Thursday, September 15, 2022

How to ask questions

This is a follow-up to my post on how to answer questions. The audience for that post was people doing in something in production that others have a strong opinion about. The audience for this post is people with strong opinions about what others are doing in production.

One of these is a great way to start a discussion:

  • You are doing X, you should be doing Y.
    • This is isn't even a question and it isn't a productive way to start a discussion. With respect to supporting a social graph OLTP workload I have been told on separate occasions that I should be using an in-memory DBMS, an OLAP DBMS, a graph DBMS and a NoSQL DBMS (ScyllaDB). In two of those cases the people offering that advice were quite famous. Alas, nobody offering that advice followed up and submitted a PR for Linkbench to show the benefits of such a change.
  • Why are you doing X!
    • Still not a question. Still not a great way to start a discussion.
  • Why are you doing X?
    • We have a winner. I still remember being quizzed by Peter Bailis, while at HPTS, about the social graph OLTP workload I supported. I did my best to answer his questions. It was a great discussion and I was impressed by his curiousity.

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