NOTE: I originally wrote this article for Paganspace.net but I figured it would also be useful here.
There are guidelines to asking questions if you want satisfactory responses and to be taken seriously.
Every day I see people who don't get the answers they want, are ignored or ridiculed because of HOW they asked.
So, I provide to you my reader....
Micky's Guide to Asking Questions
o you have a question you want to ask of the interweb masses? The occult is a very confusing subject of study, the word does mean Hidden Knowledge after all. But before you ask your question, there is a step by step process you may want to follow, to determine whether you really need to ask it at all, and if so how you should go about asking it. Following this step by step guide, will ensure your question is answered accurately and quickly.Step 1: Consider the question before you ask it.
I frequently see posts along the lines of "Where can I buy books on the occult? I have no idea where to look!!!!". If this person had taken the time to think about the question before she had asked it, the obvious answer of "Your local bookstore" would have come to her. But by posting the question as soon as it popped into her head, she is no longer thinking about it, having handed that responsibility off to somebody else, looking silly all the while.
THINK THEN ASK is the rule here.
If the answer has not come to you after a day or so, or you don't have that much time, move on to step twoStep 2: Do some basic research.
Many common questions can easily be answered by doing a basic Google search. An example would be "How do I cast circle?" Typing "How to cast circle" into Google would have given you all the information you needed right away without waiting days for replies.
By not even doing a basic level of research you appear lazy to those who read your post. Many people take the attitude of "If you cant be bothered to even TRY to research it yourself why should I be bothered to help you" your post is likely to be ignored this way.
If you're uncertain how to research, here is a good method
Google the topic and read the relevant parts of at least five or six sites which look reasonably reputable (as in they aren't trying to sell you anything, aren't hosted by geocities or other free site providers and are well written)
If you find points of information which are common to all or most of the sites you have visited, those nuggets of information are likely to be reliable information.
If you are still unsure, or could not find any information, take what information you think is reliable and some that you're uncertain of, start a new thread in the appropriate section and move on to Step ThreeStep 3: Be Specific
The questions which are least likely to be answered are the ones which are extremely vague, very short or both.
One example is a post I found some time ago with the title "WITCHCRAFT SPELLS" and the body text "CAN SOMEONE HELP ME TO LEARN MORE ON THIS SUBJECTS" (Keep in mind this was on paganspace.net not here)
This person has not followed step 2, nor this step 3 (spelling/grammar and caps lock aside, this will come later).
The question is so vague, one has no idea where to start when answering, what kind of spells, what kind of witchcraft. The person has put no effort into articulating the exact nature of the question, simply banging out one line and walking away.
Again, this indicates laziness and lack of effort, it is also difficult to answer because the exact nature of the question is impossible to discern.
Also be sure to make your discussion title specific, "NEED HELP !!!!!!" is not specific, is cliched and sensationalist. None of these things endear you to your audience.
Once you have made your question specific, being sure to state exactly what it is you want to know, and giving a brief rundown of what you already know on the topic (so people don't tell you what you already know)
Move on to Step Four.Step 4: Use Spell Check
I cannot stress this enough! Check your posts for spelling, when you finish typing your post copy and paste it into a program such as Microsoft word and run a spell check. Or visit http://www.spellchecker.net/spellcheck/
Poor spelling implies several possible things to your reader.
-You are possibly very young and lacking maturity and experience.
-You are poorly educated
-You are lazy and cannot be bothered to correct your spelling.
Also look out for common cliches such as using several exclamation marks, typing in all caps, using net slang (lol) and sensationalist wording . These do not speak great tomes of your maturity.
Example: "NEED HELP LOL !!!!!!"
Once you have checked your spelling and weeded out common cliche's move on to Step FiveStep 5: Post, Pay Attention and Give Thanks
Post your message, pay attention to your replies and be thankful for them. Somebody has taken the time to consider your question and compose a reply, when they do, thank them for replying or imply thankfulness in your wording. Remember people answering your question is a privilege, nobody HAS to answer your questions.
Also actually consider their answers, fit them with what you know and make a decision inspired by them.
I recently encountered a discussion in which a 14 year old girl was asking whether she should start her own coven. The vast majority of people told her she should not, but she only payed attention to those who supported this idea. If you aren't going to consider the answers of people who may disagree with you do not post a question, what you are actually posting is a statement disguised as a question.
And there you have it I hope you found this guide useful and informative. Please reply with any constructive criticism you have.
May you find the answers you seek.