Haven't seen Chip's etiquette posting recently, so....Chip, hope you don't
Hints And Tips For New Posters In The Excel Newsgroups
Author: Chip Pearson,
Â© Copyright 1997,1998,1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Charles H. Pearson
Last Update: 19-May-2002
The following are suggestions for people who are new to the
newsgroups. These are suggestions and guidelines, not commandments. Use your
best judgment, and play nice. This list is maintained and posted more or less
monthly by Chip Pearson. Thanks to everyone who has made suggestions for the
list (you know who you are!). Send suggestions, comments, and questions (or
even compliments) to firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Always tell us what versions of Excel and
Windows you're using. We
don't want to give you a simple answer that works in XL2000 but won't work in
2 Use an illustrative subject line. Don't put in a subject line like HELP
ME! or EXCEL question. Instead, say something like Trouble With Pivot
Tables In XL97. And remember, saying URGENT doesn't make it any more urgent
to anyone but you.
3 Post in the appropriate group. There are various microsoft.public.excel
groups, for charting, programming, etc. If your message isn't about VBA
programming, don't post to the programming group. Don't post to more than one
group, unless the question really applies to more than one group. The
"regulars" read all the Excel groups, so someone will read your message. It
won't be lost.
4 Don't ask more than one or two unrelated questions in the same post.
Of course, you may need to ask more than one question to address a single
issue. Generally, each post should deal with only one problem.
5 Include example data and formulas in your
post. The more you tell us up
front, the easier it is for us to answer your questions. If your formulas
aren't giving the results you want, include the results you want to get, as
well as the results you're getting. Your post should include at least
some sample data,
the formula you're using now,
the result you're getting now,
an explanation of why your result isn't what you want, and
the result you want to get.
6 Remember, we don't know what you need, or expect, or what your
abbreviations mean. Please include as much detail as you can.
7 If you've already tried using some formulas or
VBA, include what you've
already tried. You may be very close.
8 Be very specific when reporting error messages that you get. Don't
"I get an error when I do this". Tell us the text of the error message.
Exactly what did you do to get the error? Was it generated by Excel, VBA, or
Windows? If it came from VBA, was it a compiler error, or a run-time error.
What line of code caused the error? Be specific. Details count.
9 Don't attach a workbook to your message.
Click here for the reasons.
10 If you're following up to a previous post, you don't need to include
everything. Snip out what's not relevant. But do include what is relevant.
Some people may have missed the original post. (See #11 below)
11 When posting a follow-up to a post, put your
new text at the top of
the message, above the cited text of previous messages. (See #10 above).
This makes it much easier to others to read the responses to a message that
has been posted.
12 Please post messages in "plain-text" format, without formatting. No
HTML. Generally speaking, we don't want to see the cool new stationery or
GIFs you've found.
13 Please don't email your questions directly to us. There are
(hopefully) many people on these newsgroups that will have the answer to your
question and you might be helping others who are having the same problem. If
you post to the group, you'll likely have an answer within a few hours
(sometimes even within a few minutes!).
14 Please don't ask us to email you directly because you can't get
to the newsgroup to check. Some of us email all their responses to the
original posters, but generally you will find that we don't have the time to
email and post the answer. As one frequent contributor wrote, "Read it where
you post it."
16 We are not here to do your work (or your homework) for you. Before
posting a question or request for help, make sure you put in
time and effort yourself.
17 RTFM. That's what F1 is for. First try to find your answer in online
help (press F1 and go from there). Next try Microsoft online support and
Knowledge Base: http://support.microsoft.com If you are still stuck post
18 Check the archives at Google (http://groups.google.com) before asking
a question. It may have been answered last week. Google archives every
newsgroup post ever made, so if it was asked here, you can find it there. If
you don't find it there, post away!
