Lucas' Refuge

How can I help you?

August 10, 2022


"It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question."
Eugene Ionesco

Roughly speaking, I'd claim that most members of an organization are keen on helping their peers – tech companies being no different in my experience. In fact, it's very common for organizations to keep a wiki entry on how to properly ask questions, which is generally valuable guidance.

Still, there are people who just seem more effective at getting help, and I think that boils down to one thing: they make it easy for others to help them. More often than not, I feel there is just a rush to ask. And I understand. You need an answer and fast. That's not helpful, though. Usually, that goes like:

Person A: Hey, how do I do X?
Lucas: Why do you need to do X?

See, I had to ask you something back and that's not helpful – to avoid saying a misuse of time. There can be many variations of the dialogue above. After all, I can also reply:

I don't know about X.
You can't do X.
You can do X, but I don't recommend.
Though you can do X, you might just as well consider Y and Z.

In any case, I'll be asking you again not long after: why do you need to do that? My point is, I want to help, but so far, I can't grasp how. Therefore, most likely, I won't prioritize answering. All because I don't know your motivation. Thing is, there is rarely a single solution to a problem. Each has their quirks and to recommend something, there is more I'd like to know.

Certainly, I won't be conveying all the scenarios coming to mind, as my time is just as important. Furthermore, being someone who takes pride in my craft, I won't just say something for the sake of giving an answer. No. I want to assist you, remember. But just as much, I want my answer to be relevant.

And for that, I need context that is lacking. So explain why, but don't stop there. Send me your trace backs, paste your tickets, tell me what alternatives you have considered, mention what is the business use case, send me relevant links, etc.

Above all, do so in a structured, concise and coherent way. Don't let me stitching together ten poorly connected sentences on a chat window. No. Write it all. All at once – as a cohesive, single piece. Make it irresistible for me to get invested. And, rest assured, that help will come.

© 2022 Lucas Lira Gomes
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