Out With The Facts

A kid is eating an ice cream cone inside, in a room away from where the adults are. They drop the ice cream cone on the floor.

A young kid might come into the room with the adults and say “I dropped my ice cream cone on the floor!” And the adults would clean it up.

A slightly older kid might come into the room with the adults and say “Excuse me where are your paper towels?” Then proceed to rub chocolate ice cream deep into the carpet without the adults even knowing what was going on.

It takes an pretty mature kid to give the perfect response: “I dropped my ice cream cone on the floor, can you help me find the supplies to clean it up?”

Notice that the young kid’s response was closer to the ideal response than the mature kid. The response is more useful because it starts with the facts. It’s easiest to help when you start there, rather than launch into a proposed solution in which the problem has to be inferred, if thought of at all.

This isn’t isolated to kids. I notice it just as often (actually more often, since I’m not around kids much) with adults.

Valid question, but doesn’t just come out with the facts of what the problem actual is:

“Can you float an element that is inline-block?”

Starting with the facts is far more useful to the potential helper:

“I’m having trouble with this layout, this elements is being floated but not behaving as I expected”

One response to “Out With The Facts”

  1. Jeff Lau says:

    I agree that the facts should come first for the solution to be the best and I think there’s obviously a consciousness of people asking for help to not feel like they need ‘that’ much help so by asking a question that might answer their problem they might save some face.

    Another possibility be one that I experienced a couple days ago that you aren’t actually sure what the facts are. I was working on my portfolio site and made it responsive and then I went to look at it on my iPhone and the navigation wasn’t just screwed up – it was absolutely ginormous. It was working fine in chrome, safari, firefox. And i had no idea what was going on. So i was googling stuff like ‘iPhone responsive design problem’, nothing was coming up. Then i realised after probably atleast half an hour of trying random stuff to fix it I realised I had closed my tag as an and that had destroyed my layout on the iPhone. Anyway my point is – I had no idea what the facts were! Weird problem though – everything else was fine on other webkit browsers.

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