5 ways to answer questions the open source way

Eric Raymond’s How to Ask Questions the Smart Way was published in 2001 and has been very popular ever since. It gets referenced on my local Linux User Group mailing list with some frequency (usually alongside an admonishment to stop top-posting). To be sure, it contains a lot of good advice for how to perform research, how to frame a question, and what salient information is generally a minimum required to solicit help. And yet, I think it could have been done better. Raymond spends roughly 10,000 words telling people what is expected of them when they seek help, including how not to react like a loser, but why not some words on how to answer questions in a helpful way? In an effort to remedy this glaring oversight, I share here some guidance I’ve learned over the last dozen years participating in open source communities, as both a novice and an expert.