Asking questions [Was: hello]

From: <Christopher>
Date: Sat Jan 12 2008 - 00:48:00 EST

I can't tell if you have a problem with the notion of asking questions the smart way or with trying to paint me as an old fart. Either way I think I'll stick to my guns. I've been in this business over 40 years, and I know something about how to ask questions and how to answer them. It's one of the most important things a sprog engineer will ever learn.

On Jan 11, 2008, at 2:04 PM, shahid Rafiq wrote:

> Dont compare questions like, "How to design pipe" with "where is
> light switch?" Answering each has different results.
I wasn't comparing questions--I was illustrating a stupid question with a typical type of stupid question in the hope that people would remember that there are indeed such things as stupid questions and avoid them.

> "Remember like a sage" means
> 1. Respecting the person who is being asked.
> 2. Using the new acquired knowledge to the present problem and in
> future with such problem.

I expect remembering like a sage really means that you should ponder the answer and determine how it fits into the remainder of your knowledge. That's what sages do.

> A teacher or senior tells the solution of a problem in much less
> time which is why people turn to them. Studying, refering the
> library, search for the right source takes more time.
A 'teacher' (which none of us is, BTW) can only respond to what he's asked. If the 'student' can't ask a clear, sensible question no teacher can provide the answer the student is looking for. Moreover the correct answer to the wrong question does no one any good.

> And by the way you used your right not to like the saying.
And I do thank you for the opportunity.

> You spend too much of your precious time telling people that they
> should ask very advanced knowledge questions.
I don't spend any time at all telling people to ask advanced questions. I do spend a lot of time telling people to ask sensible, well-thought-out questions because only sensible questions get sensible answers. Part of asking a sensible question is to dig around a little before asking so you'll ask a smarter question and better understand the answer. And I think it's fair to point out that if you want to depend on a 'teacher' to give you an answer for what's bothering you, you should expect an lecture from time to time.

> You also tell group that do some research before posting question.
> Believe me the answer to all the questions are found somewhere no
> matter how advanced these are. If everything could be studied with
> the help of books and internet ONLY then nothing would be taught in
> schools and universities. No teacher would be hired in universities.
Believe me when I tell you that anyone who expects to do something meaningful in this business needs to learn to rely on his own resources and to figure things out for himself. Teachers can help, but learning takes place between your own ears, not because someone tells you something is so. Anyone who thinks he can become an engineer or designer by picking other people's brains will end up as a second-rate wannabe, if he doesn't get sacked because he can't pull his weight.

This list would be no use to anyone who doesn't know how to ask questions, even if there weren't old crabs nagging people to think about their questions before they ask them. Doing your homework is part of asking a proper question. The question is very much like a design problem in micro-scale. Design proceeds from what you have and what you know to something you don't have and may never have seen. A question proceeds from what you know to something you don't know. If the design process isn't organized to build on something which exists, success is only dumb luck. And if a question is asked carelessly and not logically built on what you understand, you get nowhere.

A question like, 'How do I design a pipe?' is unanswerable--you spend at least two years if not four, just to learn enough to begin as a trainee. Such a question possibly be answered by e-mail in a couple of paragraphs. Moreover 'design' can mean a hundred things, from making layouts or arrangements to fluid resistance calculations to stress analysis to making fab drawings or doing process analysis. All of these are design tasks, and every one of them takes years of experience to perform unsupervised. Even if someone wanted to, it's unrealistic to expect that they'll lecture endlessly until you think you understand what you think you want.

> Ok, I want to be kicked out of the group.
You'll have to kick yourself out--follow the instructions at the bottom of each post.

Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at | this distance" (last words of Gen.

.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania
1864) Received on Sat Jan 12 00:48:00 2008

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