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EvilJackCarver

[GUIDE] Getting useful Solutions to your Problems

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Notes for modstaff in spoiler.

Spoiler

You have my full permission to duplicate or alter this post as necessary to keep it up to date or to elaborate on parts I didn't do too well on. Also, please feel free to move this if it would be more suitable somewhere else. Thanks.

Preface

This text was adapted from a document by Eric S. Raymond, titled How to Ask Questions the Smart Way. The full document is available here - the authors of this document are in no way affiliated with G17 Media nor myself, and aren't there to answer your questions about how to get whatever it is you're trying to get working, working.


Introduction

If you're reading this, hi there. I suck at smalltalk and making things sound nice, so I'll open with this: In the world of diagnostics, there are a few right ways to get Solutions... and many, many wrong ways. This post is here to hopefully help nudge you toward the right ways, so that you can get the Solutions you want easier.

Of course, getting a good Solution isn't just on the people helping you solve your Problems - and you're naïve if you think that. A lot of the work needed to solve a Problem falls on you. A vast majority of the time, whether the issue gets solved depends not on the Problem itself, rather what the end user did to troubleshoot and what information they posted in their support threads.

Depending on how you present your issue and what it may or may not contain, your Problem's thread may get zero replies, or a hundred; it may be solved in an hour, a week, or it may remain an unsolved mystery. This post is here to reduce the odds of that last bit.

Still with me? Let's begin.


Before you post:

Reproduce the issue.

Try to reproduce the Problem. If your game is crashing, try to duplicate the crash. If you can narrow the crash down to a certain cause, you're much better off with getting a Solution to your Problem, because if you can reliably reproduce the issue and tell us HOW you reproduce it, we're much more likely to be able to see the Problem ourselves.

Also bear in mind your Problem may just be a fluke. Maybe the stars aligned just wrong. Maybe it just ain't your lucky day. A good rule of thumb is three times - if the Problem appears three times, it isn't "just a fluke".

Research the issue.

Before you present your Problem, do a bit of research. Give the manual or readme of whatever's having issues a read - the manual/readme is certainly there for a reason. They may not have a troubleshooting section, but the Problem could be a simple issue with installation, especially if the Problem cropped up right after you installed a mod or reconfigured one.

If nothing turns up in the manual, it's time to move onto the web. Search the forums for your issue, and look through the results. If you have an error code, search it. There's also a simple method that I use when searching that I refer to as "object-deviation" - as in, "object that's the issue, and deviation from how it normally works". (Side note: This is also a very good way to write your thread's title, as stated in the document linked above.)

Good example: "GTA5 white police lights".

If the Problem is an issue with a plugin, it's a good idea to look through your log files - sometimes, the error will be right there in plain sight, especially if it's a configuration issue.

Note that verbosity isn't necessarily a good thing - a lot of forums will search EVERY word in the search bar, without omitting words like "the" or "are". If it's an issue with a mod, be sure to look through the file comments as well; someone may have had your Problem already and it may be solved already for you.

If you get nothing on the forums, move on to Google, in quite the same fashion that you searched the forums.

Sleep on it.

No, I'm serious. Step away from the Problem for the day/night, regardless of how much you want it fixed here and now. Give it until tomorrow, after you wake up and have a level head, and are all refreshed. It's no use trying to diagnose your Problem while tired; you could easily miss important clues.


When you post:

Post in the correct forum. You'd be surprised at how many get moved or locked because they're in the wrong forum.

Use a descriptive title.

Some people will read every thread in the support fora, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, most people won't open a thread in a support forum unless the title catches their eye. Most people that look through the support fora will skim the thread titles. Using a descriptive title ensures that your Problem will be seen by someone before they even open the thread. As above, a good convention to use is "object-deviation" - "object of the issue-deviation from normalcy".

VERY BAD: "GTA doesn't work" - Saying something "doesn't work" is the absolute kiss of death and will very likely cause the thread to be ignored. Saying it "doesn't work" is like a used-car salesman saying a car has wheels - it tells us nothing we don't already know, for if it did work as intended you wouldn't be asking for support. "GTA doesn't work" is not a question, and we're not interested in playing Twenty Questions to pry your actual Problem out of you.

