We all love the Internet for the wealth of information it brings to our fingers. It’s been said that the vast majority of Information Technology folks couldn’t work without Google Search, myself included. The Internet allows us quickly search for fixes to documented problems and to connect with industry experts through discussion forums and social media who can often help answer our questions or further our understanding of a specific technical problem.
What’s the problem?
While quite a few people take the time and effort to adequately document and describe their problem, including the troubleshooting steps they’ve already taken, far too many folks don’t take the time to provide the basic details of the actual problem or the environment around the problem when posting a question or asking for assistance.
All too often I’ll see a post or a comment that says something along the lines of “I have a switch and an IP phone and it’s not working can you please help?“. So my answer is “sure, if you can provide enough detail around your configuration and environment!“
When you make a post remember that the folks that are going to respond have no clue how your network is designed or configured. They also have no idea what you’ve tried and what you haven’t tried in order to resolve the problem. And while there are quite a few of us out there happy to answer questions and offer support, we generally won’t waste our time trying to pull answers out of people that should have originally provided the basic information when first soliciting (free) help.
Describe the problem and/or symptoms with enough detail
Here’s what I suggest as a basis when making a post requesting assistance;
- Thorough description of the problem and all symptoms.
- When did the problem first start?
- Has it ever worked properly (help identify a potential configuration or operational issue).
- Was there a change made that preceded the problem?
- The switch models and software releases of each.
- Is the problem easily reproducible or intermittent?
- What have you done to date to try and resolve the problem?
While I realize I’m probably preaching to the choir with this post I’m trying fill my roll and help.
Update your original post and/or question with the solution
If you were able to resolve your problem and/or issue with someone’s help please don’t forget to update the thread with the outcome so that the next Joe or Jane will have the benefit of your experiences to get them through their problem or issue. And as always it would be nice of you to say ‘Thanks!‘ to those that took the time to respond to your post and/or question.