When submitting a question to FreeBSD-questions, consider the following points:
Remember that nobody gets paid for answering a FreeBSD question. They do it of their own free will. You can influence this free will positively by submitting a well-formulated question supplying as much relevant information as possible. You can influence this free will negatively by submitting an incomplete, illegible, or rude question. It is perfectly possible to send a message to FreeBSD-questions and not get an answer even if you follow these rules. It is much more possible to not get an answer if you do not. In the rest of this document, we will look at how to get the most out of your question to FreeBSD-questions.
Not everybody who answers FreeBSD questions reads every message: they look at the subject line and decide whether it interests them. Clearly, it is in your interest to specify a subject. “FreeBSD problem” or “Help” are not enough. If you provide no subject at all, many people will not bother reading it. If your subject is not specific enough, the people who can answer it may not read it.
Format your message so that it is legible, and PLEASE DO NOT SHOUT!!!!!. We appreciate that a lot of people do not speak English as their first language, and we try to make allowances for that, but it is really painful to try to read a message written full of typos or without any line breaks.
Do not underestimate the effect that a poorly formatted mail message has, not just on the FreeBSD-questions mailing list. Your mail message is all people see of you, and if it is poorly formatted, one line per paragraph, badly spelt, or full of errors, it will give people a poor impression of you.
A lot of badly formatted messages come from bad mailers or badly configured mailers. The following mailers are known to send out badly formatted messages without you finding out about them:
Microsoft Internet Mail
As you can see, the mailers in the Microsoft world are frequent offenders. If at all possible, use a UNIX® mailer. If you must use a mailer under Microsoft environments, make sure it is set up correctly. Try not to use MIME: a lot of people use mailers which do not get on very well with MIME.
Make sure your time and time zone are set correctly. This may seem a little silly, since your message still gets there, but many of the people you are trying to reach get several hundred messages a day. They frequently sort the incoming messages by subject and by date, and if your message does not come before the first answer, they may assume they missed it and not bother to look.
Do not include unrelated questions in the same message. Firstly, a long message tends to scare people off, and secondly, it is more difficult to get all the people who can answer all the questions to read the message.
Specify as much information as possible. This is a difficult area, and we need to expand on what information you need to submit, but here is a start:
In nearly every case, it is important to know the version of FreeBSD you are running. This is particularly the case for FreeBSD-CURRENT, where you should also specify the date of the sources, though of course you should not be sending questions about -CURRENT to FreeBSD-questions.
With any problem which could be hardware related, tell us about your hardware. In case of doubt, assume it is possible that it is hardware. What kind of CPU are you using? How fast? What motherboard? How much memory? What peripherals?
There is a judgement call here, of course, but the output of the dmesg(8) command can frequently be very useful, since it tells not just what hardware you are running, but what version of FreeBSD as well.
If you get error messages, do not say “I get error messages”, say (for example) “I get the error message 'No route to host'”.
If your system panics, do not say “My system panicked”, say (for example) “my system panicked with the message 'free vnode isn't'”.
If you have difficulty installing FreeBSD, please tell us what hardware you have. In particular, it is important to know the IRQs and I/O addresses of the boards installed in your machine.
If you have difficulty getting PPP to run, describe the configuration. Which version of PPP do you use? What kind of authentication do you have? Do you have a static or dynamic IP address? What kind of messages do you get in the log file?
A lot of the information you need to supply is the output of programs, such as dmesg(8), or console messages, which usually appear in /var/log/messages. Do not try to copy this information by typing it in again; it is a real pain, and you are bound to make a mistake. To send log file contents, either make a copy of the file and use an editor to trim the information to what is relevant, or cut and paste into your message. For the output of programs like dmesg(8), redirect the output to a file and include that. For example,
% dmesg > /tmp/dmesg.out
This redirects the information to the file /tmp/dmesg.out.
If you do all this, and you still do not get an answer, there could be other reasons. For example, the problem is so complicated that nobody knows the answer, or the person who does know the answer was offline. If you do not get an answer after, say, a week, it might help to re-send the message. If you do not get an answer to your second message, though, you are probably not going to get one from this forum. Resending the same message again and again will only make you unpopular.
To summarize, let's assume you know the answer to the following question (yes, it is the same one in each case). You choose which of these two questions you would be more prepared to answer:
Example 1. Message 1
Subject: HELP!!?!?? I just can't get hits damn silly FereBSD system to workd, and Im really good at this tsuff, but I have never seen anythign sho difficult to install, it jst wont work whatever I try so why don't you guys tell me what I doing wrong.
Example 2. Message 2
Subject: Problems installing FreeBSD I've just got the FreeBSD 2.1.5 CDROM from Walnut Creek, and I'm having a lot of difficulty installing it. I have a 66 MHz 486 with 16 MB of memory and an Adaptec 1540A SCSI board, a 1.2GB Quantum Fireball disk and a Toshiba 3501XA CDROM drive. The installation works just fine, but when I try to reboot the system, I get the message “Missing Operating System”.