Asking questions


Everybody can tell the difference between a good question and a bad question, but still it's a skill that most people neglect to improve.

This is a mistake. Asking bad questions gives you worse answers, fewer answers and may damage relationships because the person you're asking sees your question as rude and lazy.

Here's how i differentiate between bad, good & great questions.

Bad questions


  • Starts with a warmup question
  • Unclear what is being asked
  • No relevant details included


  • Hey can you help me? -> Can you help me with working out?
  • Hey can i ask you a question? -> Can you fix the register method?

Starts with

Bad questions often start with a warmup question.

A warmup question is a question that asks for permission to ask or your commitment.
It's a waste of time and puts the responder in an annoying situation.

Asking the question without a warmup allows the responder to look at it in his own time without a back and fourth with you first.

example of a warmup question: "Hey, can i ask you a question?"


Bad questions are unclear about what is being asked

example : "The register method doesn't work, can you help me?"
This is an unclear question that lack details.

  • Is the user not being registered?
  • Is the welcome email not being sent?
  • Is the redirect not working?
  • ...

No details

Bad questions never contain relevant details.

  • Which emails have you tried to register?
  • Which usernames have you tried to register?
  • Is there an error message? What does it say?
  • Is the correct data arriving from Frontend -> Backend?

This is information that should be provided for the responder.
Not information he should have to drag out of you.

Asked by askholes

An askhole is someone who asks the same question repeatedly and never uses your response.

A common askhole question is "I wanna start working out can you help me?".

What is being asked here?

  • Is the person asking for help on how to build the habit of working out?
  • Is the person asking how to eat to build muscle?
  • Is the person asking how to eat to lose fat?
  • Is the person asking for a specific weight lifting routine to get stronger?

Not only are there no details but if you try to dig it out of the askhole they will respond "I don't know, i want to be in sick shape".

Even if you have the patience of a saint and answer exactly what the askhole wants they will still never act on it and ask you the same question in two months


Bad questions are rude.

You're asking someone for their time and expertise to help you.
Not putting effort into trying youself first or adding details forces the responder to do extra work dragging that out of you.
This is pure lazyness and it's rude.

Good questions

Asking a good question takes effort, as it should.

A good question is asked after the asker has put effort into attempting to solve the problem themselves and spent effort crafting a clear description with useful details.


  • Asker has attempted to solve it themselves
  • Specific about what is being asked
  • Useful details included
  • Eventually acted upon

Tip for asking good questions
Write down the question in detail in a separate window (If you're asking a friend on skype, write down the question in notepad first)

Contains details

A good question contain details about the problem, saving the responder the time and effort of having to drag it out of the asker.

  • What have you tried?
  • Why is this confusing you?
  • What are you expecting to happen?
  • What is actually happening?

Clear what is being asked

A good question is written in a way that makes it clear exactly what is being asked.

There should be no doubt exactly what you're asking for.
Don't be vauge

Example of a good question

"Hey, The welcome email isn't being sent to certain users when registering, after the register method is fired $user->email is null despite it being passed in by the user. Can you help me find why it's not being set?.

Steps to reproduce error

  1. Open postman
  2. Add these Cookies and Headers
  3. Send a request to (.../register) with the data {...}

Expected behavior

  • User is added to the database
  • A welcome email is sent to the newly registered user

Actual behavior

  • User is added to the databse
  • No welcome email is sent to the newly registered user

Extra info

  • I tried with these different emails (A, B , C)
  • If i log out the user object before the registration method the email is not null
  • I have made sure that there is no user already registered with this email"

This is a good question with useful extra info that makes it easy to start investigating as the responder.

Less techy example

"Hey, i have been working out for three months now but I'm not losing any weight.

I weigh myself every monday morning at the same time,
I run 5km 3 times a week and my diet consists of X Y Z.
I have tried reducing the amount I eat but it affects my energy levels to a point where it's not worth it for me.

Do you have any suggestions for how i could adjust my diet or a different workout routine to help me burn more fat?"

This is also a a good question because the asker has put effort into it themselves and it's clear what they need help with.

Great questions

A great question is a good question that is not asked.

The reason it's not asked is because you took such effort writing down the question it revealed the answer or something new to try before asking.