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Ben Halpern for CodeNewbie

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Have You Ever Felt Intimidated to Ask 'Basic' Questions?

Sometimes, coders feel hesitant to ask questions they perceive as basic. Share a time when you overcame this hesitation and asked a question that turned out to be valuable to your learning process.

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Top comments (9)

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (

Being afraid to ask a question is very very common

Too much pride, too much ego, too much shame

I see multiple communities that have a channel #no-dumb-questions

And at some point you have to wonder: why is it necessary to say that in the first place ?

The issue is that devs and people in general have internalized super high standards of what "smart questions" are

Problem is that if you don't meet the requireemnts, by definition you are kind of dumb. And you don't want to be dumb, do you?

So you stay with your ego and your misery and stay with you unanswered questions, go in the internet, enter a rabbit hole, and do the same mistakes as everyone else.

I think this is a really toxic culture.

The most important questions in life are naive, are when you start, you don't even know how to formulate it properly.

Ask, just ask.

There’s no shame in asking a vague or incomplete question. That’s what questions are for. They’re to learn. So start with what you know to ask, and go from there.

The problem is not dumb questions, the problem who rush to give a quick answewr

mellen profile image
Matt Ellen

In the past, definitely.

Culture is definitely changing, so asking a simple question won't necessarily get you a "you should already know this" like it used to. (That's not to say it won't just that it's less likely than when I were a lad.)

I know I was raised to believe it is shameful to ask for help, which is what I believe this stems from. "If I can't ask the people who came before me for simple help, then you can't ask me."

At work, I am often asking simple questions, especially during training. We had some risk assessment training a few months ago and I got stuck on a point, so I kept asking for it to be reëxplained multiple times until I got it.

I think the reason I feel I can ask questions is in part the environment, and in part 17 years of building my confidence.

inovak profile image
Ivan Novak


But over time I've come to associate it as a hallmark of ego, impostor syndrome, or simply being afraid.

The cool things is, there's only one you.

Your experiences. Your unique path.

It's all led you to this point where you are now able to both recognize and articulate a question about a domain that you couldn't (or wouldn't) previously.

Questions are a wonderful thing. Keep learning!

kurealnum profile image

I would say no, but every time I ask a basic question, I always start with "I know this is really basic, but...". But as someone else mentioned, maybe it's an issue with ego for me.

baenencalin profile image
Calin Baenen

In the past, on StackOverflow, yes.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern


fluro profile image
Ashley Thompson

As someone who is relatively new to the industry, I think it's productive to be able to be in a position where it's encouraged and welcomed to ask questions. However, it's also important to empower those with questions to find their own answers rather than over-relying on others. After all, critical thinking is a skill we all need to develop over time, and just like asking questions, this should also be encouraged in a positive way.

schemetastic profile image
Rodrigo Isaias Calix

Yes but... how do you center a div? align="center" right?

sjmulder profile image
Sijmen J. Mulder

Oh yes, some communities just aren't that welcoming to let's say "handholding", especially if things are well documented. E.g. I wouldn't dare ask anything on openbsd-misc unless I've done research worth a PhD in the archives, documentation and source code - and even then! OK, exaggerating, but only slightly.