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Forum usage

Guru 227705 points

Replies: 19

Views: 63138

After reading this forum for some time and writing 'some' posts myself (this is #720), I'd like to ask people to follow some guidelines when using this forum.
It makes life easier for the others.
This is of course not a must and I'm not a TI employee nor an admin. This are just my wishes based on my experiences here.

So my pleas are:

One question, one thread.

If you have a question, please open your own thread. Don't put your question at the end of an old and possibly totally unrelated thread. There is a 'new post' button on top of almost each page, which will allow you to open your own, unique thread (or opens a menu in which you can select the forum in which to start a new thread).

If you find a thread that covers the topic of your question and you just want to ask for some clarifications, then you may of course add the question there. But it is an absolutely unacceptable style to post ten pages of source code and a question about timers in a thread that is about SPI programming. It happened a lot in the last weeks.

Use the search function and the taglists.

If you have a question or a problem, please use the search function (the field with the spyglass, not the 'search by keyword' fields in the black top menu bar) or look for a tag in the taglist.
Chances are, that your exact question has been answered a gazillion times before. And by reading these answers, you'll save yourself a lot of time writing your question and waiting for the answers, while it saves all others the time to re-read the same question over and over again. One day, nobody will answer anymore.

Use a telling thread name.

Threads with a name like 'Help!' or 'Urgent!' are the ones with the least chance of being read and answered. The Forum is slow and opening a thread without knowing what it is about, just to discover that it is of no interest is a waste of time. And personally, I don't do it anymore.

Don't tag your questions.

The tags are used to find threads dealing with a special topic. The persons who will most likely use a tag are those who are looking for an answer, not those who are looking for a question. It makes no sense tagging a question. And every new tag makes the forum a tad slower too.
Edit: I'm told that the tags are too used by the 'officials' to assign new questions to the person who is best suited for an answer. So don't create a tag, rather use, if possible, one of the already known tags in the tag list. And limit the tags you use to those one or two that are closest to the problem.

Tag your answers.

If you answer a question, you should tag your answer. So everyone looking for a similar thread can easily find it by this tag. But only tag real answers and solutions. Not comments or smalltalk. And it is not necessary to use a tag that has been already used for a previous post in this thread.
If it turns out that your answer was wrong ('wrong' as in '1+1=3'), then please remove the tags as they serve no purpose anymore. If the answer was correct but did not match the question (or the problem turned out to be a different one), then of course the tags still have a meaning.

Tag carefully.

Excessive use of tags is counterproductive. It's like googling for 'Pamela Anderson' some years ago - one got gazillions of hits and it was almost impossible to find the few related hits in this mess. Use one or two tags which cover the topic but are not too specific.
'My great solution for timer A problems on an MSP430F5438' isn't a good tag. 'TimerA', however, is.
There is a 'select tags' button beside the tags field. clicking on it will show you which tags are already used (so re-using them is a good option). It will also show how many tags of no meaning (because nobody would ever search for them) have been used already. It's be far the majority.

Don't expect others to do the job for you.

This forum is E2E: Engineer-to-engineer. And not 'free individual code solutions for lame people'. I've read several posts in the past weeks where people asked 'My Professor wants me to do this. Can you tell me how or provide code?'.
The topic of this forum is to help engineers when they have problems using special features of the different MSPs. Or if documentation is unclear or does not match the apparent behaviour of the device. It is not a beginners school for C programmers nor a free software pool for 'own' projects.
Almost nobody here is paid for his time, so don't expect that you'll get your diploma thesis done here for free just because you bought a TI chip for $2.

and last but not least:


Many questions are superfluous by a deeper look into the device datasheet or the family users guide. Maybe these documents are not complete or won't show the required information where one would expect it. Yet I often enough find the answer to a forum question right before my eyes when I open the datasheet.
If I read questions like 'what is ACLK?', then I can only shake my head.
I know it's easier to ask than to read (and understand) a datasheet, but in the very most cases, all who can answer the question do have the same base material as everyone else and no secret book with answers and additional information.

And one from Priya Thanigai: 

Mark the post as 'Verified Answer' if (and only if) it answers your question

This helps us help you and it takes very little additional effort.
By marking posts as 'verified'; unanswered questions filter more easily to the top ensuring that the next time YOU post a question it does not land in page#10 afer 3 days (where it may be forgotten).
Don't mark your own post as verified answer unless you indeed figured it out yourself and the post contains your solution.

And another thing...

Provide information

If you just cry for help "My code does not work. Please help!", nobody will be able to help.
Post your code. Post the exact compiler errors. Provide any information that might be related to the problem.
Don't forget to mention the processor you use. There are many different MSPs. With different possible problems.
And in some cases, even the schematics are important.

Final advice

There's an excellent article about how to ask questions. It not only covers what information to provide but also gives quite a number of really good hints how attract people to answer you rather than repel them.
This article can be found here.

Edit: Today (April 21st, 2015) I've seen an excellent video about questions.
Basically, before asking 'how', tell us 'what' and 'why'. And the more detailed you do it, the higher is the chance of getting an answer to the 'how'.

The video can be seen here: