Getting help from an on-line forum is easy - if you ask the question in the right way and forum members both understand your question and have the expertise to provide a cogent response.

How should questions be posed so that they get answered, so an audience gets and stays engaged, and so that replies are provided in most if not all cases?

I realize that this is an etiquette or rules type question, but I have seen many poorly worded questions where I left to surmise or estimate the questioner's intentions.


1 Answer 1


I feel that the "Ten Simple Rules for Getting Help from Online Scientific Communities" article published recently in PLoS Computational Biology offers some very practical guidelines for soliciting timely help from this Biology community here.

The article can be accessed here.

The ten rules are:

  1. Do Not Be Afraid to Ask a Question
  2. State the Question Clearly
  3. New to a Mailing List? Learn the Established Customs before Posting
  4. Do Not Ask What Has Already Been Answered
  5. Always Use a Good Title
  6. Do Your Homework before Posting
  7. Proofread your Post
  8. Be Courteous to Other Forum Members
  9. Remember That the Archive of Your Discussion Can Be Useful to Other People
  10. Give Back to the Community
  • $\begingroup$ I like that you answered your own question. ;) It's a great article and very worthy of reading before seeking help from a community, rather than confusing them, or worse yet, trying to take advantage of those donating time, experience and expertise. $\endgroup$
    – user560
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ I think we should include this on the FAQ. At one point BioStar included this on their suggested reading. $\endgroup$
    – bobthejoe
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 6:29

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