Novice users may perceive that those who are more tech savvy never have a need to ask. On the contrary - the more you know the deeper holes you will dig for yourself and the more often you will have to look for answer and advice.
As with rest of thoughts posts this was kind of hovering around me for a long time and suddenly gained substance to put in words.
How to ask. How to get answer. How to escape emotionally unscratched (hard part).
Photo by alexanderdrachmann
How to ask right question
There are three parts to good question:
There is no more frustrating tech problem than unidentified one. Uncertainty is waste of precious time and resources.
Be ready to provide every excruciating detail about your issue - from model of hardware and version of software to how close your cat sleeps (I had one desktop's insides melted because of fur).
It is very probable that you did something wrong. No matter what kind of stupid things it was or how irrelevant you consider it to be – never omit or lie about details, especially if directly asked.
If you want to look smart get used to broken computer. Otherwise be honest and help them to help you.
“Nothing works” is not a question. Real question is story of what you are trying to do, where you fail and showing that you deserve an answer (getting let me google that for you links or RTFM in response is a sign that you don't).
How to deal with people
If you deal with support or online forum either you are likely to encounter those who meet [angry] people with questions on daily basis. Few can manage that and even less enjoy it. Rest are in for paycheck or ego.
The moment you try to push and demand you had lost your answer.
Always know who you are dealing with. Staying anonymous is basic technique of those who do not want to bother with you. Less of an issue online but by phone few things improve answer rate faster than politely asking whom you are speaking with (possibly with their position and department).
Never try to make things right. Even if you are treated like dirt it is going to be your fault for asking question. Save your nerves.
How to get answer
Second week into having my brain picked about connection problems in local network barely seeing Internet through consumer grade ADSL modem I decided it is time to ask properly. I found specialized forum, read stuff there for a day, posted in topic about that modem model (99 pages long, there are sure some issues with it) my precise question with as many details as I could provide.
Thirty minutes later my question was transferred to trash sub-forum by moderator who didn't like it. Without particular reason that made sense to me. I wanted to go ballistic.
Instead I politely said goodbye and left that forum for good. And briefly tweeted about [censored] - safely out of moderator power reach.
Key moment – to get answer you have to find person who is willing to give you one. Never waste your time on those who are not. Keep looking until you find someone who does.
Do not be shy to ask, do not become frustrated about anything and sooner or later you will find someone who would be happy and qualified to help you. World is simply so big that such people statistically exist. :)