When to ask stupid questions

The phrase “there are no stupid questions” needs to be deposed, banished, and replaced by its much smarter brother “fear ignorance”. /.

There are stupid questions, and you should try to avoid asking them

Stupid questions are questions you should and could know the answer to, but find it more convenient to ask to save yourself the time or bother of looking it up.

I had a bad habit of asking other developers stupid questions because it saved me a few seconds:

  • Is assembly X deployed to the GAC or the bin?
  • When was the staging server last refreshed?
  • What is configuration X on the server set to?

I can answer all of these with a little bit of work and they were all stupid questions.

Of course, the natural habitat of stupid questions is meetings. Most stupid questions in meetings stem from someone not having spent five minutes reading the itinerary or familiarizing themselves with the issue being discussed (which is sadly a lot of meetings). Don’t be that guy/girl. Be afraid of having the ask stupid questions because you didn’t read the itinerary or didn’t review the codebase being discussed.

Be afraid of asking stupid questions, be more afraid not knowing the answers

If really don’t know and can’t find the answer, you need to start asking the stupid questions. Most of the time stupid questions are just stupid questions. But if you’re done your homework and still find yourself confused, ask the stupid questions.

At the end of the day your fear of ignorance should override your fear of asking stupid questions.

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