10 Commandments for the OTN Forums Member

I spend a good chunk of time everyday answering questions on the JDeveloper discussion forum on OTN.
A lot of people find these forums to be a good source for answers to their questions and problems. And it shows - I think we are getting close to a hundred new thread on the JDev forum every day.

However I think there are some things that posters to the forums can do to make the whole experience of using the forums a lot better.

So here are my 10 commandments for the forum poster divided into 5 rules for correct posting and 5 for being a good member of the community.

Five rules to getting a better solution

1. Have a meaningful subject line

I'm tired of seeing a subject line like "I need urgent help". Your subject should specify what the problem core is and in what area

2. Give details about versions and technologies

Are you using JDeveloper 10.1.3.1 or JDeveloper 9.0.4? Are you using ADF BC or EJB?

3. Give detailed error messages

Don't say - it throws an error - tell us what the error is and give the stack trace.

4. If possible provide steps to reproduce the problem

If something doesn't work for you - I can't know why if you don't tell me what you did. Sometime you can even post code that reproduce the problem

5. Search before you post

It's for your own good - it brings you the solution faster.
Search both the forum and Google for your question - you'll be surprised how many times you'll find a solution that someone else got.

Five rules to become a better member of the community

6. Get a name

In your forums preferences you can set up a name or handle that will help us recognize you (and even a link to your blog).
Do you really want to be known as user5667847?
Using your real name is even better - then when someone meets you in a conference or an event - They'll already know who you are.

7. Post the solution

If your issue was solved post the solution on the thread so others that run into the same error can fix it faster. Just writing "I fixed it" doesn't count.

8. Mark solved problems with [Solved]

Once you found a solution to a problem edit the thread and add [SOLVED] to the subject line. This will help people identify solved problems.

9. Track your threads

In your forum preferences check the option that alerts/emails you when your thread has been updated. This way you'll be able to get better response time and also answer follow up questions.

10. Don't just ask question - give some answers as well

The forum is a community - the community will only grow if you'll be an active participant. Posting question is just one side of the coin - actually answering other people questions is even more important.
So go ahead and show off the knowledge you have gathered - it is the first step to take if you want to become an Oracle ACE.

Further reading on the topic:

Yout Forum preferences

Forums FAQ

JDev forum for first time users

Comments:

While all of these suggestions make absolute sense, I was wondering whether it was possible to add flags to threads (open - solved - bug submitted)?

Posted by Mike on March 02, 2007 at 09:19 PM PST #

Mike, The forums use an off the shelf software called Jive, and it doesn't have this feature right now. Later this year we are planning to upgrade the version of the software and this is suppose to add more features. I don't know if the feature you are describing is going to be there. But we can always hope :-)

Posted by Shay Shmeltzer on March 03, 2007 at 05:05 AM PST #

Unfortunately the thread tracking feature doesn't work. I haven't received any notifications for about a month.

Posted by Jim Smith on March 03, 2007 at 06:45 PM PST #

Good list. I like the idea to make a tread as solved but I just tried with 2 of mine and my subject line was so long that it did not fit :-(

Posted by Peter Lorenzen on March 03, 2007 at 08:24 PM PST #

Good points indeed. The one I agree the strongest with might be the last one. How sad is it to see users who have posted in the hundreds but never ever answer any questions. Also, on point 9. This Jive software doesn't allow you to change your email address ... I suppose that will also be fixed "Later this year .." ? :) Cheers, Borkur

Posted by Borkur Steingrimsson on March 03, 2007 at 09:53 PM PST #

A good list. As a regular (not to say habitual) contributor to the OTN forums I do think it would be useful if new joiners could be given a steer on forum etiquette before they are allowed to post. Of course, probably as many of them would read it as would read an EULA but it would be a start. Of course, it's not just the OPs who can be uncouth. Often the responders are bad mannered or unhelpful. This is why I wrote my guide on How To Be A Good Guru (available on my blog - your site seems to be configured not to reject comments with Blogspot URLs) Cheers, APC

Posted by APC on March 04, 2007 at 07:08 PM PST #

No doubt this blog has been the most helpful to me over the years and the flags for threads status would be very useful And in response to comment about people asking questions and never anwersing - Don't forget that this forum is not for the guru alone. You don't expect a newbie to know of what to post to help another. And difficult tracking the gurus who ask for help but don't contribute by answering to help.

Posted by cube60 on March 31, 2007 at 01:33 AM PDT #

"10 Commandments for the OTN Forums Member" - This ought to be the first page every forum user gets to read right after registering!!

Posted by Kavitha A on April 04, 2007 at 02:51 AM PDT #

Hi, Shay! I think you should give suggestion to "show" print screen! Link (for example) http://www.host.my_problem_image.gif should be copy of screen of the problem. There are a lot of free space (for ex.: www.geocities.com) to upload image or it could be their own host. In this case we can "see" the problem as well and not only talk about it. This could save a lot of time! Regards! m.

Posted by Marussig on April 06, 2007 at 12:36 AM PDT #

While not as specific to the OTN forums as your post I always liked this write up of How to Ask Questions http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

Posted by Carl Backstrom on April 03, 2008 at 02:57 PM PDT #

I understand this is a 5-year old post, however wanted to let you know that the "Forums FAQ" link (www.oracle.com/us/technology/forums/faq.html) in the further reading topics gives a 404 Page not Found error.

Posted by guest on August 06, 2012 at 01:53 AM PDT #

guest - thanks for the note - link to FAQ fixed to point to:
https://wikis.oracle.com/display/Forums/Forums+FAQ

Posted by Shay on August 06, 2012 at 01:32 PM PDT #

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