FAQ: Finding Answers About RT

Hello!

I’m hoping this message will help RT users and admins find better
answers more quickly by pointing out the resource at hand to help them
and providing some guidance on how to ask questions that get answers. If
this is well received, I’ll post it regularly and invite suggestions for
additions (and likely structure it more like a traditional FAQ).

Finding Answers About RT
Becoming familiar with RT and the resources available to answer your
questions can be difficult at first. Frequently you get no answers or
very terse answers which don’t seem to provide enough guidance. This can
be frustrating; it can seem like no one wants to help you when quite
often they do.

First, do the legwork
There are a number of places to start your research before you post to
the mailing list or send a note to someone who maintains some extension
of RT. Here are a few searchable places, listed in order of likely
usefulness:

http://wiki.bestpractical.com/ (the place lots of answers)
http://gossamer-threads.com/lists/rt/ (searchable list archives)
http://www.google.com/ (I generally start “+RT +MostUniqueErrMsg”)

Search there for answers to your questions. Very frequently you’ll find
just what you’re looking for and perhaps more.

Ask a good question well
Good questions are clear, concise, and demonstrate that you’ve done the
legwork as mentioned above. They also show an presumption of ignorance
on your part unless you’re absolutely certain you really understand
exactly what’s going on
. I’ve been working with RT for six years off-
and-on and I still learn new things … usually starting with an
incorrect assumption on my part ;]

A bit of an aside: nothing blows your credibility and diminishes
interest in replying quite like an it’s-all-screwed-up-and-must-be-a-bug
message. RT is a large, complex, mature software system and you’re
probably not the first person to want to use feature X. It’s very likely
that there are many people using that feature and they’d be happy to
help you join them

Also, choose a descriptive subject; it’s your first impression and will
determine who reads your message. Get the good bits early in the subject
(you don’t know how many characters I’ll see in my mailreader). Here are
some good ones (chosen randomly from recent postings):

Can rt users come from LDAP?
Installing RT on Fedora Core 4
RT VMWare Appliance
Show stalled on AtAGlance list?

Each of these gives clear guidance to the topic at hand. If it’s a
subject I might have unique knowledge on or a distinct interest in, I’ll
definitely make time to read it.

Here are some horrible ones (chosen randomly from long ago to minimize
embarassment):

RT questions
Lost information
Headings
Great Program!

As you can see from these last, I have no chance to know what problems
lie inside the email or whether I can provide uniquely useful
information. On a slow day, I might read one of these to see if I can
help. One a busy day, these go straight to the trash.

Here’s a decent framework to hang your question on:

I’m having problems properly configuring FOO. I thought I knew
how it worked, but my attempts have all failed and searching both
the wiki and the mailing list archives hasn’t improved my
understanding enough to make it work.

I’m trying to use FOO to BAR [insert concise statement of purpose]

So far, I’ve tried to [insert concise summary of the saga]

I’m using RT [version] on [OS and version] with [all pertinent
web server details like apache version, mod_perl/fast_cgi, etc.]

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Finally, ask the right people. Generally, you should direct your
questions to the rt-users mailing list as that’s the right place for
them (and nearly everyone on rt-devel is also on rt-users). Posting to
rt-users allows you the benefit of experienced RT admin’s knowledge,
which will likely solve your problem much more quickly than any other
approach.

The rt-devel list is for development issues such as “I’m thinking of
implementing thus-and-such and wonder how I should go about it” or “I
found a bug and fixed it; here’s a patch” and the like.

While it’s often tempting to think you’ve got a bug or critical issue
and should immediately send it to rt-devel, most of the time it’s not a
bug but a misconfiguration on your part which results in a terse note
pointing this out and directing you to do the legwork (as mentioned
above).

This may seem callous, but consider this: anyone with an
bestpractical.com email address is trying to make a living working on
RT; the rest of us have a full-time day job and voluntarily contribute
to RT as we can. None of us wants to give up precious development time
in order to do your initial legwork; conversely, we’re happy to help
once you’ve done it and still have questions.

