Good questions attract good responses.
Formulating a good question can help point to the answer.
Good questions help avoid embarrassment.
Read the relevant R documentation. Use
help.start() to start the
HTML search engine. If you are having trouble with function
?somefunc. If you are searching for a function,
help.search("somefunc"). Read the vignette(s) for the
Please include the R code that is causing the problem and enough data
for someone else to run the code and get the same problem.
Simplify code to a minimal, self-contained example. If reporting an
error, be sure to reproduce the error in a new R session, started
--vanilla option to avoid loading .Rprofile or .RData
Ensure that you are using the latest Bioconductor release and that your installed packages are up-to-date.
You may reply to an existing email if you are elaborating on or answering a previous question. However, if you are asking a new question, then start a new email message with a new subject line. Don't simply add a new question on a different topic as part of a reply to an existing thread.
Use an informative subject line that is as specific as possible. This will help attract responders and also helps others in the future when they search the archives. For example, a subject line "time course experiment using limma" might be better than just "limma".
Identify yourself. If you are using a non-professional email account, like gmail or hotmail, or the guest posting facility, then give your full name and professional affiliation. Anonymous postings are much less likely to get responses.
If you are asking for advice as to how to use a particular function or package, then explain fully what documentation you have already read and why this hasn't yet fully answered your question. This allows a responder to answer your specific question instead of simply referring you to the existing documentation.
If you are reporting a code problem, then include a simple and
reproducible example along with the output of
example should be reproducible by others, meaning that someone else
reading your post should be able to run the code themselves and get
the same output as you did. If the example produces an error,
provide the error message and the output of
giving actual output to demonstrate what you mean when you wish to
indicate that the code does not work as expected.
Send email to the appropriate list. Use the Bioconductor mailing list for questions about specific package, or conceptual questions. The R-help mailing list is for questions about the underlying R program. The Bioc-devel and R-devel lists are for discussing code development and other technical issues.
Ensure that your code is readable, and can be cut and pasted into an R session.
Use plain text instead of HTML; it is smaller in size and easier to read.
The following attachment types are accepted: png, pdf, rda/Rdata. Total message size cannot exceed 1MB. If larger attachments are essential, post them to a publicly accessible location and include the link in your email.
Package developers always appreciate being alerted to possible bugs, but be very sure that you have used the package correctly. In most cases, best practice is (i) to double-check the documentation and then (ii) report the behavior that was unexpected to you.
Read over your mail. Is it polite and easy to understand? Remember that responses on the Bioconductor mailing list are from volunteers.
Respond to everyone in the list, which ensures that your response is archived.
If possible, write an answer that can be understood by readers with different scientific backgrounds and skill levels / skill profiles.
When answering a question, consider including some explanation of how you arrived at your solution (rather than just writing a solution). This way, you help people not only to solve their problem at hand, but also to help themselves in the future.
Rudeness and ad hominem comments are not acceptable.
Brevity is OK. Consider, though, that information that is obvious and not worth mentioning to you may be very helpful to others.
If you believe the issue has been discussed before, please give the URL of the relevant thread or web site.
This posting guide has been heavily adapted from the R-help posting guide, various comments and suggestions by Bioconductor posters and inspired by Eric Steven Raymond's essay on How To Ask Questions The Smart Way.