How to help us help them - or How to give a good answer

Before we begin…

This forum is not a soapbox

You don’t work for Home Assistant, that’s an open source project. You are volunteering your free time to help others. You don’t have to respond to their rants…

:zero: Read the question

All the way through. Quite often the act of writing the post clarifies things in the poster’s mind, so that they only get to the real point in the last couple of lines. There may actually be several questions. They may have got hold of the wrong end of the stick entirely.

:one: Ask for clarification

Do you know what version of HA the poster is using, what their hardware is, what integration they are talking about? Ask to see code, traces, logs.

:two: Are you sure you understand the topic?

If you don’t, or if you sort of understand it, or if you vaguely remember reading something, don’t reply.

:three: Beware of rabbit holes

Reply to the original question, not to the comment before yours.

:four: If it turns out you were wrong, say so

Good practice is to edit your post, striking out the bits that were wrong. This makes it clear what you are correcting. It is customary to add an “EDIT: …” text section to explain what you changed if you didn’t cross out some text.

:five: Begin your answer by quoting the lines in the original post you are responding to

This helps to keep the discussion on track and avoids confusion if there are several aspects to the question.

:six: Stick to facts

No reason why you shouldn’t express an opinion, but if you are, or if you’re not sure, say so.

:seven: Link to the docs

Can’t hurt… It can also be quite useful to anyone reading the thread later - the docs are more likely to be kept up to date than posts.

:eight: Don’t recommend a YouTube video unless you have watched it yourself recently

They get out of date very quickly and you can’t update them.

:nine: Don’t use, or even mention, AI

No, really. Please don’t. RE: HA AI Help Policy

:one::zero: Be subtle

Not “You should…” but “Have you considered…”, “Have you looked at…”

:one::one: Don’t be afraid to back off, go silent & get a MOD involved

If you are offended, or the COC or other policy is violated, click the flag button. That’s what it’s for.

:one::two: Language

Don’t forget that many people are not posting in their first language. Be patient and ask for clarification if necessary. Could you ask a technical question in Polish?

:one::three: Searching

Don’t make sarcastic remarks about Googling the answer. Searching can be quite difficult if you don’t know the right search terms. Chicken and egg. You can even suggest a link to a search which might have a solution to the question, some people are better in searching then others.

:one::four: Don’t repeat answers

If somebody else has already made your point, don’t repeat it unless you have something to add. Give them a like! :heart: If you do have something to add, acknowlegde their contribution with a quote or tag.

:one::five: Beware of the xy problem

:one::six: Questions involving un-supported configurations

If the OP has a system that you know for a fact to be un-supported, or they are asking about creating an un-supported configuration, you are better off declining support related to this rather than making their problem worse.
Un-supported could be defined as is it’s not in the HA docs or official Github, or the docs/Github says specifically to not do it. I suggest explaining to the OP If you think it should be supported, do a feature request. If you think it’s a bug do an issue. I would then suggest that what you ask is unsupported and you need to do this in a supported manner if you want our help.
This ‘sticker’ is available if it helps your case. Use it without the ‘’ and it looks like below.
https://img.shields.io/badge/UN-SUPPORTED-pink.png


The Home Assistant Cookbook - Index.

13 Likes

Good list. I especially like this one:

This seems to be routinely ignored, especially in the monthly update threads. With the thread jumping around between so many different topics, it’s hard to tell who everyone is replying to.

Yes, I know you can expand the reply to show that, but in those threads 90% of the comments probably don’t apply to the reader. Don’t make them expand every one!

4 Likes

This one drives me nuts!!! All the questions that start with “I watched [this] Youtube video and [this] doesn’t work now” I pretty much tend to ignore as I don’t want to be an ass and say “RTFM!!!”. I’ve chimed in on a couple stating that Youtube is often very outdated, but man does it get tiring…

5 Likes