Note that there’s an extensive treatise on the art of asking good
questions well at http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

Give A Little Bit
If you’ve come up with the answer to a sticky problem, consider giving
back to the community either by summarizing to the mailing list or into
the wiki. That’ll help the next generation of new RT admins … and save
you answering their questions on the list over and over again. ;]

Cheers!

–j
Jim Meyer, Geek at Large purp@acm.org

:slight_smile: Nice thing that people usually don’t read :slight_smile:
It should be shorter, a lot of philosophy water, people ignore such guides.On 3/22/06, Jim Meyer purp@acm.org wrote:

Hello!

I’m hoping this message will help RT users and admins find better
answers more quickly by pointing out the resource at hand to help them
and providing some guidance on how to ask questions that get answers. If
this is well received, I’ll post it regularly and invite suggestions for
additions (and likely structure it more like a traditional FAQ).

Finding Answers About RT

Becoming familiar with RT and the resources available to answer your
questions can be difficult at first. Frequently you get no answers or
very terse answers which don’t seem to provide enough guidance. This can
be frustrating; it can seem like no one wants to help you when quite
often they do.

First, do the legwork

There are a number of places to start your research before you post to
the mailing list or send a note to someone who maintains some extension
of RT. Here are a few searchable places, listed in order of likely
usefulness:

http://wiki.bestpractical.com/ (the place lots of answers)
http://gossamer-threads.com/lists/rt/ (searchable list archives)
http://www.google.com/ (I generally start “+RT +MostUniqueErrMsg”)

Search there for answers to your questions. Very frequently you’ll find
just what you’re looking for and perhaps more.

Ask a good question well

Good questions are clear, concise, and demonstrate that you’ve done the
legwork as mentioned above. They also show an presumption of ignorance
on your part unless you’re absolutely certain you really understand
exactly what’s going on
. I’ve been working with RT for six years off-
and-on and I still learn new things … usually starting with an
incorrect assumption on my part ;]

A bit of an aside: nothing blows your credibility and diminishes
interest in replying quite like an it’s-all-screwed-up-and-must-be-a-bug
message. RT is a large, complex, mature software system and you’re
probably not the first person to want to use feature X. It’s very likely
that there are many people using that feature and they’d be happy to
help you join them

Also, choose a descriptive subject; it’s your first impression and will
determine who reads your message. Get the good bits early in the subject
(you don’t know how many characters I’ll see in my mailreader). Here are
some good ones (chosen randomly from recent postings):

Can rt users come from LDAP?
Installing RT on Fedora Core 4
RT VMWare Appliance
Show stalled on AtAGlance list?

Each of these gives clear guidance to the topic at hand. If it’s a
subject I might have unique knowledge on or a distinct interest in, I’ll
definitely make time to read it.

Here are some horrible ones (chosen randomly from long ago to minimize
embarassment):

RT questions
Lost information
Headings
Great Program!

As you can see from these last, I have no chance to know what problems
lie inside the email or whether I can provide uniquely useful
information. On a slow day, I might read one of these to see if I can
help. One a busy day, these go straight to the trash.

Here’s a decent framework to hang your question on:

Subject: FOO config problems while trying to BAR

I’m having problems properly configuring FOO. I thought I knew
how it worked, but my attempts have all failed and searching both
the wiki and the mailing list archives hasn’t improved my
understanding enough to make it work.

I’m trying to use FOO to BAR [insert concise statement of purpose]

So far, I’ve tried to [insert concise summary of the saga]

I’m using RT [version] on [OS and version] with [all pertinent
web server details like apache version, mod_perl/fast_cgi, etc.]

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Finally, ask the right people. Generally, you should direct your
questions to the rt-users mailing list as that’s the right place for
them (and nearly everyone on rt-devel is also on rt-users). Posting to
rt-users allows you the benefit of experienced RT admin’s knowledge,
which will likely solve your problem much more quickly than any other
approach.

The rt-devel list is for development issues such as “I’m thinking of
implementing thus-and-such and wonder how I should go about it” or “I
found a bug and fixed it; here’s a patch” and the like.

While it’s often tempting to think you’ve got a bug or critical issue
and should immediately send it to rt-devel, most of the time it’s not a
bug but a misconfiguration on your part which results in a terse note
pointing this out and directing you to do the legwork (as mentioned
above).

