How to get your forum question answered - avoid thread-jacking

3.26 (23 votes)

If you have just been directed to this page, it may be because you have just thread-jacked. If you are not sure what that means, read on for an explanation, and some guidance.

Thread-jacking is the practice of appending your question to an existing thread in a forum or news group. This is a relatively common practice among newcomers, and while you obviously weren't to know, it is discouraged. People thread-jack for two main reasons:

  • First, you may feel that your question is similar to the one that was asked in the initial post (or OP for original post).
  • Second, you may want to reference something in the thread to highlight a problem you are having, such as "I tried this approach, but can't get it to work".

Chances are that you found the thread as a result of using the Forum's search facility or Google, which is an excellent start to getting your problem resolved. However, if your question is the same and the thread is current, then you should wait until the thread is resolved at which point you should get the answer to your problem. If your question isn't answered by the end of the thread, then it must be a different question, and therefore should require a new thread of its own. If you want to reference an old thread or post, then start a new thread and post a link to the thread that contains the solution you are trying to implement.

Adding your question to a current thread might be considered very rude. It's a bit like walking in on someone else's conversation and shouting "What about me?". If anyone answers your question the thread is likely to get very confused, and no one will be quite sure who is addressing which problem. Try following this thread which illustrates the problem pretty well.

Resurrecting an old resolved thread (necroposting) reduces your chances of obtaining help. A lot of people who provide help are watching for unresolved posts, and will ignore a resolved one that has suddenly come to life again. Also, a lot of answerers at are "points-conscious", in that if their reply to a thread is "Marked As Answer", they are awarded extra points. However, only the person who started the thread has the facility to mark posts as answer. Since you didn't start the thread, there is no motivation among this group of answerers to help you, because you can't Mark As Answer on someone else's thread.

Thread-jacking might also be seen as a way of avoiding the delays that sometimes occur while a post is being moderated for approval. This can be frowned upon too.

So, start a new thread. But before doing so, consider the following general guidance:

  1. Google first. The vast majority of question posted to forums and newsgroups have already been asked and answered. You may save a lot of time by searching. I find this works particularly well if you Google your error message.
  2. If your question is of a general nature: "How do I use HttpWebRequest/SqlDataSource/GridView/ASP.NET Membership...*" try reading some tutorials first.
  3. Provide a meaningful title to the post. "Help ME!!!" is not meaningful. "URGENT!!!" suggests you are late with your homework.
  4. Make the title relevant to the problem. "Ajax Problem" followed by a description of the failure to update a database will get the wrong people looking at your post.
  5. Be specific. Don't just say your code "Doesn't work" or "is broke" . Explain what you are trying to achieve. What steps did you take? What happened? What have you already tried to resolve the problem?
  6. Avoid using SMS style abbreviations in your post. Many of us are too old to be bothered trying to deciphering it.
  7. Please DO NOT start your post with the word "So", as in "So I built this app...." **
  8. Don't give a detailed overview of the purpose of your application. It is rarely relevant to your problem.
  9. Show the relevant[1] code and error message if appropriate.
  10. Paste the actual code you are using - not a typo-ridden syntactically-rubbish "something that looks like it"
  11. Reference relevant material or threads if appropriate by providing links.
  12. If you really have to use an image as part of your post, use the Preview tab to make sure the link works.
  13. Say which language you prefer, if not obvious from your code.
  14. Say which database type and version you are using, if your question is database-related.
  15. Don't apologise for being new to anything. Everyone was once.
  16. Read what you have written before submitting your post. If English is your first language, and you haven't taken the trouble to ensure that your post makes sense, no one is going to spend time trying to make sense of it for you.

[1] "Relevant" code means sufficient to see the line that produced the error in context, or enough for people to create a sample page to test themselves. 792 lines of aspx mostly composed of styling information is enough to put anyone off reading your post.

Speaking of styling, if you don't know how to use external CSS files yet, you really are better off getting your page working properly before spending hours fiddling around with the Properties panel to format your various controls, especially if the result of the error you get means you have to replace controls, or the page entirely.

*Delete as appropriate

**Ok, so that's a personal bugbear of mine :-)

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- vikas

my question is:how to fetch data from database in radio button list.
actually i used data table to get data from database.

- Mike


Of course, an important part of getting your question answered is to post it somewhere where it is more likely to be seen. This web site doesn't qualify.

- rtpHarry

It must be late because I actually found the comment quite funny!

- Pradeep

i am doing masterpage in but i have problem with contentplaceholder i.e., it is not fixing to particular sixe pls give me reply to fix the ContentPlaceHolder in particular size

- Cralis

Do you know if SQL Server 2005 can handle CTEs? I know 2008 does... :)

- shalini


I'm following a guide to add new components to my VS2008. The API is called Hyperion Application Builder. The guide says;

1 Right-click on the Toolbox and choose Add/Remove Items. The Customize Toolbox dialog box opens.

There is no Add/Remove so I've selected 'Choose Items'

2 Click Browse and navigate to the directory containing the Application Builder.NET assemblies. The default directory is c:\Hyperion\habnet\bin.

