This is an old revision of the document!
Answering questions is a purely volunteer effort, for charity, and just as you are free to ask questions, and to ask them how you like, everybody else is similarly free to ignore your questions or to answer them how they like.
These suggestions are meant to maximize the chances that you will get some replies, and useful replies.
As a side note, people asking questions should always remember that for those that offer help on IRC channels the upside is only ethical, and there can be and there are often significant practical downsides, on top of the time spent.
Some questions are about how to use a program, or sometimes how to do simple configuration. Some other questions however are about how to use or configure some core system feature. The latter usually cannot be answered in a simple, unambiguous fashion, unless the person asking the question already understands the topic pretty well.
Unfortunately system administration is usually intrinsically hard and it can take one to several years of study just to learn the concepts and terminology to discuss it properly and to understand the answers.
System administration topics are those related for example to: disk and filesystem configuration, driver installation, multiple booting, network and firewall configuration, font systems, sound libraries, DNS service, mail transport.
Most distributions have interfaces that present as options the more accessible tasks of system administration, just like other operating systems. This makes it easier to perform some actions, even if it does not make any easier understanding them or their consequences.
Support channels are there precisely to ask questions, and there is no need to ask permission or other introductions.
Just ask your question straight away, make it specific, give details (up to 3-5 lines of text), and don't address them to anybody specific.
Please state exactly what you have done and exactly what the error message is. Programs and computers can go wrong in very many ways, and each way can have many very different causes.
Always ask instead direct questions about technical matters to the channel (to nobody in particular). This is both because such questions are dumb (answering them literally may require global telepathy), and because the obvious aim of the question is to find someone to be your bitch.
Help is provided by the channel, not by anybody in particular. Don't assume anybody is there to be your personal helper.
Don't ask questions to someone specific However much you may wish to get a personal help bitch, attempts to treat the more helpful and useful volunteers in the channel as if they were will just drive them away.
Support is always and only provided by the channel as a whole, and answering a question is always purely voluntary. Addressing questions to specific people puts them under pressure to reply, and of course you may love it, but is counterproductive in the long term.
It is particularly counterproductive to use private messages, which should not be sent unless explicit permission is given.
However once someone has replied, it is quite helpful to address further discussions to the person who has replied, as that helps them keep track of specific threads of conversation.
Don't chat if the channel is busy
Before asking a question you should have tried to google it, or look in your systems local documentation.
Locally you can search all manual page by keyword with man -k keyword, use the info command to look at the table of contents of manuals of GNU packages, and look at the user manuals and HOWTOs in per-package directories under /usr/share/doc/.
To find software packages or other information by specific topic, use google with the word “linux” or the name of your distribution. If your distribution is Debian based, you can use apt-cache search keyword to search the available package list for packages related to that keyword.
The AfterNET #Linux channel is international, but the only common language to everyone in it (that we know of) is English.
The context should includes the distribution you are using, the kernel version, the program version.
It is often very important also to say what you are trying to achieve, not just what does not work, because in many cases what you want to do can be achieved in other and often impler ways, thus avoiding whatever problem you are experiencing.
It can take a while for someone to notice your question, or to stop doing what they are already doing and start typing an answer. Also, the more narrow the question is, the longer you should wait. This also means that you should repeat a question only if you wait at least 5-10 minutes.