Introducing the Hardline According to Tim Hall…


I’ve made quite a big decision today. I’ve decided that I will no longer waste my time answering crap questions on my forum. I don’t mean I will not answer any questions. Just that I will not answer questions where the poster has put little to no effort into the question. The sort of things that drive me mad are:

  • No indentation in code.
  • Refusing to use the CODE tags around formatted text, thereby making it unreadable.
  • Refusing to provide CREATE TABLE and INSERT statements to set up a test case. I don’t care that I could knock up the test case in 5 minutes, I shouldn’t have to. You are asking for help. You are not paying me to help you. You should do everything in your power to minimize the time I have to spend on your problem.
  • Sending me whole scripts or packages when you already know the issue is focused around a single query. If you can’t be bothered to strip that query out and send it to me as part of the test case, I can’t be bothered to answer your question.
  • Ignoring my requests for specific information.
  • People who post things like “URGENT”. This implies your issue is more important than anyone elses, or indeed my time. That’s rather rude. If you need an SLA, you should pay someone for support. What you consider urgent and what I consider urgent may be two different things. I had a guy post a question on a Friday evening with “URGENT” plastered all over it. I felt charitable so I took the time out to help. A few minutes later I got a reply saying, “Thanks for the reply. I’ll check it out on Monday.” Are you kidding me? It’s so urgent it can wait until Monday?
  • People who post, “Give me a detailed answer” or “Give me a step-by-step procedure”. I know you don’t want an RTFM, but those sort of sentences make my blood boil.

The list could go on, but you get the idea.

I’ve tried to be tougher a few times, then felt guilty and reverted. I’ve also considered closing the forum a number of times and hanging out on the OTN forums instead. That way I could be more selective, helping the people that actually take the time to post reasonably structured questions.

For the most part I really enjoy answering questions and helping people, but the lack of effort on some people’s part gets on my tit end.

There is a sticky post at the top of every forum describing how you should ask a question in the forum. From now on, people who don’t follow the rules get ignored or their accounts deleted. I simply don’t have the will to carry on trying to help people who can’t even be bothered to write a reasonable question and then ignore my calls for clarification.

If you are one of the people in question and you think I’m being unreasonable, then I would politely suggest that you jog on!



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

11 thoughts on “Introducing the Hardline According to Tim Hall…”

  1. Congratulations Tim, on taking this stance. Long have I had bewildered admiration for your patience. My patience committed seppuku years ago for these exact reasons.

  2. Totally agree. It is a pleasure to help people that put some thought into their questions.

    At least in forums they are easier to ignore.

  3. Hopefully questioners put more thought into their questions than I did in phrasing that previous comment…

  4. Once upon the time when oracle-l was actually useful, I had a way of dealing with crappy questions. Then there was a “community decision” that such behaviour will no longer be tolerated and Steve Adams, capable of little else, was put in charge of enforcing the rules of good conduct there. As a result, oracle-l is a useless pile of s..omething that I no longer use. It took you a long time to learn that lesson.

  5. I think we all go through phases of varying patience. It can be a bit much finding the balance between doing it all yourself and a huge mosh pit like the otn forums.

    You should probably gentle this up a little and make it a sticky you point to whenever appropriate.

    (Hans, I always thought you were quite patient, did I miss something entertaining? 🙂

  6. I saw your post from the 14th (OMG! I give up!!! …). That rant was classic! Too funny, even tho you probably wanted to jump out a window. Anyway, your work is appreciated by more than you probably realize. Ignore the idiots I say, but don’t throw in the towel alltogether 🙂

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