# Are you reluctant to answer questions? Don't be.

#### Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,289
[NOTE: There is absolutely nothing official about this post, it is an expression of my opinion and can be taken as advice I would give anyone who asked.]

In a different thread some people expressed an initial reluctance to answer questions here.

This is understandable. There are various reasons why someone might feel unequal to helping, particularly if they consider themselves a neophyte. The idea of getting it wrong is a bit intimidating, and the social ramifications of overstepping are off-putting, but I am going to suggest you should go ahead and answer anyway.

First of all, of course don't answer authoritatively if you are unsure. That's a no-brainer. Also, if you have nothing but a weak guess, that's probably not going to help. But, if you think you have a good answer, or a part of one, or even a fruitful direction to explore—particularly if no one else has responded for a while—then say something.

A disclaimer "I have limited experience with X but it seems to me..." or "I had something similar and it may not be the same but..."—you get the idea.

But there's more. One of the things that makes helping so valuable and rewarding is that it teaches you. If you think you have a possible answer, research it! Look to see if your idea has some backing on the net in other cases. Look for the details, make sure you get them right before answering.

The secret to being a wizard isn't knowing everything, it's knowing where to find the answers. It's recognizing patterns and following clues. You can do that before you answer, and often you can include sources you find with more information.

So, if you have an idea you think will be helpful, don't just sit by and keep it to yourself, say something. Say it with a disclaimer if you feel the need, say it with backing links to add more information, but go ahead and start helping, you will add a lot to this forum if you do it right.

I don't think it is necessary to add that jumping into an ongoing thread with something completely on a different track that you are not sure is helpful will not be... helpful. Supporting the current thread with more information always is.

ALSO:

#10
Do not jump into a thread with many replies and give an answer based on reading only the original post. You will most likely end up humiliated.
#13
One of the many problems is normally language barrier...

Last edited:

#### Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
19,019
A willingness to answer questions is often the result of the environments in which we learned our craft. In a collaborative entrepreneurial environment answering questions and throwing out ideas is the road to success. The opposite is a highly structured hierarchical environment where everything you say has corporate political implications. I can tell you which environment I prefer.

Last edited:

#### Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,289
A willingness to answer questions is often the result of the environments in which we learned our craft. In a collaborative entrepreneurial environment answering questions and throwing out idea is the road to success. The opposite is a highly structured hierarchical environment where everything you say has corporate political implications. I can tell you which environment I prefer.
I have the impression you are the shy and retiring type. I have observed you are always circumspect when suggesting something potentially controversial.

I type that with a straight face, too.

#### Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
19,019
I have the impression you are the shy and retiring type. I have observed you are always circumspect when suggesting something potentially controversial.

I type that with a straight face, too.
It can be hard, sometimes, for people to distinguish the difference between an attack on their idea and an attack on their person. I do try, sometimes without success, to keep to the former rather than the latter.

#### Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,289
It can be hard, sometimes, for people to distinguish the difference between an attack on their idea and an attack on their person. I do try, sometimes without success, to keep to the former rather than the latter.
You are nothing if not direct. After reading your posts for some time, I don't think you are any more likely to get personal than average but your presentation does fail to soften any blow, perceived or actual.

#### MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,805
AAC forum is a community of members helping members regardless of their level of knowledge and experience, whether student, hobbyist, professional, DIY, or someone simply trying to fix a broken appliance.

Members are encouraged to assist each other by providing helpful, constructive and polite responses. Right or wrong, the good thing is answers are always peer reviewed and one can always learn even when mistakes are made.

There are three kinds of appropriate responses:

To provide a better explanation and understanding on a given topic
Everyone has a different perspective and a different way of explaining something. We all have different communication and learning styles and what works for one student may not be appropriate for another.

To provide an answer based on one's opinion
If you are unsure of the correctness of your response or think that your answer is an alternative to other answers then you should include:
I think that...
I believe that...
It is my opinion that...

The good news is we can all learn from another way of looking at something from a different perspective.

To provide an authoritative response based on knowledge and experience
We all have different levels of knowledge and experience. We all have or had to start from square one. You do not have to be the expert. You may feel that your knowledge base provides you with what you perceive is the correct answer. How you communicate that response is much more important than stating the correct answer.

