RE: Coaching less experienced folks on asking good questions

Subject: RE: Coaching less experienced folks on asking good questions
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: Eric Ray <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>, techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 14:16:15 -0800

Eric Ray wrote:

> I was coaching a relatively new college hire the other day on asking good
> questions
> and communicating effectively, and thought it might be good to get other
> perspectives.
>
> I tend to point folks to http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
> , which
> is spot-on IMHO, but pretty harsh and not exactly er....nurturing.

Pointing folks to the writings of Eric S. Raymond (a.k.a. "esr") -- any writings of Eric S. Raymond -- is a Very Good Thing to do. And that essay is perfect for the purpose you propose. Not being nurturing is an essential part of the lesson it teaches.

Phil thinks "any question is a good question" and suggests providing a "supportive team environment." A question that the asker could have researched and at least learned enough about to ask more intelligently is not a good question. It's a _lazy_ question, and it exhibits a lack of respect for the people being asked.

Engineers being asked stupid questions rarely, if ever, provide a "supportive team environment." They're much more likely to form a low opinion of the stupid question asker (and of you for encouraging such wastes of their time) and to become quite unhelpful in the future.

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
303-223-5111
------
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom
303-903-6372
------






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References:
Coaching less experienced folks on asking good questions: From: Eric Ray

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