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How to ask a good question?

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#1

This is a little overdue, but hey, better late than never :wink:

Below you’ll find a proposal for a pinned topic in Rookies(?) section.
It’s mostly inspired by SO help center, but changed to accomodate UiPath environment.
Feel free to suggest changes etc. (or edit the topic directly - history is there anyway :slight_smile: ) and once Moderators feel it’s ok (if it will get to that point :wink: ) this part of the post can be deleted and the topic moved to the most relevant section.

While thinking where to put it I decided on the Lounge, as here it will be visible to all people who visit the forums regularly enough to care.
And it was sad to see it empty all the time :wink:

Without further ado:

Before you ask…

Community forum is not a helpdesk

Let’s put this in the front - vast majority of people here do not work for UiPath. We’re volunteering our free time to help others and as much as it pains to say it, not all topics might get a satisfying answer.
If you’re an enterprise customer and need an answer from UiPath support, send them a ticket through the form or via their helpdesk portal.

Did you search?

Check the Search functionality. There’s a high chance that someone already asked a similar question and the answer is just waiting for you.
It might not work exactly as you need, but most of the common scenarios have already been covered. Yes, you may need to alter the sample workflow a little bit, but that’s just part of the work.

Also keep in mind that when you’re writing a new topic, on the right side (where the Preview panel is) you will see topic suggestions. These are matched by your topic, tags and post content. Check them out before you post.

If you do find a solution to your problem, consider dropping that post a like - it will help also with further searches for other users as well as notify the person that wrote that it helped someone.

So how do I search correctly?

Try to search only for what is the essence of a question - error message (without your use case specific data), activity name, operation you want to perform, data type you’re struggling with.
Some examples of searches for common scenarios:

  • datatable filter rows
  • excel datatable copy column
  • selector with variable
  • dynamic selector

I found a similar topic but it’s already solved and I still have a problem. Should I post in it?

That is sometimes tough to decide. As a rule of thumb - no.
What you could do, is to post your question in a new topic and put a link to the topic you found (see also Show effort below).

Writing a good question

Choose a category

Most categories are self explanatory, so you shouldn’t have much trouble in choosing one.
Just remember that Issues is for things that should work but don’t and How To are for when you don’t know how to accomplish something.

If you haven’t completed the Academy Foundation Training, post in RPA Dev/Rookies.

Title

Having a good topic title is essential. It should summarize your issue or question so that without even opening the topic people can have a good, general idea of what is inside.

A good topic generally:

  • Includes unique part of the error you’re getting
  • Contains activity name or action description
  • Describes the thing you’re having an issue with
  • Is emotionless

Some examples:

  • Good How to use The “click” with a button that load after some delay?
  • Bad Click not working
  • Ugly Problem/Need help
  • Good Excel not closing in background when automated with SAP
  • Bad Excel not closing
  • Ugly Excel problem

If you’re having a problem writing a good topic title, leave it for last - once you’ve written the whole question, it might be easier to write a summary title for it.

Tags

While we’re with the topic, let’s cover the tags as well as they complement each other.
Tags are added to a topic to help with search, as well as give additional context to people reading your question.

Common tags include excel, terminal, outlook, chrome, orchestrator, citrix etc.

There’s a thing to note about some tags - do not use tags that start with a single letter and an underscore, like i_ and p_. These are used solely by UiPath team members to mark topics for investigations, problem solving and product development.

The Question

Describe your goal

It is vital to give as much detail as needed for people to understand what you’re struggling with and also what are you trying to accomplish. The latter part is crucial to avoid asking a XY Problem.

Show effort

As stated at the beginning, this is a community forum. If you don’t show any effort from your side, be prepared that your question might be ignored.
This includes:

  • Posting links to similar topics that you’ve found through search - it shows that you already tried to find a solution and also what have you tried before asking, so you won’t get answers/links to things that already didn’t work for your situation.
  • Describing what you tried - topics that state the problem and straight up ask for a solution are often ignored (“I need to filter a datatable like this. Please give me a solution.”), because why anyone should give their free time to someone who couldn’t spend a couple minutes showing that they care?

