How to ask a good question

Background

Some people come here and ask single-line SMS-style question (plus sometimes some random code) and expect "solution" without showing any effort made from their side.

Then all the good souls on this forum hopelessly try to figure out "what the heck original poster meant?"

So please follow the tips below so your question is more likely to get proper answer.


How to ask a good question

  1. Follow the forum rules first: How to use this site

    Please use the search field in this forum, there are high chances that somebody already had the same problem and the answer is already available. If you have follow-up question, reply in existing thread instead of creating new topic.

  2. Make your question clear and provide necessary information

    When asking a question, imagine yourself as you were to answer your question.
    Is your question clear enough?

    Does it include ALL necessary information (screenshots, formula) that is required for person who wants to help you, to know what the problem is, without seeing your computer screen?

    Do not leave the room for the guessing work.

    Here are some tips:

  • what did you do? (describe everything step by step, include formula that you used if any)
  • what did you expect as a result?
  • why do you need that to happen?
  • what actually happened as a result instead? (use screenshots as picture is worth 1000 words)
  • what are the challenges?

    Be polite when asking questions. Use proper grammar and avoid spelling mistakes.
  1. Post the code that you wrote

    Use code tags so your formula is properly displayed. If the code produces some unexpected output, please include the snapshot of chart or Analysis and explain why do you think it is incorrect

    If you want to comment on somebody's else code you need to provide original reference (where did you get the code from)

  2. Give us all the background Information and explain the GOAL you want to accomplish

    Pretty often to give proper solution, it is very important to know why you want to do something. Usually there are dozens of ways to achieve the same thing and best solution depends on knowing exactly why you need to do something.

    Without knowing the background we are lost in our guesses and assumptions which may be totally incorrect and we will be wasting our time and your time too.

  3. Show your own effort

    It is important to state your skill level with AFL and general programming but emphasizing and starting posts using terms like newbie, amateur in return for free code will not help. Instead back yourself up with the research and links to manual and forum that you have read and tested.

Lastly, if you ever wanted longer advice on asking a good question you can find it here: How To Ask Questions The Smart Way (there is a lot of really good stuff there)

19 Likes

The Wikipedia has also good article on that subject:

In short:

  1. describe your goal
  2. describe what seems to be the problem
  3. post a minimal, but working code demonstrating the problem
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One must not forget about absolute basics like:

  1. including exact VERSION numbers (don't say "latest" - it means nothing)
  2. including minimum, but working reproducible example of the formula that shows the problem that can be copy-pasted and run without modification
  3. better yet, in case of Analysis (backtest/exploration/optimization), save entire PROJECT FILE (File->Save As...) into .APX file and attach it so one can just load the project (this includes formula and settings)
  4. specifying exactly WHAT DATA you are using (or better yet do the test on Yahoo data, so it is reproducible by anyone, not only person having access to some esoteric data).

In short your post must make it EASY and QUICK for anybody to reproduce the issue you are having without ANY effort. Remember it is you who is asking for help. And it is your task to make it easy to help you.

9 Likes

Since some people are afraid of posting their "super secret" formulas...

For what it is worth: when I ask for "full formula" I don't ask for your "secret sauce" or magic Coca-Cola recipe. I don't need to see any holy grail that you invented. What I need is an working example formula (artificial without your "secret sauce") that is enough to reproduce the problem.

The formula that can be copy-pasted without changes and run to reproduce the problem.

It does not need to be profitable, it does not need to include your "magic ingredients". I don't care about that stuff. Remove them. The shorter it is the better. What is needed is shortest possible, working formula to be copy-pasted without changes and run and that it shows the issue in reproducible way.

11 Likes