Asking Blender Questions: The Right Way

Posted on Nov. 25, 2020, 9:56 a.m. by crute • Last updated on Nov. 26, 2020, 12:14 p.m.

How to ask questions that get answered

You are doing something. Suddenly you run into a problem. You bash your head against it for a while, but you cannot think of a solution. The time has come to present your nagging conundrum to the internet at large. Weirdly enough, no one seems to care. What went wrong?

In general, your question has a higher probability of being answered, and more importantly, answered correctly, if it is easier to understand. There are a few things you can do to make people understand your questions better. Following those will improve your chances of getting answers and help in making you a better-liked member of the community, because you know How to Ask Questions: The Right Way.

Don't ask to ask, just ask.

You find yourself in a chatroom dedicated to asking creation-related questions. No permission to ask required. A "Thank you!" for an answer is always appreciated.

The Three Parts of a good Support Question

What is it you wanted to do?

Describe what result you were expecting.
Avoid the "X for Y"-problem.

What did you do to achieve it?

Describe which steps did you take to do it.

What was the actual outcome?

Describe what is happening instead, the current state of your project, and how that is different from what you were expecting.

Make it easy to read.

Use proper language to communicate. The less your question can be misinterpreted, the higher your chance of getting a correct answer.

Provide the Sources

Gather all information needed for a person who knows nothing about your project to get up to speed with it.

Include model name

Referring to your model as "my model" is not very helpful.
If you downloaded your model from some place, include its name and, if possible, a link to the download page. This is so helpful minds can know what you are using.

Add a file to go with your verbal description

Words will only take you so far. Many times, having a file for people to look at or work with will speed things up immensely. This could be an actual project file, like a .blend or just an image that shows people what you are doing.

Further hints on how to prepare .blend files for posting and how to prepare the perfect screenshot are listed below.

Making a shareable blend file

Getting under the 8MB upload limit

To make the file easier to read and small enough to just drop into discord, it is recommended you isolate the part that has the problem and put it into an empty .blend file.

This can be done by opening a second Blender instance and copy-pasting the selected part in there. Appending works just as well, you will need to know the name of the objects in question to select them, however.

Checking a .blend for Fluff

.blend files are content collector files, as such, they often retain a lot of data that may not be needed when sharing the file. If you need to reduce file size, you can browse through the content by switching the Outliner Panel into Blender File Mode. enter image description here
Blender File Mode will list all data blocks that your file is made up of and give you the chance to remove what is not needed.

Using a free host for sharing

Even with a pruned blend-file, you will occasionally go over the maximum size available for uploading. This is when you should upload it to a file hosting service instead. If you want to stay anonymous, make sure your hosts account does not leak any details about your user name or email.

How to Take an Informative Screenshot

Capturing the Screen

While most operating systems come with their on-board screenshot tools, like WIN + Shift + S on Windows 10 and up and Alt + Shift + 4 on MacOS, ShareX is unrivalled in its versatility. It is also free and open source. enter image description here

Include the important UI parts, so people can read the values

If you cannot figure out what that might be, ask. A good starting point would be the Outliner Panel, so your object hierarchy is visible and the properties panel.

Think about what potential helpers might need to see in your screenshot.

Leave enough context around the object, so a person who has never seen the image before can still tell what it is showing. Always put yourself in the shoes of the people looking at the image when putting it together.

Make sure everything is in view and not overlapping

3-dimensional objects can overlap themselves and obscure parts and readouts that may be important. Avoid that by putting the view at an angle that makes things easy to read Add Markers and Pointers to your image that make it clear what you are talking about