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Chemical Process Technology

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Chemical & Process Technology

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I have been participating discussion in some major Chemical and Process Engineering forums. There are many Chemical Engineering related topics being discussed in these forums. The discussed topics covers unit operation, thermodynamic, material, Process safety, etc. Personally, i have learned a lot of practical experience, new technology, common mistake to be avoided, etc in these forums. Practising engineer in Chemical & Process, Oil & Gas, Petrochemical, Refinery, and other related field, regardless you are in design & engineering, Operation & maintenance and research & development, you are always encourage to participate in these forums.

Low quality question and its impact
Based on my past experience in forum, i have noticed many professional engineers and students posted a lot of questions in these forum. Recently i found that many question are non-forum related, asking question without providing basic background information, some with very good background information but no clear problem statement, etc and this ended up many Professional engineers either raise question on question or ignore them. This really resulted major impact to both Professional engineers and young engineers (newbies). Professional engineers will start to lose their interest in answering those "low quality question" as they ignore most of the question. Soon they will lose their interest logging into the forum. Similarly those young engineers (newbies) posted a lot of question (low quality question) did not get any responses and answers from any Professional engineers or criticism from Professional engineers on the quality of question, soon they also lose their interest in the forum. Consequently less and less people in the forum and possibly close down of forum.

What you needs to do in order to raise a high quality question (post) ?
There are few elements shall form a high quality post :

i) Clear Topic / Subject
Generally a post will have it main topic and subject description. The topic shall consist of keyword of the post content. For example a post ask about the methodology in estimating slug size for slug catcher design, a good topic may be "Slugcatcher design" and subject description may be "How to estimate slug size ?". Any people read the topic and subject, he/she will have a simple and broad idea what the post would be and related to. Those professional engineers who are expert in same field will open the post, review and provide necessary response. You may imagine if someone post a question with topic and subject such as "Help me Please !", "Need your help", etc. These type of topic / subject will not generate any interest of professional. They will spent their time to open these kind of question one after another as they though it is not related to their field.

A good topic and subject will ease for search and references by any engineers / students in the future. It is also ease the originator and responder locate them in the future.

ii) Simple introduction
A good post shall contain a good and simple introduction. The intention is to describe the background information of the topic and subject so that reader understand the background. It may contains :

- Brief description of your system, operation, etc
- References, drawings, sketches, etc to further enhance understanding.

You are also encourage to submit an editable file such as EXCEL spreadsheet, WORD document, etc so that the responder can provides input into the editable file and resubmit it. This helps to keep track of the history, discussion, knowledge, etc.

One must remember, this introduction shall be BRIEF & SIMPLE. Professional engineers are fact finder and tends to ignore long story.

iii) Simple content & situation
Next would be providing a simple content and situation. You must provide simple situation description of problem you encountered, how it happen, what's your experiences, etc in order to inform your potential responder the situation and problem. This is the place where you must clear define your problem.

Apart you must provides required basic parameters related to your question. All information related to your system, situation, problem, etc should be presented here. Your potential responder request these information to understand those information used and they can base on this information to do some calculation, estimation, search, fact findings, etc and to work out the responses.

You shall only provide sufficient information (required information only but not those non-related / required information) to avoid potential responder tired of figuring which information to use.

Again these information should be SIMPLE and SUFFICIENT.

iv) Ask specific question
Now come to the main part of your post. You have to ask clear question. I have noticed many posts come with good introduction and problem, however, no question being raised. The responder will scratch the head as they do not know what he/she shall respond to.

The question shall
- shall raise specific question related to your topic
- shall provide your own though in the question, how you will approach the problem (if you know), etc
- shall not ask something non related to your topic / subject / content / background

One of the major elements you shall present here is you shall be able to demonstrate to your potential responder that you have done some background works and you have come to no answer, no conclusion, no confident on your findings, etc. Professional engineers always like to see people have done their homework before they raise the question. Remember, your potential responder (professional engineers) are mostly (99%) are on voluntary basis. They are not paid to answer question in the forum. They have no obligation to do your homework.

v) Spell and Grammar check
After you have completed your post, before post it, you shall conduct spell and grammar check. This is a non-technical related but essential. May professional engineers will feel uneasy and tends to stop reading on the post once they found the post contain too much spelling and grammar mistake. Mis-spell words and wrong grammar may lead to misunderstanding of the original content.

v) Forum guideline
Last but not least, you shall read the Forum guideline before any posting. Some forum have very straight policies. Any violation regardless of whether you have done it without knowing it or careless, you may be permanently banned from the forum.

With above simple guidelines, wish you will benefits from the post and raise a clear and high quality question in the forum.

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posted by Webworm, 8:44 AM


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