How to Ask Questions on Stack Overflow

and not die trying

Presented by Oded Coster

.NET South West meetup - May 21st 2015

Who am I?

  • Early user of Stack Overflow (August 2008)
  • Developer on the Stack Exchange Q&A team


  • Why should we ask good questions?
  • How do we ask such questions?
  • Stack Overflow specific advice

Why ask good questions?

Someone might have the answer

Why ask good questions?

It can clarify the problem to yourself

AKA Rubber duck debugging

image from

Why ask good questions?

  • You will get an answer faster

    One that actually solves your need

  • Answers will be better and more relevant
  • Make good example to others

So... how do I do it?

Research your problem

  • Official documentation
  • Tests and experiments
  • Google
  • Stack Overflow search

Take your time

  • Read and re-read your question
  • Short, descriptive title
  • Pertinent tags
  • Ensure the whole makes sense
  • Once posted, stay around and respond to comments

Make the question easy to answer

  • Show your research, explain what you tried
  • Ask about the problem, not your attempted solution
  • Include code that shows the problem
  • Limited scope - should be answerable in a few paragraphs
  • Very broad questions are bad

Keep those who answer in mind

  • Volunteers that are giving their time and expertise
  • Strangers on the Internet
  • From around the world
  • Mostly at their place of work

Details that matter

  • Don't forget to actually ask a question

    - and just one question

  • Check your grammar and spelling
  • Be polite, but no salutations
  • Don't include unnecessary details
  • Formatting - learn Markdown

A few examples

Bad Question

Bad Question

Good Question


  • Asking good questions matters
  • Take your time to ask
  • Make it easy to answer
  • Be mindful who you are asking help from



Slides are shared at