This is usually just for members. If you want to read my weekly research notes become a member.

When you’re trying to gain knowledge, you’re going to hit the edges of what you currently know and you’re going to need to ask questions. Many people jump directly to asking a question when they hit any barrier though, which shows that you’re looking for the path of least resistance and possible just trying to get out of doing the hard work of digging to find an answer. So, before you ask a question:

Search forums, mailing lists, blogs for the answer

I’m not talking about a one try search and then you bail on looking for the answer because it wasn’t in the first few results. Dig for different search terms. Try to search [1] is going but it’s still a great spot for a wealth of information.” class=”js–wpm-format-cite”>Reddit[1]. Find some forums that discuss the topic you’re looking into and dig further.

Spend time looking through your notes for possibly related material that could lead you to the answer

The more I take notes the larger the breadth of information is contained within my Obsidian database. Spending time searching through it for key terms, and what previous material talks about those key terms, often increases my understanding and then gives me further avenues of research to head back to the web with.


I know I said “search” in the first one, but do the same work you did with your notes on Wikipedia. Then dig through the cited sources and see what relates to your question. Dig into those cited sources for an answer to your question.

Ask Your Question

If you’ve done all of the above, you can ask your question now, but you better ask a good question.

Cite those sources that were close, but didn’t quite answer your question. Write down where the current edges of your knowledge are so that you demonstrate you’ve put in some work and you’re not just asking a question because it’s easier than doing the work.

Respecting the time of others

Ultimately the goal is to learn, and to respect the time of others. After over a decade of programming, I get random questions emailed to me about how to code WordPress projects from people I don’t know. It’s often basic stuff that’s documented in the WordPress Codex. If I spent time answering these questions I’d have no time to do anything but coach lazy people through answers.

Every time I write about basic income, I get a bunch of people telling my why UBI is bad in a way that shows they never read the published works on UBI. They cite arguments that have been repeatedly shown as false in book after book and study after study.

You want to show that you’ve done as much work as you’re currently capable of and that you tried to learn.

Most times when I dig deep into the process of trying to find an answer, I do find it. The times I don’t, the final question I ask is far better than the initial one I would have asked without the work up front.

Read this for a deeper discussion on how to ask a code related question.

  • [1] Ugh yes I know how Reddit is going but it’s still a great spot for a wealth of information.