This may seem callous, but consider this: anyone with an
bestpractical.com email address is trying to make a living working on
RT; the rest of us have a full-time day job and voluntarily contribute
to RT as we can. None of us wants to give up precious development time
in order to do your initial legwork; conversely, we’re happy to help
once you’ve done it and still have questions.

Note that there’s an extensive treatise on the art of asking good
questions well at http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

Give A Little Bit

If you’ve come up with the answer to a sticky problem, consider giving
back to the community either by summarizing to the mailing list or into
the wiki. That’ll help the next generation of new RT admins … and save
you answering their questions on the list over and over again. ;]

Cheers!

–j

Jim Meyer, Geek at Large purp@acm.org


http://lists.bestpractical.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/rt-users

Community help: http://wiki.bestpractical.com
Commercial support: sales@bestpractical.com

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Buy a copy at http://rtbook.bestpractical.com

We’re hiring! Come hack Perl for Best Practical: http://bestpractical.com/about/jobs.html

Best regards, Ruslan.

Hello!On Thu, 2006-03-23 at 00:28 +0300, Ruslan Zakirov wrote:

:slight_smile: Nice thing that people usually don’t read :slight_smile:
It should be shorter, a lot of philosophy water, people ignore such guides.

Yeah, I have that concern re: length. Some of it gets addressed by a
more FAQ-like approach with sections and a table of contents at the very
top, which might look like this:

Finding Answers About RT

  1. Introduction
  2. Do the legwork
    2.1 Resources
    2.1.1 Best Practical Wiki: http://wiki.bestpractical.com/
    2.1.2 List Archives: http://gossamer-threads.com/lists/rt/
    2.1.3 Google: http://www.google.com/
    [… &c.]

I think the philosophy is important for those who don’t understand why
these things are important (I was one of them, long long ago). As to
reading it, well, if you’re frustrated about not getting an answer you
really want/need and this gets posted (weekly? monthly?), there’s an
increased chance of getting your eyes on it.

I’ve tossed it onto the wiki (http://wiki.bestpractical.com/?
FindingAnswersAboutRT) at Jesse’s request. If nothing else, it can now
serve as one of those terse responses to poorly-asked questions. ;p

Cheers!

–j
Jim Meyer, Geek at Large purp@acm.org

I’ve tossed it onto the wiki (http://wiki.bestpractical.com/?
FindingAnswersAboutRT) at Jesse’s request. If nothing else, it can now

Bravo! +1 for including it in the footer added to each post on the
lists (or at least a link to the mailing list archives)! (and perhaps
getting rid of some of the other stuff?)

At Wednesday 3/22/2006 05:50 PM, Jim Meyer wrote:

Hello!

:slight_smile: Nice thing that people usually don’t read :slight_smile:
It should be shorter, a lot of philosophy water, people ignore such guides.

I like that phrase “philosophy water”!

The intention is good but I fear that this would just become noise,
so the wiki is a good place for it. You probably saw this already
Jim, but I just wanted to point out that some of the info is already
in the wiki under FAQ.

Thanks,
Steve

Hello!On Thu, 2006-03-23 at 09:44 -0500, Stephen Turner wrote:

The intention is good but I fear that this would just become noise,
so the wiki is a good place for it. […] some of the info is already
in the wiki under FAQ.

That’s kinda why I thought it should be a semi-regular posting to the
list – it’s either going unnoticed or unheeded. I’d guess it’s a
combination of low visibility and focused approach – most folks don’t
know about it until their first question is answered with a link; after
that, they mostly search with little exploration.

That said, it’s in the wiki:

http://wiki.bestpractical.com/?FindingAnswersAboutRT

… and I may add it to my .sig. =]

–j
Jim Meyer, Geek at Large purp@acm.org

That’s kinda why I thought it should be a semi-regular posting to the
list – it’s either going unnoticed or unheeded. I’d guess it’s a
combination of low visibility and focused approach – most folks don’t
know about it until their first question is answered with a link; after
that, they mostly search with little exploration.

I’ve just added it to the message sent to new subscribers to rt-users.

Let’s see how that does.

Jesse