19 Take a look at the Comp.Apps.Spreadsheets FAQ
20 Try it out. Before posting a question asking "Will this
work?" or "Can
I do this in Excel?", try it out for yourself. You might be smarter than you
21 "I posted a question an hour ago, but didn't get any responses. Should
I post it again?" No. It can take anywhere from a minute to a day for your
post to actually show up on the server. Then, someone has to read it and
come up with an answer. Give it a few days before thinking about resubmitting
22 "I posted a question last week, but didn't get any responses. Should I
post it again?" Well, maybe, maybe not. The regular responders to the
groups probably read your question, but had no idea what you were talking
about. If you didn't get any responses to a question, rewrite your question,
and include (more/better) sample data and formulas. Also, check Google to
make sure that the message actually did get posted.
23 "I posted a question, and no one emailed me an
answer. Should I post
again?" No. You should not expect to get an email reply to your
question. Replies will show up in the newsgroup, not your email.
24 Be polite. Rudeness has never been a
problem around here, and let's
keep it that way.
25 This is not the "I hate Microsoft" group. There are other newsgroups
26 The MS support and development people don't read these newsgroups (or
they do so covertly). This is not the forum in which to
complain about features that aren't available, or
suggest new ones.
The "regulars" here aren't MS employees, and we don't have Bill Gates'
secret email address. This is public, peer-to-peer support.
27 When declaring variables in VBA, use explicit
explicit types. Sometimes errors arise from an improperly declared
variable in VBA. For example, use
Dim W As Workbook rather than
Dim W or
Dim W As Object
28 When including dates in example data, try to use a dd-mmm-yyyy format.
This will prevent confusion among international date styles.
For example, 09/02/98 means 2-Sept-98 to USAn users, but it means
9-Feb-98 to many (most?) European users. Using 2-Sept-98 leaves no
room for misunderstanding. If you're dealing with dates after 1999, use the
full 4 digit year.
29 Be careful using characters like "!" in the subject line of a post.
Some folks automatically filter out messages based on the subject line. A
subject like "Help Me !!!!" can be easily confused with a line like "Make
30 Where do I get more on-line help? There are a number of very good
Excel sites on the Web. In my humble opinion, the best are:
John Walkenbach's http://www.j-walk.com/ss
Stephen Bullen's: http://www.oaltd.co.uk
Baarns Group (archive site): http://archive.baarns.com
Rob Bovey's AppsPro http://www.appspro.com
Frank Isaacs': http://www.vbapro.com
My own: http://www.cpearson.com
John Walkenbach's site has a very comprehensive list of links, so
you can find many other sites from there.
31 Learn to use the VBA debugger. Learn how to set breakpoints and
examine the contents of variables. This skill can save you many, many
hours of frustration.
32 For best results, connect directly to the Microsoft news server:
msnews.microsoft.com . If you connect through your local ISP's news server,
your message may be dropped or may take a few days to show up on the MS
server. In your newsreader (e.g., Agent or Outlook Express), find the
"Tools" or "Options" menu, choose "Accounts" or something similar, and add a
new news account, pointing to msnews.microsoft.com .
33 Google and CNET Customers and other "web portal
Please remember that your questions are not answered by Google or CNET
users. Neither of these services provides any answers whatsoever. These
services simply forward your question to the public newsgroups, where other
people, wholly unconnected with Google or CNET answer your questions. All
Google and CNET really do is allow you to see advertising while you look for
answers written by others. Google and CNET do not provide any answers
themselves. The only thing they do is pass the questions on to us, and
splatter advertising across your screen. If this appeals to you, then that's
just wonderful. Just remember, when you ask a question on CNET or Google,
neither of these advertising services are giving you the answer.
34 Please use you're real name in your
messages. And include your real
name in the body of your message. A nickname like "Kewl Guy" might seem cool
on AOL or CNet, but in the newsgroups, we're friendly and informal. Use
your real name.
35 Don't email me telling me that plural of "formula" is "formulae", not
"formulas". I already know this.
And Last But Not Least....
If we have helped you save some
time, some hair pulling, some frustration,
or whatever... a quick "thank you" is always appreciated, either through
the newsgroup or directly by email. Remember that none of us are getting
paid to do this. We don't work for Microsoft; we do this to help the Excel
community and to help others grow (and to grow ourselves).
Â© Copyright 1997,1998,1999, 2000 by Charles H.
This document may be freely distributed in any form, as long as it remains
intact and unchanged, and is attributed to its source: Chip Pearson,