Describe your environment

What version of UiStudio are you using? What package version (if relevant)? Are you running directly from Studio or Unattended? If Unattended, is it started from schedule or Orchestrator?
The more you describe about how it’s running, the easier it will be to reproduce or drill down what might be causing a problem.

Describe your constraints

If you know that you can’t use particular solutions, f.e. client doesn’t agree to installing Excel or you can’t use a different browser, write it in the post - it will save time for everyone.

Use proper formatting

Especially for code samples. This site should give you a quick rundown of how to format your text.
Remember to split text into paragraphs and include white-space.

Attach an example

Also known as providing an MCVE or a repro.
This might not always be possible, but most issues (especially HowTo’s) can be reproduced in isolation.
As a bonus, if you do create a repro and the issue doesn’t pop up with it, you now have a working scenario to compare with your workflow that doesn’t work.

For new users that can’t yet attach .xaml files, at least paste a screenshot or put your code in an external site (f.e. on pastebin . But the thing is, if you’ve searched before posting you probably already unlocked the Basic level and thus shouldn’t hit this limitation at all.

Reread it

Yes, the whole thing - check if topic is descriptive, tags are appropriate and that the question makes sense and actually asks what you want it to ask.
Having good grammar and spelling helps, but since not everyone is a native English speaker (most of us aren’t), at least check if there are some glaring errors. Punctuation and white-space also helps a lot.

Should I mention people in the post?

Generally - no.
It’s seen as bad manners and is essentially demanding an answer from someone. At least in the initial post. In a bump, maybe, but that also depends on the person on the other end.
At the very least if you do mention someone in the post using @someusername, be polite. Remember, we’re all volunteers here.

Done. Now what?

Now you wait :slight_smile:
Since there are users from all over the world, answers and questions come basically 24/7, but the actual time when you’ll get one is undetermined.

Noone is responding :frowning:

If the topic has been open for a longer period and noone responded, reread your post and title. Maybe you could improve it (remember that you can always edit your posts).
If you think it’s all good, consider giving it a bump - that is post a reply there to make it visible. Sometimes there’s a lot of traffic on the forums and people that know an answer to your question might’ve just missed it.
Do note that if you overuse it, it might give the opposite effect of showing you as an entitled person and thus drive people away.

I found a solution myself

Awesome!
If you think it will be valuable, post it in your topic and mark it as solved. It might help someone else that will find your post later.
If you don’t feel like sharing, at the very least leave the topic open. Deleting your posts can be seen as bad manners and that you only care about yourself to a point where you don’t even want your question to be in the community forums. At least it can serve as a starting point for a different user to point to it and say “Hey, I have the exact same question and that one doesn’t have a reply - I’ll bump it and ask there.”

I got a reply, but it didn’t solve my problem

This is what can happen a lot. See what the poster mentioned and if it brings you closer to a solution, mention it in your reply. It will make them feel that replying to you was worth their time investment and they will most probably stick with you to solve the issue completely or even involve other people they know to help.

I got a reply and the issue is solved

Great!
A few things to note on closing the topic:

  • If someone posted a solution to your question, mark it as such (there’s a checkbox in the bottom of that post for that).
  • If someone’s posts help arrive at the solution, consider dropping them a like. As with everything, don’t spam it, but a little appreciation goes a long way.

Does this even work…?

Try for yourself and find out :slight_smile:
Remember - there is no guarantee that you’ll get an answer, as noone is required to give you one.
All you can do is provide a good, thought through, interesting question. Usually that’s more than enough to get people to help you.
In time you should find it easier to write good questions and hopefully also answer some from other users.
That’s what we’re all here for.


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About the RPA Dev category
#2

Great one, Andrzej!

First of all, thank you for your time and effort in writing this best practices on forum post.

This could be a good addition to the Guidelines, which are received by users in the “Greetings” message when they first join the forum.
Maybe we could merge your post with Guidelines somehow and set a link to it on the banner in the home page. Or set as pinned post in the most used categories(Rookies/How to/Issues).

Thanks again, you rock! :guitar: :+1:


#3

#4

imagePlan your questions, Know your purpose, Open conversation, Speak your listener’s language, Use neutral wording, Follow general questions with specific ones.


#5

#6

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Can not figure out the problem with Execute query for SQL