• Asking great questions

    What makes a great question
    The secret to getting great answers is to ask great questions.

    When you have written your question the best quality check is to imagine you are trying to answer the question. If you were coming to it fresh, with no information other than what you have written would you be able to answer it? Does it make sense? Is it clear what you are actually asking? Are there obvious details about context that a reader would need? Is it clearly written? Is it grammatical and error free?

    If in doubt get a colleague to read it.

    If a question is not completely clear to you as the writer of it, it certainly won’t be to someone who is reading it for the first time. So once you have read it through, improve it to the point where you would be excited to answer it yourself!

    The more experience you have of answering questions the easier it is to write good ones.

    In terms of structure

    The question title
    The title is the first thing that people see, normally as they are scrolling down through a list of snippets. As such it needs to grab attention and needs to signal to readers enough context that they can see if they are interested enough to click through.

    Ideally a title should be a question and reference both the context, the problem.

    Don’t shout in titles. Making it all capitals or adding exclamation marks makes your question look tacky.

    Context
    Anyone answering the question will need to know the context of your situation. This will normally include
    • Your industry or niche. i.e. Food processing or design engineering for automotive
    • The scale of the operation. i.e. Producing 1 per day or 1 per minute, 5000 people or 5 people
    • Product or system details. i.e. Operating system, software version number, machine model etc.
    • Any constraints. i.e. solution can not cost more than £5000 or must fit through a 2m by 2.5m door
    • What is the bigger challenge you are aiming to achieve i.e. we are installing a new line to do X


    Photos and videos can help to bring the context to life and to add useful detail.

    Describe what you have tried before and what results you have had. If you have done previous research tell people about it. You don’t want to get answers you have already tried.

    Tag the question correctly. Tags are critical to both help other find your question and to signal to people what the question is about.


    Problem statement and request
    Make sure there is a clear problem statement and request. What is it that you want help with? It helps people to understand the problem if you explain the help you are looking for before they read the detail.

    Too often there is no question and it is just a statement with a question mark at the end. Then it is not clear what help you are looking for.

    Just describing the problem, “My current Apprenticeship programme is not working” is not a question. To make it into a useful request make it specific “What have other people in my sector done to make their L3 apprenticeships in X effective?”.

    You will then get very different answers if you ask for recommendation for a supplier, how to get the best out of a specific supplier, how to set Apprentice expectations better in the first month versus asking for general advice.

    The key rule is the problem statement should include a request for something specific.

    The problem description
    Share the details of the problem. Start of by describing what it is. Describe the problem in as much detail as needed for someone else to understand it. Further details to consider are

    • When it happens, i.e. every 5th cycle, every 5 minutes, when 5 people get involved
    • Who is involved. i.e. leadership team, warehouse team, design engineers
    • What you observe. i.e. smoke comes out, customers leave, staff look confused
    • What is different from expectations i.e. we were expecting a throughput of 30 items per minute and are achieving 5, we were expecting the training company to deliver x but we got y
    • If you can do demonstrate the problem with a photo or video
    • Be as short as possible whilst being complete


    This might seem like quite a long list and quite onerous but there is no doubt, the better your question, the better and quicker the answer.

    Some questions will need less detail if they are more generalised but most benefit from detail.

    Don’t be worried about the length, people will read long content if it is interesting.

    Spelling, punctuation and grammar

    Making a post accurate and well written helps.


    • Break text into short paragraphs. People are put off by big blocks of text and as many people read on smartphones short paragraphs help
    • Use capital letters sparingly and not to make a point
    • Avoid jargon and abbreviations. Though most will get them, some will not
    • Check for spelling. Especially important on smartphones where auto correct can lead to some strange sentences


    You are not trying to write War & Peace. You are trying to get your question across as clearly and effectively as possible. It is only polite to the people you are asking for help that you have put the effort in to check for accuracy.

    Making a good impression
    Apart from writing a great question with clear context, request and problem description, the other way to get good answers is to be seen as a good community member.

    Things that really help are
    • Have a real name, company and job title
    • Keep aware of what is happening with your question. Where people have asked for more information, provide it quickly. If people have answered but it is not what you are looking for, go back and explain, politely, what would make their answers more helpful
    • If you see that there are lots of answers which are not quite right, go back and edit your question to make it better
    • If you get an answer or multiple answers that are really good and solve the problems, mark the answers as verified answers
    • If someone has gone beyond expectations make sure to thank them in public and private


    We are aiming to create an amazing resource for manufacturing and manufacturers here. The intent is to build a network where you can get a good answer to a wide range of questions within minutes… what a phenomenal resource that can be for manufacturers. We know there is a clear correlation between the quality of questions, there likelihood that someone will answer and the quality of those answers. The more quality answers that the network provides, the more people will want to get involved and the value will keep going up for all. Putting the effort in to making your question as good and as answerable as possible, becomes one of the biggest drivers of success.
  • What makes a great question
    The secret to getting great answers is to ask great questions.

    When you have written your question the best quality check is to imagine you are trying to answer the question. If you were coming to it fresh, with no information other than what you have written would you be able to answer it? Does it make sense? Is it clear what you are actually asking? Are there obvious details about context that a reader would need? Is it clearly written? Is it grammatical and error free?

