Why didn’t you answer my question?

I get a lot of questions every day. Here are some tips to increase your chances
of finding the answer you need.

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Why didn’t you answer my question?

That’s a fair question. I don’t answer all the questions I get, and I also don’t respond to all the comments that are posted.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I can’t. There are simply too many questions coming in every day for me to address each and every one. I do have to prioritize and select those questions I can answer that will also benefit the most people when I post the answer.

Let me give you some tips that’ll help increase the odds.

How to best get your question answered

Use the search box at the upper right of every single page. There are over 4,000 articles (that’s four thousand). A significant percentage of the questions I get every day are already answered by one of them.

Get up to date first. Most all solutions assume that everything is up-to-date. That means Windows, your security software, your applications and anything involved at all with whatever problem it is you’re experiencing.

Scan for malware first. A surprisingly large number of my answers begin with “run an up-to-date anti-malware scan”. You can save time by doing that before you ask.

Be clear. Sadly I don’t know how to put it more clearly myself. If I can’t understand your question you will not get an answer.

Be complete. Provide as much information about your problem as you can:

  • Windows version
  • Software versions
  • Machine make and model
  • The exact steps that caused the problem
  • Exact error message
  • Anything else that might be relevant

I absolutely realize that you might not know exactly everything that’s relevant, but I do need a lot more that “it doesn’t work” to go on.

And for the other side of the coin:

Reasons I might not answer your question…

It wasn’t in English. Sorry, but I only read English.

It wasn’t clear. I get a surprising number of questions that are, as far as I can tell, nearly unintelligible. I do my best, but if I can’t figure out what you’re asking or talking about, I can’t answer your question. That includes avoiding most “netspeak” shorthand and “l33t” speak.

There wasn’t a question. Many questions I get don’t actually ask me anything, so there’s no need for me to respond. “My Hotmail doesn’t work” is a good example.

The question is incomplete. I need details to help you – operating system, specific error messages, what you were doing, or attempting to do, at the time of the problem you might have been having. While I’d love to, I just don’t always have the time to ask you lots questions in response to your question to get at what’s happening. “Why doesn’t my Hotmail work?” is a classic example.

The question isn’t about technology. I get a lot of geography questions, political questions, and other random things. I even get the occasional personal advice question. None of those are my area of expertise – I do questions about computers and technology.

You mistyped your email address, or you didn’t provide one. This happens surprisingly often. If I can’t send you email, or my email to you bounces, I have no other way of getting it to you.

The question asks me to do something questionable, or possibly even illegal. I cannot get your password back, I cannot crack your account or someone else’s. I cannot hand out activation codes for anything. All such requests are simply ignored.

The question is already answered on the site. Actually I try to respond to these with a pointer to the article that answers your question, but when the load gets too heavy, this falls by the wayside also. Use the search function to find the answers that are already here – heck, it’s typically what I do myself to locate the article I’d point you at.

The question asked in a comment is answered by the very article that the comment is posted on. I’ll admit it – I just don’t get this. There’s text near the comment box that says “read the article”. Yet I get comments posted that are clearly from people who have not, because it’s answered by the article. So, I typically ignore these.

I don’t know the answer, or I have nothing substantive to add to the conversation. For submitted questions, I typically do not reply if I don’t know the answer. I may put the question into a queue for future research. For comments posted on an existing question, if I have nothing to add, I won’t. What’s great about comments is that other readers often do.