#1 – Check The Source, Luke
Come to know and love your debugger. Learn all you can about best debugging techniques. Every minute invested in learning to debug well will pay off in hours of saved time. Before you ask a question, be sure you’ve eliminated anything obvious.
#2 – Bing!
In recent months I’ve found that 90%+ of my questions can be answered with one or two Bing searches. http://tinyurl.com/37f2t6d
#3 – Use The Forums
The single best place to get your questions answered are the Silverlight Forums.
(Now, I know that forums are often a company’s way of saving money on customer service, but the dev team and the Community PM’s & Evangelists monitor these forums carefully, so it really is a lot quicker than sending email.)
#4 – Create A Question That Is Likely To Be Answered
Pose your question as briefly and clearly as you can and give your question a great subject line so folks who know the answer are likely to respond.
#5 Summarize the Question In The Subject Line
Most folks are more likely to open a question with the topic “How Do I sort a column in a datagrid” than one with the topic “Help, Urgent!” even though the latter may, in fact, be more urgent
#6 Be Brief
The shorter your message and easier it is to read, the more likely you are to get an answer. Don’t make the people who want to help you work harder than necessary.
#7 Write Down the Exact Message
It is far easier to help someone if they say “The second time I click on the button I get a an exception saying that I’ve tried to access a null object,” than it is to help someone who writes “Sometimes my program blows up and I get an error.”
#8 Provide An Example
The single most effective thing you can do to get help is to write the smallest and simplest example that shows the problem. It should be so small it fits cleanly into your message – not as an attachment (many folks are reluctant to open attachments). It should do only one thing, and that is illustrate the problem, and it should be self-revealing.
#9 Follow Up
Didn’t get an answer after a few days? Try reforming the question or changing the subject line to make it more clear or to appeal to the right expertise.
#10 Write To Me
If after a few more days you still have no answer, drop me an email detailing what happened with the forum (ideally provide links to your messages). I’ll follow up either personally or by making sure the right folks see and respond to your question as quickly as I can.