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Please follow the standard litany when giving a problem report.

You've come to this page because you've reported a problem, for which you want a diagnosis and a remedy, but have not answered one or more of the questions in the standard litany.

This is the Frequently Given Answer to such reports.

Every good bug report needs exactly three things:

  1. Steps to reproduce,

  2. What you expected to see, and

  3. What you saw instead.

Joel Spolsky

Any problem report must provide

This applies to problem reporting in any field. It is just as true when one is reporting problems in a technical discussion forum, such as a Usenet newsgroup, as it is when one is describing a illness to one's doctor or a problem with one's car to one's car mechanic.

Providing this information with respect to problems with using tools or machines is done by a standard litany of questions and their answers that you must provide. The questions are:

A problem report that doesn't answer all of these questions is incomplete, and contains insufficient information for diagnosis and prescription of a remedy. If you don't supply this information right at the start, you'll waste yours and others' time, and delay the actual remedy to your problem, by forcing everyone to spend one or more rounds of communication back and forth simply trying to wring the relevant information out of you.

Your message should give complete answers to the following three questions:

  1. What exactly did you do?

  2. What exactly did the computer do?

  3. What exactly did you expect the computer to do?

Daniel J. Bernstein

The questions in the standard litany can be paraphrased when it comes to the use of computers:

Note the words "actual", "exact", "complete", and "precisely". Problem reports that are vague or superficial are worthless. ("I'm ill, doctor. Help!")

Also note that problem reports that you deliberately distort will yield an incorrect diagnosis and very probably an ineffective remedy.

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