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Where to look for answers to technical problems


Table of Contents

When encountering a technical problems, a lot of people just immediately turn to Google for help.

But in these days, Google's ranking algorithm has been overly abused, its search results are very likely to be bunch of SEO sites full of advertising…

So, instead of using Google, usually I prefer to go directly to the upstream.

1. FAQ

FAQ is the first place you should go, because:

  1. It's literally "Frequently Asked Questions", unless your problem is very unique, you can find your answer here.
  2. It's maintained by the project, so it's usually up to date.

Some places to look for FAQ:

  1. man, info, and <cmd> --help
    • These documentations are distributed with your software, so you don't need to worry about versions.
    • They're the quickest to access!
  2. Root directory or Documentation directory of the project repository.

    You may need to checkout to the version you're using first.

  3. If the project have an official site, go take a look, there might be a FAQ.
  4. If the project is hosted on Github, take a look at its Github Wiki1

2. Issue or Mailing List

It's the place users and developers report and discuss BUGS.

According to my own experience, you may find out there that:

  1. It's a known BUG, and a fix is in progress.

    Then you can either try fixing it yourself, or simply wait :(

  2. It's a known BUG, and it's fixed in a new version.

    Then it's quite simple, just update your program.

  3. It's a known BUG, there's no elegant fix yet, but the developers gave a workaround.
  4. It's an unknown BUG yet, you should report it yourself.

3. Source Code

This is the most direct way of solving it, but unless it's a simple BUG, you may not known the project's source code enough to fix it.

Yet if you got extra time, and you're eager to learn more, maybe you should simply read and learn its code, then try to fix it. You may learn something useful tricks out of it :)

4. Limited Google Search

Try appending OR OR (and some other sites you like), to your search query.

After all, the main problem of Google, is that it's spammed by advertising sites. If we limit the sites for Google to search, it can usually generate much better results.



Actually, with, many projects' wiki can be searched by Google directly.