Help Us Help You

Written By Michelle Steigerwalt, on Monday, June 18th 2007, 2:29pm

While we love to help everyone who comes to us for support, sometimes there’s a breakdown in communication.

To clear up some of these issues, I’ve written this article about how to get the friendliest response possible from the community.

We’re Not Mean

The MooTools community is one of the friendliest JavaScript communities you’ll ever find. We comb the forums all day, looking for people to help. Questions are answered promptly, and tons of documentation has been written to help people learn the framework.

I’m even trying to start an initiative where everyone uses :) a lot to show people that we’re friendly and helpful. :)

How to Ask Better Questions

There are a few things you can do to help us help you.

Read the Documentation First

We spend a lot of time writing documentation to help out all the people who find MooTools. Writing documentation is a complicated and thought intensive process, so it makes us sad when people ask questions without looking at the documentation first.

We might disguise our sadness with anger and bitter sarcasm, but we’re really crying on the inside. :)

The JavaScript Code Tag

There is a button on the forums to use when pasting JavaScript code which makes things a lot more readable. Please use it. The same goes for the HTML code button. :)

JavaScript Code Button

Links Are Best

I don’t know about you, but looking through every line of your HTML, CSS, and JS code to find out why your tooltips aren’t fading in properly isn’t my idea of a fun time. The best way to get quick help is to post a link, so that I don’t have to download mootools.js, make a local file on my machine, edit the file so it points to my local version of the moo.js, and then open up the file in Firefox. It’s just a lot of work and I’m a lazy person. And even after all that, I’ll still have to dig around until I find your offending code.

The best combination of information is a brief but detailed problem description, a small excerpt of code where you’re having your troubles, and a link to the development page.

Be Descriptive

It’s much easier for us to help you figure out your problem when you tell us what you’re expecting to happen and what actually happens. “I’m trying to use Fx.Slide to make my content div slide in and out, but when I trigger the effect, it gives me a ‘Method not found’ error,” is infinitely more helpful than, “I’m trying to do a slide effect, but it doesn’t work.”

Show Us Some Sample Code

Write a man some code, and he has fancy effects for a project. Teach a man to code, and he has fancy effects for the rest of his life.

The main purpose of the forum is to assist people in learning MooTools. As a rule of thumb, we try not to tell people how to do things directly, opting instead to assist people in finding their own answers.

We’ll give hints, we’ll tell you where a bug is, we’ll link you to the helpful bit of documentation you might not have known to search for, but you’ll have to meet us halfway.

We’d like to see evidence that you’ve already made an attempt to code something and that you’ve read the documentation. If you don’t provide us with sample code or a link, your thread might be closed, depending on your question. Code copied and pasted from the demos does not count as sample code. :)

We understand that sometimes, you’re not able to post code based on restrictions placed upon you by your client or employer. If this is the case, try to give us as detailed an account as possible.

We Won’t Code For You (Unless You Pay Us To)

A major issue for us is people who come to the forum who don’t want to learn MooTools, but just want to get some fancy effects up on their sites as easiest as possible. In this case, the easiest way possible is to get someone else to do it for them. We’re not going to code things for you. If that makes us elitists, so be it. :)

Many of the people who have had threads closed fall into this category.

JavaScript is a skill, and we won’t code custom sites for people just because they ask us to on the forums. We’re already giving you a framework that makes a lot of awesome things really easy, written up tons of documentation about every feature, and given it all to you for free. Please don’t expect us to do more than that. :)

If You Don’t Want To Learn MooTools…

If you don’t know JavaScript or MooTools, have no intention of learning, and you need fancy effects on your website, you can post in the Get Help section about hiring someone to do it for you. I’m sure there are plenty of starving Moo artisans who would be happy to give you a hand. :)

In Conclusion

:)

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