Asking is ultimately one of the most important ways for you to succeed. You shall not be afraid to ask. You shall ask often. Ask for help and for a raise, ask for an advice and ask questions. Asking is very powerful. Not only it might help you to get an answer, you may as well receive something that is a lot more valuable, something you haven’t even thought of before. Asking helps you to make your way. It helps others to understand you better. Asking connects people. In English we say, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” Russians say, “Nobody punches your nose for asking.” I am sure that other cultures have a similar saying.
I have been hanging out on Stack Overflow, a nice Q&A site, for about two years now, and have answered some 770 questions. Not a lot, but I have enjoyed each and every question I have either answered or at least tried to answer. Yet my questions are what I am proud of the most. They were most helpful, at least for me. Sometimes, answering a question creates more questions and leads to a research, helps to learn something new — be that a programming trick, a new technology, a new interesting person that you didn’t know before. It is always better to ask than not to ask. In any case it makes you richer.
OK, now it sounds like a crap from a cheap inspiration book. Things cannot be that simple. Indeed there is a catch to asking — just asking doesn’t really get you anywhere. You want people to be interested in your question, you want the question to be wise, you want your question to make others think, and oftentimes you want your question to be answered.
Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a bad question” clearly had never seen the Internet.
— Andrew Barber
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. And just like with everything else, in order for your questions to make you successful, some efforts from you are required. Of course nobody knows everything, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know”. But you must at least show some efforts, some respect to those who read the question, or those who have already answered it million times over. There is a lot of great information about how to ask smart questions, and just in case you haven’t read it already, below are some links to a great tutorials about how to ask great questions. Trust me, you won’t waste your time by reading them. Those tutorials will definitely help you to succeed whatever your goals are:
- How To Ask Questions The Smart Way by Eric Steven Raymond
- Learning To Ask The Right Question by Steve Denning, Forbes
- What have You tried so far? by Matt Gemmell
- The Art of Asking Powerful Questions
And if you are looking for the right place to ask your questions online, you might find one of the Stack Exchange Q&A sites very useful. Whether you are into LEGO, Marital Arts, Politics or Physics, interested in Chemistry, or History, or the history of chemistry, or whatever that is you are interested in – there is a web site for it.
Hope it helps. Good Luck!