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Tony's picture
Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Timezone: GMT+10
Joined: 2003-03-12
Posts: 5344
Points: 2965

It always puts a smile on my face when I see someone asking for help in one topic then helping someone else in the next.
So I thought it was about time to offer some suggestions on how to find solutions and ask for help correctly.

However, be warned; we are not a one-stop fix-it shop for your HTML and CSS problems. None of us get paid to be here, this is all voluntarily. We do not simply 'fix up' your code and send you on your merry way.

We are here to help you, but only if you are willing to help yourself. If you come here expecting us to do your homework for you, then you will be shown the door Laughing out loud

1. Search

Before posting do a search and see if you can find a similar problem with a solution.

2. Link

Provide a link where possible, and try to make the page as clear as you can, so it's easier for people looking at the code to see what's going on. If you can, put the CSS into the head of the document and use full paths to any images. This way, we can download the page locally and still see it how we should, without having to change paths etc.

If you can't upload the page anywhere, then at the very least post your code between the [ code] tags, so we can see what you've tried. Please include all CSS and HTML code - you cannot hope to deem what is necessary to diagnose the problem.

If you are stripping your code to a bare minimum to show us the problem, you must still include a doctype.

3. Hand Code

Please do not get embroiled in Dreamweaver or Frontpage. WYSIWYG editors do not write code, you do. DW has the habit of turning out dodgy code and of luring the user into a false sense of security.

You have the opportunity to learn the not-so-difficult art of hand coding, which will reap many benefits down the road. You will find your understanding of the structure of code and general advancement to be far quicker.

Use DW as an editor if you must, but steer clear of it's many oh-so-helpful facilities, such as preview modes and WYSIWYG modes - they lead to grief.

Only ever check your work in that which will be ultimately rendering said work, i/e a browser, preferably FF initially to confirm correct coding and then IE to see what adjustments need to be made.

- Hugo.

4. Validate

Validate your CSS and Markup (HTML or XHTML). A great resource for using the validator can be found here.

The most common mistake with a page is the lack of a doctype. If you don't have one, Pineapple will be the first to let you know Laughing out loud.

Without a doctype a browser is free to display the page as it likes. With a doctype it is forced to use the set of rules described by that doctype. Create yourself a basic empty web page, which you can use as the starting point for any web page you build.

Here is one submitted by Chris..S

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" >
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="application/xhtml+xml; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<title>Web Page Template</title>

<style type="text/css">

<script type="text/javascript">



Also, remove the XML Prolog. This is the code that starts <xml version="... >. It is unnecessary (unless using an XML file), and causes IE to be thrown into Quirks mode. This is a bad thing. For a demo of how this affects IE, check out this page.

5. Explain

Explain the problem as clearly as possible, mentioning which browsers you have tested it in - and which don't do what you want.
See How To Ask Questions the Smart Way.

6. Wait

Be patient and polite, no one here is paid to help and we all have other lives to live.

7. Rephrase

If you have had no response after a day or so, try rephrasing the question. This marks the topic as a new post and wording the question differently may make it clearer.

8. Double Posting

Don't double post; we will see the first post - use the method above if no-one has responded.

If you feel the need to bump your thread, then please wait at least twenty-four hours before doing so.

9. Solution

If you find a solution to your problem let us know so that others can learn from your knowledge and we can stop trying to fix something that ain't broke.

10. Best Reply

If one of the reply's to your problem provides an answer, mark it as the Best Reply. That way others will be able to find the solution to similar problems easily and the author of the reply will receive some recognition.

Techniques to solve problems:

a. Make a copy of the page so you don't mess up all your hard work.
b. Simplify the page as much as you can remove unrelated elements.
c. Isolate the problem by commenting out sections of the CSS.
d. Use borders or background colors to show positions of the elements your working with.

Get Firefox, plus the web developer and CSS extensions they come in really handy.

Please add any techniques you use that I have failed to mention.

co2's picture
Last seen: 14 years 43 weeks ago
Joined: 2003-09-17
Posts: 721
Points: 0

Before posting, please read this.

Great advice! Any chance of making it a sticky on all of the forums? Wink

The next sentence is true. The previous sentence is false. Discuss...

dJomp's picture
Last seen: 7 years 1 week ago
Joined: 2003-03-23
Posts: 422
Points: 0

Before posting, please read this.

I'd wonder about the rephrasing thing... sometimes if there's shedloads of posts I'll view the unanswered ones and try to help out on those. If you then post "come on can anyone help" it won't appear on that list. But that's just me, it'll bring to other people's attention!

You know you're a geek when you try to shoo a fly away from the monitor with your cursor.

Tony's picture
Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Timezone: GMT+10
Joined: 2003-03-12
Posts: 5344
Points: 2965

Before posting, please read this.

Hi DJomp,
That's a very valid point, I do the same sometimes.
I also leave the ones that I don't understand so providing more information or rephrasing is meant to help those ones.
If we reply to the post saying we don't understand it wipes them off the unanswered list as well.