by Leon Rosenshein

Asking For Help

I love helping our customers. As a person on the infra team I get to see my customers every day and I get to see the results of making their lives easier, helping them build self driving cars that drive more than themselves. Asking for help can be a good thing. You save time, you get to learn something, Knowledge is shared. If you do it right you also make it easier for the next person who runs into the same problem. But that's a topic for a future post.

Today's post is about a pet peeve of mine. As much as I loved to help people, sometimes it's hard. The worst is when someone posts a screenshot of some error text in the console. No context, no idea what the command was, not even copyable text. Just an image. And usually a blurry jpeg. Please don't do that. Whether it's email, slack, a bug report, or carrier pigeon, post real text. And post the command that led to the error. The more context you can provide the easier it is to help you and the less back and forth I (or anyone else) needs to do.

There are lots of lists of why this is a bad idea online, but my top few are:

  1. I can't copy/paste the text, so it's hard (impossible?) to reproduce
  2. Screenshots usually miss something important
  3. Images aren't searchable (makes it hard for the next person with the problem to find the answer)
  4. Invisible/non-printing/unicode issues are hidden.