“Probe their mental model” conjures bad memories of StackOverflow for me. The Rust community may not have this problem but I quit SO years ago because people will respond to clear technical questions with “do you actually need to do this?” or “yes, but what is the real problem you are trying to solve?” and it’s just not worth the trouble. I’d like to encourage “You’re Doing It Wrong” types to answer the question being asked first and foremost, even if that answer is “that’s not possible”. Sometimes I don’t have a problem I’m trying to solve, and am trying to explore the limits of my tools. Sometimes a “best practices” solution doesn’t apply and the amount of context necessary to establish this is overwhelming and I’d rather not waste everyone’s time typing it up. In every case, I’d like to know the answer to my original question, I’ll decide for myself whether or not I was doing it wrong.
The “do you need to do this” is because they get a lot of XY problem folks. I don’t really address this in the post, but I think potential XY should be met with something like “Are you sure you need to do that? Is there an underlying problem here? Else, in short, the solution is Z (or there is no solution because the tool can’t do that), and I can expand on that if you’d like.”.
Anyway, yeah, I intended to mean that the probing comes after the actual solving – I kind of hint at that in my post, but don’t explicitly mention it I guess. Not sure how to work that in now.
I usually go “I don’t fully understand you problem, could you give me a little more context of why you are doing this?”, which doesn’t run the danger of sounding blaming as much.
I notice this many times doing a search.
I google a specific question and see Stack Overflow answer. The chosen answer often does not answer the question in title. At least many times the next answer has more points and is an answer to the question in title.
Also many theoretical questions are met with more of the same. I’m thinking about asking them maybe on operating systems subreddit.
Good writeup! I’d suggest also the practices and debugging tags.
Thanks! Most of the tags are technology tags, had a hard time finding the relevant meta-tags :)
Good read. Thank you Manish.