    If in doubt get a colleague to read it.

    If a question is not completely clear to you as the writer of it, it certainly won’t be to someone who is reading it for the first time. So once you have read it through, improve it to the point where you would be excited to answer it yourself!

    The more experience you have of answering questions the easier it is to write good ones.

    In terms of structure

    The question title
    The title is the first thing that people see, normally as they are scrolling down through a list of snippets. As such it needs to grab attention and needs to signal to readers enough context that they can see if they are interested enough to click through.

    Ideally a title should be a question and reference both the context, the problem.

    Don’t shout in titles. Making it all capitals or adding exclamation marks makes your question look tacky.

    Context
    Anyone answering the question will need to know the context of your situation. This will normally include
    • Your industry or niche. i.e. Food processing or design engineering for automotive
    • The scale of the operation. i.e. Producing 1 per day or 1 per minute, 5000 people or 5 people
    • Product or system details. i.e. Operating system, software version number, machine model etc.
    • Any constraints. i.e. solution can not cost more than £5000 or must fit through a 2m by 2.5m door
    • What is the bigger challenge you are aiming to achieve i.e. we are installing a new line to do X


    Photos and videos can help to bring the context to life and to add useful detail.

    Describe what you have tried before and what results you have had. If you have done previous research tell people about it. You don’t want to get answers you have already tried.

    Tag the question correctly. Tags are critical to both help other find your question and to signal to people what the question is about.


    Problem statement and request
    Make sure there is a clear problem statement and request. What is it that you want help with? It helps people to understand the problem if you explain the help you are looking for before they read the detail.

    Too often there is no question and it is just a statement with a question mark at the end. Then it is not clear what help you are looking for.

    Just describing the problem, “My current Apprenticeship programme is not working” is not a question. To make it into a useful request make it specific “What have other people in my sector done to make their L3 apprenticeships in X effective?”.

    You will then get very different answers if you ask for recommendation for a supplier, how to get the best out of a specific supplier, how to set Apprentice expectations better in the first month versus asking for general advice.

    The key rule is the problem statement should include a request for something specific.

    The problem description
    Share the details of the problem. Start of by describing what it is. Describe the problem in as much detail as needed for someone else to understand it. Further details to consider are

    • When it happens, i.e. every 5th cycle, every 5 minutes, when 5 people get involved
    • Who is involved. i.e. leadership team, warehouse team, design engineers
    • What you observe. i.e. smoke comes out, customers leave, staff look confused
    • What is different from expectations i.e. we were expecting a throughput of 30 items per minute and are achieving 5, we were expecting the training company to deliver x but we got y
    • If you can do demonstrate the problem with a photo or video
    • Be as short as possible whilst being complete


    This might seem like quite a long list and quite onerous but there is no doubt, the better your question, the better and quicker the answer.

    Some questions will need less detail if they are more generalised but most benefit from detail.

    Don’t be worried about the length, people will read long content if it is interesting.

    Spelling, punctuation and grammar

    Making a post accurate and well written helps.


    • Break text into short paragraphs. People are put off by big blocks of text and as many people read on smartphones short paragraphs help
    • Use capital letters sparingly and not to make a point
    • Avoid jargon and abbreviations. Though most will get them, some will not
    • Check for spelling. Especially important on smartphones where auto correct can lead to some strange sentences


    You are not trying to write War & Peace. You are trying to get your question across as clearly and effectively as possible. It is only polite to the people you are asking for help that you have put the effort in to check for accuracy.

    Making a good impression
    Apart from writing a great question with clear context, request and problem description, the other way to get good answers is to be seen as a good community member.

    Things that really help are
    • Have a real name, company and job title
    • Keep aware of what is happening with your question. Where people have asked for more information, provide it quickly. If people have answered but it is not what you are looking for, go back and explain, politely, what would make their answers more helpful
    • If you see that there are lots of answers which are not quite right, go back and edit your question to make it better
    • If you get an answer or multiple answers that are really good and solve the problems, mark the answers as verified answers
    • If someone has gone beyond expectations make sure to thank them in public and private


    We are aiming to create an amazing resource for manufacturing and manufacturers here. The intent is to build a network where you can get a good answer to a wide range of questions within minutes… what a phenomenal resource that can be for manufacturers. We know there is a clear correlation between the quality of questions, there likelihood that someone will answer and the quality of those answers. The more quality answers that the network provides, the more people will want to get involved and the value will keep going up for all. Putting the effort in to making your question as good and as answerable as possible, becomes one of the biggest drivers of success.
  • Great piece !

    Asking intelligent questions that get straight to the center of an issue is a great skill to have. I have been privileged to be around some people that have this down to an art with a single shot.

    Direct, straight to the heart of an issue with limited exposure to the problem at hand. You are left wondering why you had not thought of it ! Great learning experiences and emphasizes why you should surround yourself with great people.
  • Great piece !

    Asking intelligent questions that get straight to the center of an issue is a great skill to have. I have been privileged to be around some people that have this down to an art with a single shot.

    Direct, straight to the heart of an issue with limited exposure to the problem at hand. You are left wondering why you had not thought of it ! Great learning experiences and emphasizes why you should surround yourself with great people.