BAD: "GTA crashes" - It's the bare minimum you can get away with, but you can be more descriptive than that.

GOOD: "GTA crashes when I drive near the prison" - You have a pretty decent, descriptive title here, saying exactly what's going on - GTA is crashing when you drive near the prison. It doesn't leave what the Problem is for guessing - it's all right there.

Don't butcher the English language.

No matter how much of an emergency getting your Problem fixed may seem, THERE IS NO NEED TO USE ALL-CAPITALS IN YOUR TEXT; MOST PEOPLE READ THIS AS SHOUTING. LIKE YOU PROBABLY JUST DID. The only notable exception to not using all-caps is to emphasize A SPECIFIC POINT, in moderation. (writing in all-lowercase is more tolerable, but on some typefaces is very hard to read.) Don't abbreviate unnecessarily, typng n smsspk lik this 2 sv k/s makes u look lik a semi-lit boob.

If you write like you're a semi-literate boob, you're less likely to receive a Solution and more likely to be a zero-reply thread.

Describe your problem and your troubleshooting steps.

At the head of the post, you should re-describe the Problem in further detail and explain what you've tried. If there were any effects on the Problem at all - positive or negative, especially negative - list the effects as well. In doing so, less time is wasted on what you've already done and more can be spent on that which you haven't done.

Attach relevant logs and configs. If it's an issue with a plugin or an ASI mod, attaching the logs could pin down your Problem to an issue. If it's a configuration issue, attaching your config file could help us point out where you went wrong.

Leave questions open-ended.

If you have a question about something, leave it open-ended. Yes-or-no questions get yes-or-no answers; leaving a question open-ended allows room for us to suggest a better way to do whatever it is you're trying to do.

BAD: "How do I get a RGB car paint colour through a trainer?"
GOOD: "I'm looking to get an RGB car paint colour from in the game. I'm trying to do it with a trainer but I don't see a way to do it - any suggestions?"

Note how the way the second example is worded subtly encourages you to suggest something better-suited to the task than the trainer.

Describe the Symptoms, not wild guesses.

It's not useful to tell us your wild guesses as to what you think might be happening sans context - if your diagnostic theories were correct, you wouldn't have a Problem to post in the first place. Write down what your Problem's symptoms are and let us see what we can do. That's not to say educated guesses aren't alright - in fact, they're more than OK if you can tell us how you came to that conclusion; but if you can't give us a logical, rational explanation on how you came up with your guess, you're better off not posting it.

Quote

 

Since the preceding point seems to be a tough one for many people to grasp, here's a phrase to remind you: "All diagnosticians are from Missouri." That US state's official motto is "Show me" (earned in 1899, when Congressman Willard D. Vandiver said "I come from a country that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri. You've got to show me.") In diagnosticians' case, it's not a matter of skepticism, but rather a literal, functional need to see whatever is as close as possible to the same raw evidence that you see, rather than your surmises and summaries. Show us.

Keep public support requests to public channels.

Problem solving should be public - if someone else comes upon your Problem later, they can look at your thread and see any Solutions that you may be given. There may be reasons for taking something to PM, but unless you're specifically asked to, you should leave it public - taking it to private channels without permission is generally seen as rude.


Now that you've posted:

Keep looking for possible Solutions.

If you find a Solution to your Problem before someone else does, edit your post and tack on the solution, and make the title clear that it's solved. If you say "nevermind, got it" you look like a dick for not posting what you did to fix it, to any future Solution-seeker that may happen to stumble across your thread.

wisdom_of_the_ancients.png
(Above image copyright 2011 Randall Munroe. Link to source)

Don't mistake bluntness for rudeness.

A lot of communications for a lot of people revolve around tact and courtesy - not here. As you can tell by the way this is written, people here to help you solve problems are very seldom here to make you feel warm and fuzzy in doing so. We're not here to offend you, we're just cutting through the unnecessary fluff.

