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The Pragmatic Programmer : Care and Cultivation of Gurus

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Just flicking through the book just now and I came across this snip about asking for help on the internet. It pretty much sums up everything we ask of our CodeRanch members when asking for help here on the Ranch. Wonderful!

The Pragmatic Programmer wrote:Care and Cultivation of Gurus

With the global adoption of the Internet, gurus suddenly are as close as your Enter key. So, how do you find one, and how do you get one to talk with you?
We find there are some simple tricks.

  • Know exactly what you want to ask, and be as specific as you can be.
  • Frame your question carefully and politely. Remember that you're asking a favor; don't seem to be demanding an answer.
  • Once you've framed your questioned, stop and look again for the answer. Pick out some keywords and search the web. Look for appropriate FAQs (lists of frequently asked questions with answers).
  • Decide if you want to ask publicly or privately. Usenet news-groups are wonderful meeting places for experts on just about any topic, but some people are wary of these groups' public nature. Alternatively, you can always e-mail your guru directly. Either way, use a meaningful subject line. ("Need Help!!!" doesn't cut it.)
  • Sit back and be patient. People are busy, and it may take days to get a specific answer.

  • Finally, please be sure to thank anyone who responds you. And if you see people asking questions you can answer, play your part and participate.

    Just replace 'Usenet news-groups' with 'CodeRanch forums'
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    Since the book was published (mine says 2000) before social networks like Twitter and G+ were ever even conceived and before blogs became a "thing", I would add that you should try to stay plugged in to what the Gurus are into these days. There are so many things to keep up with and sometimes going through Twitter updates and G+ updates is like trying to take a sip from a firehose but there are things I have learned about from the people that I follow that I never would have learned about otherwise.
    Every plan is a little cooler if you have a blimp. And a tiny ad.
    Free, earth friendly heat - from the CodeRanch trailboss
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