Enzo Conty

Freelance Sr. Mobile SWE

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Why "It doesn't work" should be a banned sentence.

The problem

Every day, I heard someone on some Discord, Slack, StackOverflow or even on some Jira tickets saying:

"I'm trying to do X and it doesn't work".

And if you recognize yourself in this sentence, you need to stop saying that. Even if you're not an IT person.


Why ?

Firstly, because this message is pointless ! You didn't give any context on your problem. We have no idea of what doesn't work:

In my mind, I have at least a few more questions on your issue:

What did you tried ? Did you get an error ? What is the result you expected ? Do you have documentation ? Did you google the error ? If yes, what did you tried then ?

Secondly, it can also be seen that you're lazy because you're not providing any useful information on your problem. A lot of people will not help you because they need to start sending you messages asking you for more details to try to understand the situation and it's time-consuming, even if you reply quickly. It's still a lot of time wasted for both you and the people that are trying to help you. You can also refer to https://dontasktoask.com/ to describe correctly your first message.

Finally, if you're not providing enough information, you will maybe face the X/Y problem: to describe it shortly it's when you ask how to do something (X), and somebody tells you to do something else (Y), but your original problem hasn't been solved.

The solution

In summary, you should stop saying:

"I'm trying to do X and it doesn't work".

But say:

"I'm trying to do X, I got this error, I tried Y, but I can't find a solution to my problem"

By doing so, you have a higher chance of reply, a higher chance of find help, and a higher chance to fix your problem.