If you feel someone's being rude, keep cool. If they really are being rude, someone will call them out on it. If they don't and you lose your temper, it's quite possible that whoever you just lost it on was behaving within the community's norms. Most flames are best left to burn themselves out - after, of course, you've checked that they're really flames, and not hidden Solutions to your Problem.

Don't immediately demand clarification for Solutions you don't understand.

Yes, you read that right. If you don't understand, you should use the tools you used to try to find your Solution before you posted it (Google, forum search, manuals, logs, etc.) to try to understand the Solution you've been given. If you're still stumped, THEN ask for clarification.

BAD: "What do you mean 'set SECL to DROT'?"
GOOD: "I read the manual, but I didn't see anything about DROT under 'SECL'. I did find DROT under 'PRML', and 'ROTA' under 'SECL', though; is it one of these or am I missing something?"

Don't bump your thread.

No matter how long it's been, have a bit of patience: no response isn't the same as being ignored, though it may be difficult to tell the difference. Bumping your thread may be seen as a sign of impatience to those that may be trying to help. Also, bear in mind the size of the Earth - even if it's high noon where you live, someone with a potential Solution may be fast asleep at 2 in the morning where they live.


In Conclusion

A lot of our ability to give Solutions depends on your ability to provide information. Threads with a lot of useful information are easier to provide Solutions for, whereas Problems with absolutely no information listed are nigh impossible without us having to force the information out of you. By using the above guide, you greatly increase the odds of getting a useful Solution to your Problem, and you may even learn a thing or two in the process.

Edited by EvilJackCarver
Add horizontal rules to better demarcate the sections

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Very nice job, you've put a lot of effort into this, however if users can't read the basic information and guidelines that are already asked of them before posting in the various support sections, they certainly aren't going to read this.

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This should be mandatory reading material before a new internet user is allowed to create any kind of user account. Great job but I fear the much needed and desired effect won't be met without a 3 worded TL;DR :tongue:

AlconH and Play3r2 like this

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Excellent job on the guide, I don't see any harm in pinning this. 

mKVNnyI.png

If you feel that this topic has been pinned in error, please report this post.

 

Edited by Original Light

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Hi guy , 

 

Im having a issue with my E key when i pull some one over . it gives me the message in the top right corner but when i go to press it nothing happens ? the E key works for every thing else . Can some one help please 

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5 hours ago, lyons1988 said:

Hi guy , 

 

Im having a issue with my E key when i pull some one over . it gives me the message in the top right corner but when i go to press it nothing happens ? the E key works for every thing else . Can some one help please 

 

Please create your own topic in the correct forum section. 

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GTA 5 ELS crashing game:

 

After i updated my game to v1103 along with RagePluginHook and every mod that i have installed, i am now experiencing a problem with ELS

When i get to stage 3 lighting my game crashes

When in stage 1 and 2 lighting there are no lights the lightbars are blank the ELS on-screen control shows me being in stage 1 or 2 and the pattern number, but there is no lights on the bar

takedown lighting, and cruise lighting works

i have tried numerous different vehicle packs with different VCFs and still the same problem

Scripthook V and ELS is up to date

 

I do not know what is wrong and i would really like some help

Thank you

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17 hours ago, mackey1513 said:

GTA 5 ELS crashing game:

 

After i updated my game to v1103 along with RagePluginHook and every mod that i have installed, i am now experiencing a problem with ELS

When i get to stage 3 lighting my game crashes

When in stage 1 and 2 lighting there are no lights the lightbars are blank the ELS on-screen control shows me being in stage 1 or 2 and the pattern number, but there is no lights on the bar

takedown lighting, and cruise lighting works

i have tried numerous different vehicle packs with different VCFs and still the same problem

Scripthook V and ELS is up to date

 

I do not know what is wrong and i would really like some help

Thank you


Please create your own support topic in this forum. 
Topic Locked

Kallus Rourke likes this

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