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How do I ask a good question?

Writing good questions is a lot harder than writing good answers!
To help you out, here are some tips on asking good questions on Server Fault:

  • Be On-Topic
    To improve the chances of your question getting good answers, make sure that it is about systems administration in a business environment.
    If your question concerns personal equipment in a home environment, or you are a developer, enthusiast or user with a general learning question, your question might belong on Super User, Unix and Linux, or one of the many other Stack Exchange sites.

  • Search and research
    Server Fault should be your last stop in your quest for an answer, and you should tell us what you found/tried in your research and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

  • Explain what you're trying to do, and why
    The why is often more important than the what: the underlying requirements help define the correct solution. Questions that suffer from The XY Problem (asking about the proposed solution rather than the problem that needs to be solved) do not tend to attract good answers.

  • Ask a question
    A collection of technical details and error messages is not a question. Be specific about what is you need an answer to, otherwise we have to guess what you actually need, and we're likely to guess wrong, leaving everyone frustrated and disappointed.

  • Include relevant details
    We expect you to be able to distill your problem down to something we can analyze - dumping an entire error log and server configuration on the site with "please help!" will not be well-received, but specific errors from your logs and the section of the configuration file they're referring to will be very helpful.
    Examples of things to include are:
    – Your operating system and version (use the appropriate tags too!)
    – Hardware and Firmware versions, where appropriate
    – The expected and actual results of commands you ran, where appropriate
    – Relevant sections of server logs and configuration files

  • Formatting, Grammar, and Spelling count!
    Write a question that's easy to read and you will probably get more answers than a wall-of-text riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes.

  • Keep an open mind
    The answer to your question may not always be the one you wanted, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. Sometimes what you're proposing is not advisable, or needs to be accomplished in a different way from what you're proposing.
    When in doubt, ask people to cite their sources, or to explain why theyare suggesting a specific course of action. Even if we don’t agree with you or tell you exactly what you wanted to hear, remember: we’re just trying to help.

We also have extensive resources on our Meta site to help you form great questions: