If you have any question, please read this guide first before you’re posting a question on the Community Q&A yourself. The kind of answer you’ll get from the community depends both on the difficulty of the problem and the way you ask your question. The point of asking a good question is really about increasing your chance to get an answer. Please do only describe one problem per post.
- Do your homework first
- Write a good title that summarizes your problem
- Describe your problem clearly with as much details as necessary
- Use proper grammar, spelling, and text formatting to avoid confusion
- Be reasonably polite
- Give feedback to the others’ responses
- Pay it forward either as novice or expert
- Further reading
Do your homework first
Before you’re posting a question, make sure you’ve done your own homework: reviewing the relevant manuals, trying out the examples, and searching the web as well as this forum. Always start with Google. If your problem is somehow related to MATLAB, there are much better resources out there to solve it.
If that doesn’t work, try to understand your problem by identifying the important keywords (e.g., from error messages) and use that to search the relevant user manuals and then this forum. Browse through the search result of this forum for other similar questions. Don’t repeat an already answered question.
Take note of what you have done and their outcomes. Be ready to mention them when you are finally posting your question. Mentioning them will not only give you a good impression among other community members (thus they are more inclined to help you out), it will also help others to see what has been done and what doesn’t work.
Write a good title
Writing a good title is an important way to summarize your problem. Some guidelines even recommend writing the title after you describe the whole problem. It helps attract members to help you with an answer. Later on, it also helps other members to browse the list to know whether the question has been asked or answered.
Be brief and precise. In one sentence, describe your problem with all the important elements. One way to help you formulate your title is to write it the way you would write a query in a search engine. Below are some examples of bad and better question titles.
|Help! Registration problem||License file not yet received days after registration and email confirmation|
|URGENT! How to define this correlation function||How to define a custom correlation function for Gaussian Process modeling?|
|Failed in the installation self-test||Not using UQLink but UQLink self-test failed: would there be a side effect?|
|Problem using external data to build PCE||Building PCE with external data and quadrature method - Large error magnitude (13)|
|Ordinary differential equations||How to create a model based on ordinary differential equations for sensitivity analysis?|
|Help me, please! An issue with PCE||Error in
You can write your title in declarative (License file not yet received days after registration and email confirmation), interrogative (How to create a model based on ordinary differential equations for sensitivity analysis?), or compound (Not using UQLink but UQLink self-test failed: would there be a side effect?).
Describe your problem
Start expanding your title by providing the relevant details in your problem description in the subsequent paragraphs.
Be clear and explicit
Describe your problem such that it answers the following questions:
- What are you trying to do?
- What did you do?
- What did you expect to get?
- What did you get instead?
- What have you tried to resolve your problem?
- What happened in your attempts?
This is to make sure that you are being explicit on what you’re trying to get out of the question. In other words, your question ideally should be close-ended.
Help others reproduce your problem
Formulate your problem description to help others reproduce your problem by including the relevant steps. If you think it helps people to understand your problem better or reproduce it, include screen captures, math derivation, code, or program output/responses.
If you are including code, don’t just copy your entire MATLAB script or error message. Try to include just enough code—a minimal working example— for others to reproduce your problem. Read a post from Stack Overflow to help you with this.
Provide background information
Anyone attempting to answer your question might need some background information. So when appropriate include the following in your question:
- UQLab version
- UQLab modules in question
- MATLAB version
- Operating system
If it is not already obvious, it’s often worthwhile to provide a bit of context—the bigger picture—for your problem. If you cannot do task X, what is it you are actually trying to achieve with that task. In some cases, there might be an alternative solution to your actual, bigger, problem.
Use proper grammar, spelling, and text formatting
While nobody is expected to write our questions as English prose, reasonably correct English grammar and spelling are important insofar as to avoid confusion. As many of us in the community are not native English speakers, it might be wise to describe your problem in simple English.
- Spell, punctuate, and capitalize correctly
- Split your sentences into proper multiple paragraphs (too long paragraphs are unwieldy to read)
- Proofread your question again for correctness
- TYPE IN ALL CAPS, which is read as shouting and widely considered rude
- Use too many jargons or specialized abbreviations
- Use internet slangs or SMS style sentence (many of which might be considered common knowledge, but try to avoid them altogether)
The post editor of UQWorld supports basic text formatting to make your question post more readable. Basic text formatting includes bold and italic characters, lists, formatted code block, internet links, as well as mathematics. Use them properly (look at the Basic Text Editing Guide for detail).
Be reasonably polite
We are helping each other out with our own time and out of interest. Please be appreciative to that by—aside from doing your own homework first and taking the time to write a good question—being reasonably polite. Asking for help instead of demanding it (especially with all in caps) definitely helps. Saying Thanks or Please when appropriate also won’t hurt.
Having said that, online Q&A norms usually do not require greetings (e.g., Dear all, Hi everybody, Dear community members, Dear friends) or sign-offs (e.g., Thanks a lot, looking forward to hearing your reply, best regards, sincerely). These are considered hollow phrases. Finally, no need to infuse an additional sense of urgency in your question (e.g., HELP!, URGENT!, Sincerely asking your help).
When another community member gives a response to your question—especially if they are trying to do something for you, please take the time to give your feedback regardless of whether it solves your problem or not. This will help the community to see which approach has been taken and which one doesn’t work. Furthermore, if you manage to solve your problem either by yourself or with other people’s help, please post an update or indicate the reply post.
Pay it forward
If you think that the people in the community have helped you, you can pay it forward. You can start by liking a reply post that you think is helpful. Ultimately, you can start answering some questions posted on the forum yourself. Even as novice, your take on a problem is invaluable for beginners. As you gain more knowledge and expertise in using UQLab or applying UQ methods, helping other members can be an enjoyable way of contributing back. Browse the questions posted on the forum once in a while and identify which you can answer. Posting helpful answers might require some practice, but you can start with How to Post an Answer to Community Q&A.
Asking a good question on technical or scientific forums is a topic for a discussion itself. This guide is compiled—and borrowed heavily—from various sources on the internet:
- Biostars - Tutorial: How To Ask Good Questions On Technical And Scientific Forums
- Stackoverflow - How do I ask a good question?
- PLOS - Ten Simple Rules for Getting Help from Online Scientific Communities
- How to Ask Questions the Smart Way by Eric Steven Raymond
- Writing the Perfect Question by Jon Skeet