Sorry! I'd Like to Help You but I Can't

Published on 2016-03-28 by Stuart Spence

When I post tutorial videos, I get a lot of requests for personalized help. I want to help! Your project might even sound really cool to me. But here I'm going to explain why I probably cannot help you today.

Unfortunately, It's Inefficient

One of the exciting things about the internet is that I can make a video and help tens of thousands of people. Even when I'm sleeping or busy, I feel like my videos are working for me and teaching people.

Unfortunately, responding to one person's personal problem doesn't have this advantage. If I help you, I only help you (generally). I could spend an hour helping just ten people with their personal projects by responding to comments. Or I could use that hour to make a new video that may help ten thousand people - and then maybe another ten thousand people next year.

This is the number one reason why I don't respond to a lot of replies to my videos!

Ambiguous Question

I'd also have to spend a lot of time to understand what your problem even is. Often people ask vague questions. Sometimes I basically have no idea what the problem even is. People may say "I added the thing like in the video but my thing isn't moving like yours". There is no way for me to help, aside from struggling to get you to describe your problem better to me.

How to Ask a Question

There are ways to make it more likely that I'll answer your question, or someone else will.

  • Include lots of information, like the versions of software you're using.
  • Include a link to your project, or a link to your code.
  • Only show us the code that is causing you trouble - delete all the code that is personal and irrelevant to the problem you're having.
  • Prove that you've tried to solve this yourself already, and that you're not just looking to be spoon fed the answer.

Whenever I do answer personal questions, it's because I know exactly what your problem is and I know how to help very quickly.

Comments I Do Respond To

I need your feedback! If there's an error in my video please tell me so I can put up a warning or fix it. If you have a cool idea for a new video, I'd love to hear it. I also prioritize video suggestions when they come from my supporters on Patreon (this is a website where you can donate 1$, or any amount, every time I post a video).

I want to help people learn to think computationally as a full time job. Until I find a salaried position doing this, I need to volunteer my time, and rely on donations to make things happen.

Thanks for reading, and good luck building your dream project :o