Don’t ask to ask, just ask

From time to time, someone pops in and ask’s if someone is online and can help them,

User56: Can someone help me?

Which is bad for several reason. What the person is actually asking here is,

User56: Any experts around who are willing to commit
into looking into my problem, whatever that may
turn out to be, even if it’s not actually related
to this or that or if someone who doesn’t know antyhing
about this or that could actually answer my question?

There are plenty of reasons why people who DO have the knowledge would not admit to it. By asking, you’re asking for more than what you think you’re asking.

You’re asking people to take responsibility. You’re questioning people’s confidence in their abilities. You’re also unnecessarily walling other people out. I often answer questions related to languages or libraries I have never used, because the answers are (in a programmer kind of way) common sense.

Alternatively, it can be seen as..

User56: I have a question about this or that but I’m too lazy to
actually formalize it in words unless there’s
someone on the channel who might be able to
answer it.

..which is just lazy. If you’re not willing to do the work to solve your problem, why should we?

The solution is not to ask to ask, but just to ask. Someone who is idling on the channel and only every now and then glances what’s going on is unlikely to answer to your “asking to ask” question, but your actual problem description may pique their interest and get them to answer.

So, to repeat;
Don’t ask to ask. Just ask.

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