The #windows channel

Help Guidelines

I’ve asked my question. Now what? If anyone wants to answer, they will. It is a good idea to first check for results from Google and/or the Microsoft Knowledge Base for common problems. (Check this Microsoft KB Article for information on effective searching).

Please note, if you’re here for help, it’s your job to help us see your problem!

Here’s some good advice for getting good help. Here’s more. We often see people describe their issues poorly or not at all, then expect to receive an instantaneous and complete solution. It rarely works that way. Please be patient and describe your issue carefully, completely, and concisely. Say what version of Windows you are using. Be prepared to answer a few questions from folks trying to help you.


If yes, do us and yourself a favor. Spend a moment in retreat to the happy place, or take a short walk or something. Negativity is very infectious. Venting your frustration and/or hostility to the channel will most likely not make people more likely to help you. People tend to be kind of like mirrors- whatever attitude you show them will tend to be reflected right back at you. No one on IRC is getting paid to wear a fake smile, treat you like a customer, and tell you you’re right.

If someone appears not to ‘get’ what your issue is - don’t get mad about it; explain it again in different terms. That someone was most likely trying to help you.

Also, be prepared to receive advice on how to avoid the problem in the future. Even if you didn’t ask for that sort of advice, please try to interpret their answers within the spirit of friendly help, rather than as a challenge to your technical abilities.

You may have to wait awhile for an answer.

Bear in mind, this is IRC. People may be watching closely - or they may be idle in channel while they are working, sleeping, eating. So be patient: you may get an answer in a minute, an hour, or a day. Don’t feel the need to repeat yourself (or leave!) because you aren’t answered straight away!

If you feel your question went unseen and you want to repeat it, please wait 10-15 minutes between repeats.

Also keep in mind that no one owes you an answer.

You may watch someone else getting long and detailed help while you get no help at all. This can happen for many reasons: no one knows the answer to your problem, everyone’s busy doing something else, and so on. You may have to wait. (see above).

Oh … and while you’re waiting, do feel free to help someone else!

We don’t believe “Just Google it!” or ‘RTFM!’ is a complete answer.

But most of us do believe in showing you where the friendly manual is. If you need more guidance, don’t be afraid to ask. We understand that in many cases, you’re not here for the book answer - you’re here for the experienced answer. However we’d prefer to point you in the right direction; not do your homework for you! IRC is just not a good medium for detailed, indepth troubleshooting or the step-by-step handholding kind of help.

If it’s not your PC, we won’t help you do things the owner(s) might not like.

A few examples:

It’s your parent’s computer and you want to bypass restrictions they set.

It’s a school or work computer and you’re trying to get around administrative policy.

It’s a friend’s computer and you are “just playing a prank” on him.

In these and similar cases we will refuse help. We’ll be polite about this. We hope you will be, too.

Notes to those giving help on the channel

No answer is better than a bad answer.

So if you aren’t sure of what you are saying, or you’re just guessing, please say so.

Or consider staying silent!

If you do answer - try to phrase your answers helpfully.

OS Contention/Evangelism

We’re living in the future now, and almost everyone knows Linux exists. Suggesting to install (insert OS name here) over Windows is not a solution. So we’d really appreciate if trollish statements like ‘delete windows, install linux’ could be avoided altogether. A person looking for help with a problem doesn’t want to be ‘sold’ on a whole new OS. Even if you’re joking, telling people to remove Windows and install Linux just isn’t a good way to create a good impression of the Linux community.

Preaching an operating system in depth is not a solution either; we do respect meaningful conversation about operating systems, but overzealous evangelism and overly negative remarks about Windows will result in a mute or ban. Thanks for understanding.