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Asking Questions - Wallace B. McClure

Wallace B. McClure

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Asking Questions

http://msmvps.com/williamryan/archive/2005/11/21/76127.aspx

A discussion came up with a few acquaintences of mine and I was wondering what you all thought.  If you see a MVP asking a question in a newsgroup, how do you feel about it?  Mainly, let's say that a ASP.NET MVP was asking about ASP.NET in the public newsgroups. Would you think less of him/her?  What about if the same guy was asking a Speech Server question, or a question about a technology outside of their awarded product group? If you see me asking a question about Biztalk in the public newsgroups, would you think less of my competency?

My thinking is that I will freely ask questions in any group. I'm here to learn and since I dabble in  a ton of techonologies, I'm going to be a n00b in a bunch of places.  I have no shame at all in that and if you look down on me b/c of it, that's your issue. Also, I have heard many people comment that some MVPS take themselves way to seriously and act like they are better than others.  AFAIK, that charge has never been levelled against me and I hope it never is.  I think that as a MVP, I'm the same as anyone else so I wouldn't think twice about asking questions publicly. Moreoever, if I see an ASP.NET MVP ask a compact framework question, I just think - ok, he doesn't know the Compact Framework yet.  Big deal.

Anyway, if you are a newsgroup participant, I'd really appreciate your feedback on this.  Do you think it makes MVPS look bad to ask questions in public newsgroups?  Do you think it makes them look bad to never be seen asking questions? Please, speak up ;-)

My buddy Bill Ryan brings up a really good point.  I could not agree more.  Personally, I found that when I worked on my first book, I was a little in awe of the whole experience.  I was a little nervous about asking questions.  I was afraid that someone would think I was an idiot.  Now, I am an MVP and an ASPInsider.  The second time around writing, I decided to go the other extreme and ask any question that I could learn something I didn't know or to get a different view on things.  Working on this Atlas book, I had it slammed in my face a couple of times.  I asked a couple of questions regarding "What do you think of AJAX/Atlas?" and "What would you like to read about in a book on AJAX with ASP.NET?" and so on.  I actually got some smartass responses along the lines of some people saying I was an idiot for doing market research and getting others to do my book for me.  Well, I am a big believer in market research and learning through asking questions. After all, we just don't have all the answers to everything pop into our head.   These people won't stop me from continuing to ask questions no matter how trivial.  As I have learned, the only stupid question is one not asked.  I'm with you Bill.

Comments

Dave Sussman said:

I'm 100% behind this too. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, even if it does seem like a a simple issue. I learnt this a long time ago when i read a book by Jim McCarthy (then head of the C++ unit) who said "Know your unknowns".
# November 29, 2005 6:10 PM

Karl said:

I'm not trying to be rude, but I think talking about it is pretentious. If there's even any doubt about this, if there's really a need to blog about it to get people's feedback, then you might be in the too serious crowd.

I know ,I'm coming down harshly ,sorry...nothing personal.
# November 29, 2005 7:31 PM

Wallym said:

My point is that I am agree with Bill and that I am not going to shy away from asking questions.
# November 29, 2005 9:10 PM

Ken Cox [MVP] said:

Hey Wally,

>Do you think it makes MVPS look bad to ask
>questions in public newsgroups

Not sure that it makes *anyone* look bad to admit they don't know everything. Didn't the Internet start as a way for university experts to share knowledge?

Besides, smart people don't lose a day banging away at a stupid little issue on their own. Instead, they do a Google search. If that doesn't help, they post the code in an MS newsgroup to get a few hundred pairs of eyes to point out the mistake - which could be a silly typo, a major logic flaw or even an obscure MS bug.

Then they get back to billable work rather than losing more time worrying whether they look bad. <grin>
# November 30, 2005 3:22 AM

Guy Murphy said:

The vast bulk of people are neither going to notice nor care you're an MVP.... The programmers of Mono, Spring, Reflector etc etc... not MVPs.

For many for whom .NET is part of a broader bag of tools, the notion of MVPs brings a wry smile... a more interesting question would be "Can advertising the fact one is an MVP on a public forum hurt ones credibility in the broader developer community?"
# November 30, 2005 5:11 AM

Bill said:

Karl - there's a little more than meets the eye with my post. I know, it's uncool to say that " I can't tell you why" but well there is - people will flip on my if I elaborated. Anyway, I was trying to make a point that it's totally cool for a MVP to ask questions - I thought people that think otherwise are a little off base. Sorry though if you thought it was pretentious.
# November 30, 2005 11:08 AM

AndrewSeven said:

Its been a long time since I stoped thinking that the MVPs were the most knowledgeable people on a given subject.

They are "Microsoft Most Valuable Professional", not the "Microsoft Most Knowledgeable Professional"

To me this means that they are good at helping people.
This might come directly from their personal knowledge, but just as often they are able to put someone on the right track or to put them in touch with someone who can answer directly.

Asking questions is definitely not bad especially when they are not in your domain of expertise.
# November 30, 2005 1:34 PM