People often encourage audience participation by saying "Ask any question. There is no such thing as a dumb question!" Experience, of course, sometimes tells us otherwise. J

But it is true that if one asks the question, they do need an answer. We all have questions that we need answered. We can search for answers or ask friends or trusted colleagues. In the Internet age, there are now online communities of interest where people share information and answer each other’s questions. Some of these online groups are huge, like Others are smaller. A group may consist of an electronic mailing list rather than an Internet site. It may even as informal as saving the last e-mail to "the group" and using Reply All when you want to ask a question or convery information to "the group."

These online communities face challenges. Internet trolls try to disrupt the group. New users pay no attention to the exisiting culture and quickly break either written or unwritten rules. In larger groups, long-term users become frustrated by newbies asking the same questions over and over again. People argue or do veer way off-topic.

My particular frustration is people who ask a question of the group in a detailed e-mail when they could easily find the answer themselves in less time than it takes to type the e-mail. Why not get the answer now? And what if the person who first answers your question is wrong? We don’t want just any answer. We want the right answer. I have concluded that the explanation must be that many people don’t know how to find the answer online. Well, I can help with that! And so, submitted for your approval, is this tutorial, "I Just Need an Answer to a Simple Question."