The personal website of Chris Coyier

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”