Last updated April 25, 2012.
Please do NOT post test pages. Drupal.org is a production site and you will not be able to delete content once you post it.
Note, that some questions can only be answered when built on an understanding of other core concepts. If you are missing core concepts or looking for a simple answer to a hard question, no amount of short forum posts will provide a good answer.
However, the following best practice tips can make participating in the forums a more pleasurable and productive experience for everyone:
Please see the documentation before posting. #
If it's obvious your question could easily be answered by browsing or quickly searching the handbook, it will likely be ignored. Likewise, if people provide a link to the information, please read it. If you have further questions after reading, then try and refine your post further.
Do your homework. #
Be sure to at least try to solve your problem before posting to the forums. Why would anyone take the time to help you if you're unwilling to help yourself?
Don't expect anyone to take more time to answer the question than you did to ask it. #
Simply stated, if you state a problem in one sentence but the answer would take 2 pages to explain, your post may be ignored, or if you are lucky, merely given a link to the handbook. This is particularly true for questions of the "Hi, I'm brand new to web design how do I make www.best-site-ever.com with drupal?" variety.
Always use context-sensitive forum post titles. #
Good titles are just as important in forum posting as they are in email. Many newbies believe that the easiest way to get support is to scream "HELP!!!" in all caps in a subject line. However, the Drupal forums and issues are very active. Many Drupal members check the tracker page and scan the titles. They prioritize how they may use their limited time by offering support where they feel they can provide direct assistance. So a post like "Getting error X in installation" or "Help with thinking through corporate Internet site design" is more likely to attract someone who can assist with your problem.
Be specific. #
Large open ended questions like "how to i use the x module" or "how do i make a community site" are far too generic and time consuming to answer in a forum thread effectively. They will likely simply be ignored or replied to with a request for more details. Why not save yourself, and the community, this wasted effort and ask clear answerable questions in the first place? Instead of "how do i do i use the x module", ask something like "i'm trying to use the x module, i've read the available docs, checked the issue queue, i've already done a, b, and c but I still can't figure out how to do y.".
Provide relevant details. #
Often, before someone may be able to assist you, they will need to know the Drupal version number, the hosting environment, the specific error generated, and other relevant information. Incomplete support requests just end up requiring a volley of question and answer, lengthening the time it takes to resolve an issue-- if you receive a reply at all. No one should have to become Sherlock Holmes to figure out what you're asking for. You can find a status report in the administration screen, ready to be pasted into a forum topic. Of course you should still provide enough context for the information to be useful.
Describe what you've done so far. #
Not only will this avoid wasting everyone's time by suggesting things you've tried, it will demonstrate a willingness and capability to help yourself, and possibly give an indication of your experience level so the answers can be worded appropriately without blinding you with jargon.
How to ask questions the smart way
Don't repost and/or crosspost the same question. #
Repeatedly reposting the same question will not benefit you in any way. Besides irritating the community, it will only fragment the support you receive, waste precious volunteer resources answering the same question multiple times, and make it more difficult for other users to find the correct information in the future. If you wish to have a post moved, create an issue in the webmaster's issue queue.
Please don't bump a topic more than once in a day. #
If you don't receive a response it is acceptable to 'bump' your own post, preferably with additional information, in order to keep it on the active list. However, no more than once in 24 hours and do not get petulant or sarcastic and complain about the community if your problem isn't responded to immediately. Everyone here is a volunteer-- that's a sure fire turn-off and you'll be alienating the very people you're asking to help you.
Ignore flames and rude tones. #
Drupal is a large international community. Since many members are not native English speakers, realize that a brusque tone may be a result of language differences and should not be immediately interpreted as rude. Regardless, if you feel like another user has flamed you, the best response is to ignore the offense and continue working toward discussing productive solutions.
You get more bees with honey than with vinegar. #
While it is very easy to become frustrated when grappling with a problem, remember that Drupal community members donate their time in offering support. People are more likely to respond to posts which ask nicely for assistance over those that demand it or complain. Politeness can make a difference.
Don't use excessive punctuation and/or capitals. #
Most experienced forum users find excessive punctuation and capitals irritating and doing so will likely have exactly the opposite effect of what you're trying to do.
Enable your contact tab. #
So that people may offer assistance privately by email, be sure to edit your user account and check the Personal contact form box. This feature does not share your email address, but rather forwards the message to you via drupal.org.
If you solve your problem, please follow-up, explain, and prepend '[Solved]' to the subject. #
Many times people open a question, get several suggestions on troubleshooting, then either disappear or follow up with "It's OK, the problem is solved now!" Please at least be polite enough to let the board know which of the solutions fixed it for you, or if it was something else altogether, or even if it was just a "Doh!" mistake. This is to help others that may encounter the same problem you did. If it exists, provide a link to the documentation or discussion that helped you, so others can find it when searching. It's common that the same problem can be described in many ways, and your search phrases or issue title may be different from the ones that the writer was thinking of when they wrote the guides. You can add a cross-reference from your post to a better one ... if you have found it.
This also prevents your problem post from being a frustrating dead-end for later seekers, and your problem becomes part of the solution!
A really helpful addition to improving the docs would be a great addition to your question. #
For example: "I was looking at pages X,Y,Z in the handbook, but couldn't see/understand the answer I expected to find there".
This would enable the support folk to copy a summary of their forum answers to the FAQ or handbook pages where they will be the most use!
Terminology and mind-maps differ between the reader and writer, so if you can let us know where you expect to find the answer ... we can copy/link it to there for next time.
Of course, this does assume you did some of your own research first ;-)
With volunteer support, not everyone gets a response. #
And finally, if your post has gone unanswered, perhaps no one that has read your post has the solution to your problem. Whining or complaining about it will more than likely not get you an answer and may harm your chances of getting assistance in the future. You might also consider whether the title for the post is specific enough. And if you feel like support response could be better on drupal.org, please donate some of your time, too, to answering support questions. In a volunteer effort, the only way to improve support is for everyone to participate.
- Terminology: Use Google’s "define:" tag (ie define: taxonomy) to get the definition of unfamiliar words or drupal.org's Glossary for drupal specific jargon.
- HowTo: Make A GOOD issue report
- How to write a bug report. Try to understand the difference between an actual bug - which belongs in the project issues queues - and a problem or query that's giving you unwanted behavior or just not working exactly like you want it to today. Programmers don't like it when the lack of a custom option you have just thought of is called an error. Nor if the option exists and you didn't see it, although that's often easy to answer, and a suggestion as to what would be better documentation/UI may be appreciated.
- How to Troubleshoot
- Troubleshooting FAQ
- Six tips to get help with your code
- How to narrow your search to just the forum boards or the documentation handbooks.
- The classic guide to asking smart questions in support forums (the tone is harsh, but the info is quite good).
- Identifying and eliminating "Help Vampires" By Amy Hoy.