh sweet Odin's wrath, express this view -- used poor English. Because, as a native English speaker who went to school, so your command of English is impeccable, unlike foreigners. And no writers nor editors on any given forum dear point out problems with you brilliant prose, flawless spelling, and masterful grasp of grammar.

8. Make sure to accuse these commoners of mistreating you, refusing to answer your question, and patronising you if they do not bend to your will. And if they claim not to fully grasp what it is that your will is, refer to points #2 and #7.

9. Shift the goal posts, change the premise, and reinvent the entire question, because you are clarifying what you want for these buffoons. Oh, yes, they may tell you that you are contradicting yourself, but this is a result of their tiny minds unable to grasp your vast intellect.

10. If they are showing any signs of resistance to you, be they staff or other users, confront them. If they are users, explain to them they are idiots. If they are staff, call their bluff; if they ban you or lock your thread, they are merely acknowledging your superiority.

11. Never ever place any output in [ code ] tags. Why should you bother making the lives of these serfs at your disposal any easier. They exist purely to help you.

And that, folks, is How Not to Ask a Question -- the ultimate learning resource. Hope this brings someone a laugh reading it.[/code]
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Loved it! Although not applicable to your example thread, I would also include a user providing a wall of text from the terminal... and not enclosing it within [code] [/code] tags (covered by #1 on your list). :eek::oops:;)
Loved it! Although not applicable to your example thread, I would also include a user providing a wall of text from the terminal... and not enclosing it within [code] [/code] tags (covered by #1 on your list). :eek::oops:;)
This isn't limited to that particular thread, these are general guidelines, so I've added your suggestion.
One of my most popular articles - but should probably be more popular:

I'm still not sure what he was asking, but this thread in LQ,
Oh, and the best part is he used some of the info he got from his post here to "ask" there lol I just skimmed through the whole thing, and just like in here he ended by saying "I solved it on my own" lol In the end, one user told him his problem was he was trying to install via EFI while booting in legacy mode, so much for "ten years of experience" lol There are two things I've always find quite amusing while using forums; users who in a (sometimes very) rude way try to tell you they know better than you do, and others "know-it-all" telling that you shouldn't be asking those questions, and mods who in a similar fashion attack you for no reason (guess that's three things lol) - I once was accused of "help vampirism", that was many years ago, even tho I clearly stated I was learning about that distro in a VM, not in my real computer. If their aim was to make people run away from using that distro, I think they succeded - funny thing is now they've made it more "approachable".
I once was accused of "help vampirism"
Had to look that up. Exacerbated by "I'm too lazy to look it up myself", which I've seen every now and again on different forums. Good way to make yourself a pariah.
Exacerbated by "I'm too lazy to look it up myself"
It also applied, apparently, to those who ask too many questions, because their answers were limited to "read the docs", which is fine, but then I did read the docs and had more questions because there were things that - by that time - weren't clear to me, so I did the logical thing; go back and ask again, but that was "help vampirism". I admit I was pretty much a "computer illiterate" who only knew how to turn on a computer, grab the mouse, point and click and hope the machine didn't explode lol So, yeah, I had a lot of questions, and wanted answers. :)
I was pretty much a "computer illiterate" who only knew how to turn on a computer, grab the mouse, point and click and hope the machine didn't explode

Then, by my estimation, you've come a long ways.
Then, by my estimation, you've come a long ways.
Yeah, well, I hope so, there's still so many things I don't know, but I can get by within my own limits. :)