markdown guide

I frequently receive cold emails for some advice. I love helping people but its only possible to do so if -

  • The ask is highly specific - The help needs to be very specific request. Which means no "meeting for coffee", no "general discussion", no "pick your brains about an idea i have", nothing vague.

  • The ask has high context - The context has to be explained upfront and has to be specific too. What is right for person X is not right for person Y. So the answer to most questions is always in the territory of "it depends on the situation". Describe your situation and the answer becomes useful for you.

  • The ask has high relevance - Do your research on the person before sending an email. Don't ask a software engineer about hardware problems. Don't ask a highly technical person management questions and vice versa. The question needs to be relevant to the experience of the person who is asked the question.

Examples -

  • A good ask - “I know you have built analytics systems before. I am currently building one for my project which needs to ingest 10 GB / day and in 6 months scale to 1 TB / day. We are currently using Azure and are open to using tools from Java and Python. How do I design it so that it scales well?"

  • A bad ask - "I loved your post about X. Can we connect to discuss more of it?"

  • A good ask - "I am currently struggling with React JS and building apps in which use redux. Can you help me understand it? I will need 45 mins of active discussion to give you context."

  • A bad ask - "I need help on what to do with my career."

  • A good ask - "I am not sure what I want to do next. I am a fresh graduate with no professional experience and I am currently thinking AI/ML vs Blockchain. Money is tight and I really need to figure this out in a month or so."


The way you have written this question is fine. People are complex and you cannot generalize how people would respond to queries.

I look if the person seeking my help is genuine. Let's say it's a technical help I would see if the person has tried to do some research before approaching. I do not like to help people who refuse to read the first link on Google that answer's their question.

While it is true that everyone has to start somewhere and noob questions are not stupid, but the person who seeks help must also be willing to take effort to earn it.

Example: Are you a person who dumps a stack trace and expects someone to help or are you a person who atleast takes time to frame the question with relevant explaination.

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happy dev.