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Tutorial:Brief Reminder On How To Ask A Good Question
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19 months ago
ATpoint 17k

Asking good and well-formatted questions is key to motivate the community to invest time and effort in order to provide elaborate answers. There are already good and extensive tutorials available on key features such as How To Ask Good Questions On Technical And Scientific Forums and How to add images to a Biostars post. In this post, I want to provide a brief reminder of a few key elements that will improve the quality of your question:

Show Effort

The (IMHO) most important point when posting questions is to demonstrate that you indeed already invested effort into solving the question yourself. Show what steps you have already performed, point out the problems you encountered and clearly state what kind of solution you expect from the community. Low-effort questions do not motivate the community to invest time into your problem and might even annoy potentials contributers, especially those who frequently visit Biostars and therefore are exposed to those kind of low-effort questions on a regular basis. While investing quality time to clearly explain the problems you encountered, you force yourself to critically review the steps you've taken and might eventually solve the problem before even submitting the question. Showing effort also includes going through your final question again before submitting it, checking for typos and language. Most of us are non-native english speakers so language issues towards vocabulary and grammar are not uncommon (and no one will ever criticize you for it), but using google to look up the correct spelling of words should be the minimal standard one can expect.

Note: Homework questions will be closed by most moderators if no effort is demonstrated!

Provide appropriate material

Before answering a question, the community must understand the underlying problem. For this, it is required that you provide appropriate background information and material. Typically, this requires more than one single sentence. When encountering programming/code issues, be sure to always provide the full command lines, software versions and error messages. Given you need help with manipulating data, provide a minimal example of the input and expected output data to reproduce the problem and allow testing of code. Please highlight both code and example data using the formatting bar:

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This improves readability and makes the post visually more appealing. Given that your questions requires embedding images, please make sure to follow How to add images to a Biostars post. In a nutshell, you have to upload the image to an external image hoster (e.g. ImageBB and Imgur), then copy the full link to the picture, and embed it with the Image button:

enter image description here

Use meaningful titles and tags

The title is the first element every user will see of your question. Please use meaningful keywords that describe the problem to attract users with the appropriate expertise and experience. Given you had an issue with the alignment software bwa mem while aligning paired-end NGS data, please write something like BWA mem fails to allocate memory in paired-end mode instead of cannot align data, please help. Appropriate tags could be bwa and alignment but not software error.

Following these simply rules will improve the overall appearance and quality of your question, hence motivating the community to invest time/effort, and therefore eventually help you to answer your question. When receiving help, please do not forget to show appreciation by upvoting good answers, and eventually accept the one (or all those) that solved the problem:

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tutorial Tutorial how-to • 804 views
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For R related question, usage of dput for minial example should be mandatory !

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Thanks for this ATpoint .

In addition: Ten Simple Rules for Getting Help from Online Scientific Communities

Also if you find the solution for your problem by yourself, please be so kind to report this. Other users may have the same problem and will be very glad to find a solution.

fin swimmer


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