I've done this.

3 Select the Hyperion.Objects.Essbase.Components.Web.dll file and click Open.

This has been done too and now I can see the .NET Framework Components listed in the 'Hyperion.Objects.Essbase.Components.Web' Namespace.

The next step (and this is the issue) says;

Double-click the DataServer component from the Toolbox to add it to the component tray and select the DataServer in the component tray.

I don't see the 'DataServer' component anywhere in the toolbox. Any ideas please?

- Terri Morton

How did I miss this post? Great stuff here, thanks! I'd drop #7, and I'd add another one: "Please state what you've tried so far to fix the problem." I've seen so many times where people reply to a post with suggestions, and the OP replies with a "I've already tried that!!" That is a huge time-waster and enthusiasm-buster.

- Mike


As I get older and older, people who commit sin #7 irritate me even more. I might elavate that to #1 ;o)

I can't help but wonder about the other comments on this article (apart from rptHarry's). I am still trying to work out whether they all have the same sick sense of humour as me.

@Other Posters: Guys - if you do have the same sense of humour as me, the joke is wearing thin. If you genuinely think this is the right place to post random ASP.NET questions, please read the article closely....

- Sumit Kumar

I want to populate a dropdown which is placed in EditItemTemplet of a gridview. I want when user click on edit then drop down list should be populated. I too want to call a javascript method which accepts textbox id as a parameter on its OnClick event. It is also taken as a element of EditItemTemplet of a grid view.

Please help me.

- Vinz

@Sumit Kumar,

Your question will not be answered if you post your issues here.

I would suggest you to post your issues at the appropriate forums at ( Please note that this article simply guides you on "how to get your questions answered in the forums.. " Please try to read the article again.

- Mike


Thanks for advising Sumit. And congratulations to you on being awarded MVP!

- Vinz

Thanks Mike! Congratulations for your MVP too.. :)


I was wondering if you could help me... :P

- nab

hey Can u teach tell me how .NET works? and.... ;)

- Mike

@nab and TGM

Laugh? I nearly started...


- sean

So, I was reading this article and ....

Good stuff ;0)

- Paul

I must say that this is good advice, but I must toss in "my two cents". When I started programming there was no google(hence my email) , anyway, I feel that google has helped to create a generation of lazy programers. I learned everything the old fashioned way(Reading books and trial and error) I have to say that I think its the best way. Simply copying and pasting someones code may get your program to work but it most likely will not teach you why it worked. So I would actually chaneg step 1 to: Read a 'How to program' book

- Imar Spaanjaars

Hi Mike,

Great stuff. Can you add one more about ur, be4 and coz not being words? And that u is just a letter and not a word to refer to me? ;-)


- Mike


Didn't I cover that in point number 6?


- Imar Spaanjaars

Oooooops,I should read better before I post. Guess I need to reread your rules... ;-)


- Zeeshan Umar

Really an interesting post, I have also observed it many time and it really distracts the attention of persons who are willing to provide solution. I think that for more than 50% of time instead of posting we should google or search in the forum because most of the problems are not new and if we use proper keywords for searching we might get an article or post describing how to resolve the problem.

Anyways, really nice article.

- James van Scoyoc

I understand why people get irritated at add-on, "me-too" comments on technical forum threads. But how does it make sense to start my own thread when seemingly thousands of people are facing variations on the same issue? I got sent here for replying to a thread about the website configuration tool in the Asp.Net forums.

- Mike


If thousands of people who seemingly face variations of the same theme all append their variation to one thread, it would become utterly unmanageable/incomprehensible/useless in no time.

- JX75

Maybe not your fault, but I hate it when a search on Google leads to a forum where a newbie asking my question is answered rather rudely to have a look to this very page...

You should use some HTML magic so that your site doesn't appear in Google searches. If you don't know how to do it, just use Google for an answer.

- v bvb

i created sample webpart control.i want to drag and drop from one web part control to another webpart control .its only working IE.but i want to work with Non IE browser.please help me how can i clear this issue.....

- Ryan

Great article and funny comments. A couple of days ago I was on AST.NET in the Getting Started forum looking at the unanswered questions. I posted a link to a how to guide with some code for one of the posters. He/she wrote back quickly to say something to the effect of: "That's not working code!! I want a program to plug in to my website! I also need C# code not VB!!!". That part wash't so shocking. The fact that a couple of people posted full examples of markup and code behind after that despite how rude this poster was. The poster never marked theirs as answers either.

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