Finally, be civil and polite when refuting another member's answer. Is your response meaningful and helpful to the conversation? Is your response civil and non-condescending? Think twice, three times, before hitting Reply. Walk away from the computer and rethink your objective and purpose.

Above all, AAC forum is All About Communicating, learning and sharing our knowledge and experiences in a very broad field that impact all of our lives everyday.

#### Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,289
AAC forum is a community of members helping members regardless of their level of knowledge and experience, whether student, hobbyist professional, DIY, or someone simply trying to fix a broken appliance.

Members are encouraged to assist each other by providing helpful, constructive and polite responses. Right or wrong, the good thing is answers are always peer reviewed and one can always learn even when mistakes are made.

There are three kinds of appropriate responses:

To provide a better explanation and understanding on a given topic
Everyone has a different perspective and a different way of explaining something. We all have different communication and learning styles and what works for one student may not be appropriate for another.

To provide an answer based on one's opinion
If you are unsure of the correctness of your response or think that your answer is an alternative to other answers then you should include:
I think that...
I believe that...
It is my opinion that...

The good news is we can all learn from another way of looking at something from a different perspective.

To provide an authoritative response based on knowledge and experience
We all have different levels of knowledge and experience. We all have or had to start from square one. You do not have to be the expert. You may feel that your knowledge base provides you with what you perceive is the correct answer. How you communicate that response is much more important than stating the correct answer.

Finally, be civil and polite when refuting another member's answer. Is your response meaningful and helpful to the conversation? Is your response civil and non-condescending? Think twice, three times, before hitting Reply. Walk away from the computer and rethink your objective and purpose.

Above all, AAC forum is All About Communicating, learning and sharing our knowledge and experiences in a very broad field that impact all of our lives everyday.
Thanks, @MrChips thanks clear and concise.

#### ElectricSpidey

Joined Dec 2, 2017
2,153
I'm not afraid of answering questions...but I am getting tired of being ignored after spending time trying to help.

And I'm probably guilty of the same thing, but I try not to be.

#### Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,289
I'm not afraid of answering questions...but I am getting tired of being ignored after spending time trying to help.

And I'm probably guilty of the same thing, but I try not to be.
I was mostly addressing new members who haven't found their helping feet yet. Though there may well be lurkers who aren't new here at all...

#### BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,507
One thing not to do:

Do not jump into a thread with many replies and give an answer based on reading only the original post. You will most likely end up humiliated. Believe me, I speak from experience

Bob

#### Ian Rogers

Joined Dec 12, 2012
1,015
I normally have no objection to being a first responder... On "An Other" site I very frequently do..

The main reason members refrain from first response is there is always the guy waiting to pounce..
If you know the answer, why wait to humiliate others trying to help.. There isn't even the "I agree but here's my stance" We just get. "No no no you're wrong".. And that does me nut in... I am often wrong on analogue stuff, but if I first response, at least another "decent" member can wade in and help.....

#### Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,289
I normally have no objection to being a first responder... On "An Other" site I very frequently do..

The main reason members refrain from first response is there is always the guy waiting to pounce..
If you know the answer, why wait to humiliate others trying to help.. There isn't even the "I agree but here's my stance" We just get. "No no no you're wrong".. And that does me nut in... I am often wrong on analogue stuff, but if I first response, at least another "decent" member can wade in and help.....
This is a good point. I find myself reluctant to answer even when I have a good idea of the answer. What I will normally do in that case is ask clarifying questions to help ensure my answer is, in fact, reliable. Even if I don't end up providing the right answer, the additional information helps others to answer better.

Many times I can do mind reading and other psychic things to fill in the missing information correctly, but it's better to help the questioner by getting them do provide a better version of the question, often by improving their own analysis. It's another thing you can help teach people: how to ask a question.

#### Ian Rogers

Joined Dec 12, 2012
1,015
One of the many problems is normally language barrier... I normally spot these a mile off, but there are one or two who can be downright nasty.. No wonder so many threads are left in limbo.. The OP has run for the hills while the elitists carry on arguing about who's right... Most of these guys have a really small language threshold, and normally a small selection of components..

One of the jobs of first responder is to "try" and get more information across before the dam breaks.. I see many trying to use LM741 opamps... They get laughed outta here... That's all they can get... " Oooh go and use a rail to rail.. I nice shiny new type"

It actually says.. remember the human in the reply box...

#### Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,289
One of the many problems is normally language barrier... I normally spot these a mile off, but there are one or two who can be downright nasty.. No wonder so many threads are left in limbo.. The OP has run for the hills while the elitists carry on arguing about who's right... Most of these guys have a really small language threshold, and normally a small selection of components..

One of the jobs of first responder is to "try" and get more information across before the dam breaks.. I see many trying to use LM741 opamps... They get laughed outta here... That's all they can get... " Oooh go and use a rail to rail.. I nice shiny new type"

It actually says.. remember the human in the reply box...
This is a good reminder. There are more constraints than the strict engineering constraints. There's language which limits the complexity of communication, there's availability of parts which sometimes means scrounging or using what is in hand, there's the time someone can invest in a project, and there's also personality—not everyone can deal with a pile on even if they aren't the target.

Really helping has to take these things, even the soft ones, into account. The "ideal" solution isn't necessarily the one you'd prefer, it's the one that is possible within the constraints of the questioner.

On the other hand, there are some cases where those constraints are entirely arbitrary and counterproductive. If you can't convince the TS of this, moving on is probably the best bet.

Thanks for point this out, @Ian Rogers

#### Ian Rogers

Joined Dec 12, 2012
1,015
WOW... He's met the same crew then...

#### ZCochran98

Joined Jul 24, 2018
207
Personally, I generally post responses only when I am fully confident I completely understand the question or the solution. While I've got my $80k pieces of paper saying I know what I'm talking about (BS in physics and BS in EE, for whatever that's worth...) and am finishing my graduate degree (just had my Master's Thesis defense last week), I am generally not sufficiently-confident in my own knowledge or abilities yet and lack "real-world" experience enough to properly answer a great many of the questions here. There are times that I have an answer (or I think I do), but for whatever reason determine that it's not helpful or would come across as unintentionally condescending (not that I belittle the questioner, but the way I write is often times extremely blunt and "hyper-formal" so it can seem condescending) or, my biggest fear when answering, appearing as though I'm going "look at me and how smart I am!" I used to be that kind of person; I don't want to be it again. I'm more than happy to answer questions or provide my two cents on a subject (such as this one!), but I am also gravely concerned with my ability to answer or communicate them correctly, given my overall lack of experience, comparatively-speaking.... So, instead, for the moment, I'm content to sit back and read answers for the most part. Learn a thing or two from the more experienced members. Thread Starter #### Ya’akov Joined Jan 27, 2019 6,289 I'm more than happy to answer questions or provide my two cents on a subject (such as this one!), but I am also gravely concerned with my ability to answer or communicate them correctly, given my overall lack of experience, comparatively-speaking.... Some questions aren't ambiguous, just factual. That's always an opportunity to give some help. #### MrChips Joined Oct 2, 2009 26,805 Personally, I generally post responses only when I am fully confident I completely understand the question or the solution. While I've got my$80k pieces of paper saying I know what I'm talking about (BS in physics and BS in EE, for whatever that's worth...) and am finishing my graduate degree (just had my Master's Thesis defense last week), I am generally not sufficiently-confident in my own knowledge or abilities yet and lack "real-world" experience enough to properly answer a great many of the questions here.

There are times that I have an answer (or I think I do), but for whatever reason determine that it's not helpful or would come across as unintentionally condescending (not that I belittle the questioner, but the way I write is often times extremely blunt and "hyper-formal" so it can seem condescending) or, my biggest fear when answering, appearing as though I'm going "look at me and how smart I am!" I used to be that kind of person; I don't want to be it again.

I'm more than happy to answer questions or provide my two cents on a subject (such as this one!), but I am also gravely concerned with my ability to answer or communicate them correctly, given my overall lack of experience, comparatively-speaking....

So, instead, for the moment, I'm content to sit back and read answers for the most part. Learn a thing or two from the more experienced members.
And that is ok too.

#### Ian Rogers

Joined Dec 12, 2012
1,015
I don't mind folk thinking I'm nuts... I have "big boy" pants, my chin can take it. If I'm wrong, I'll freely admit it.. As the years go by, that is more frequent... I try and engage thought before mouth, but sometimes fail.. So even if I get trolled ( cos that's what it is) I have plenty of salt..