Getting help for dummies
Again and again the same problem arises on Nokia Developer's discussion boards: developers are asking immediate help for problems that they fail to describe properly. This article is intended as a "how to" guide for new discussion board users (and for some of the old ones).
What to do
- Search the existing posts, the official knowledge base and the Wiki for existing material that covers at least party your existing problem. It might be the first time you are seeing that particular problem but you are likely not the first one to face it.
- If the information is not available, create a new thread in the appropriate forum and post your question.
- Provide background information about your development configuration: SDK used, targeted device, tools used (if you are reporting a build error)
- Be specific about the error you are seeing:
- which API call returns an error?
- what the error value is?
- what is the API that causes the application to panic?
- what was the panic message?
- There is no such thing as "... and nothing happens". See the Extended panic code page for more information on how to reveal some hidden error messages.
- Attach relevant source code but also provide a minimal formatting to make it easy to read (use [CODE][/CODE] tags)
- Be polite.
- All the questions are answered sooner or later. Demanding and answer or asking for a particular user to comment on your question is both useless and impolite. As for using the appropriate language for a civil conversation it goes without saying.
What NOT to do
- Do not post the same question in multiple threads.
- If posting in the wrong thread send an email to the forum moderators and ask for the wrong thread to be deleted/moved. Make also a note in the thread so you don't get this advice from all those noticing the inappropriate location :)
- Initiating a duplicate thread is only excusable when one of the copies is in the alternative-language forums, written in the language used in that forum.
- Post your messages using the appropriate language for the targeted forum.
- This is generally English, or at least the closest thing to it that we can manage. :)
- When a forum is available in your native language you are welcome to use it.
- While the amount of text one can enter into a post is limited it is nothing compared with the size of an SMS therefore abbreviated messages such as "here u get ans only ur phone problems ok so u can go here for get comp solv" have no justification on this forum.
- Carbide, CodeWarrior or Microsoft Visual Studio are just IDEs, they are largely irrelevant for whatever happens when you build your application and definitely irrelevant for errors occurred at run time. It does not hurt to mention them but make sure is not the only configuration info you provide.
- Don't dump your entire project in a Discussion Boards post.
- It is unlikely that someone will spend the time creating a project out of it. You should rather use an existing Nokia Developer example that is related to the feature you are trying to implement and provide the instructions on how the project can be quickly modified so that it reproduces the problem.
- Don't ask for answers to be sent by e-mail
- The entire point of participating to a forum is to share information and learn form one's experience and mistakes. A private e-mail exchange blocks all the other forum participants from learning something from your current problem.
- Don't hold contributors liable for potentially incorrect information
- Developer's contribution to the Discussion Boards are voluntary and on best effort bases. Occasionally they might be wrong despite of their good intentions.
- Don't post files that you do not own.
- Don't use this board to post (or link to) files that you do not own, be it Nokia's internal APIs, reverse engineered libraries or cracked applications.
- Don't post spam
What would be nice to do
- Properly configure your account.
- Make sure to enable your e-mailing option if you do want to allow other-s to contact you by email. Is save you the trouble of exposing your e-mail address in clear within the posted messages.
- Adding location informations would be great too. I will always prioritize my answers for developers from my native country. ;)
- Avoid using large fonts and unnecessary formatting (bold letters, weird colors ...). Avoid writing in ALL CAPS.
- Should I answer a complicated technical question to somebody that does not seem to be able to handle a keyboard? Should I assume that you are visually impaired and therefore I should use the same big font?
- Redirect end-user questions towards dedicated sites such as Nokia Care and the End-User Discussion Forums.
- Don't assume that everybody asking something on this forum is a developer and don't assume that an end-user has the required technical background to be able to handle some of your otherwise well intentioned advices.