Why including a Link is Critical

To be read along with the Posting Guidelines, this point is important enough for a page of it's own.

Why post a link?

As one of our top contributors so eloquently put it, the reasons why we always suggest posting a link are simple:

  1. 90% of the time the error is outside of what is posted.
  2. Posting code usually garbles the actual code, which makes it impossible to debug. A simple thing like a missing semicolon on a line will cause code to fail.
  3. It is impossible to use the standard tools of debuggers, like Firebug without running it through an actual site.
  4. The rules of the game (Google's TOU) state that "The API may be used only for services that are generally accessible to consumers without charge." and as such, a link proves that you're playing along nicely.
  5. A lot of posted code contains things like "mysite.com" links to xml files, etc. There is no point in being secretive. If you want to be secretive, don't ask for free advice.
  6. Most of us don't like reading posted code. It's a waste of time and we have better things to do. If you want free help from an expert, I suggest making it easy for those people to help you.
We hope this clears up the reason why we ask for links. It constitutes the "rules of engagement" for asking advice.

or to put it another way...

Every morning (several time zones later than some) when I read the new posts and replies, I'm amazed at how much volunteer time, thought, and helpful spirit is wasted by the skilled and brilliant experts in this group, just coaxing people to make it easier or even possible to get some help.

People get quite creative in justifying their linkless posts, but I have to say, Sorry, your excuses don't cut it.
The experienced members of this list need something to work with if you want their help. Why act so rude and entitled towards volunteers helping you learn a free programming environment?

Written by: Bruce Van Allen