I post this in hopes that it will help newbies both to aquaria and to forums to get better and faster help. This post is part rant/part intruction manual. Asking questions First, the title: Try to make your title as descriptive as possible. It's your first point of contact with those who will read and hopefully help you out, so it should be clear what you're seeking. A vague title might not necessarily drive off someone who knows the answer, but a good, clear title will let someone know right away what you're looking for. There are 20 or so threads on each page, not everyone will read through all of them, nor do they necessarily have time, so be clear about what you need and someone who knows something about it will have a look. For example, let's say your pH is crashing and your water is cloudy because it's a new tank and you just threw in a load of fish. Good title: Help! pH crashing, cloudy water. Bad title: Help! Bad water! Second, Post structure and content: It's tough to know what to include and what to leave out. But use paragraphs effectively to make your posts easier to read. Include any parameters that seem relevant, or all if you don't know what's relevant, in the initial post. These could include: tank volume, number and types of occupants, feeding regimen any water tests you've done and if they differ from normal test results, say how. It can also be useful to say whether the tank is planted and if/what you fertillize. You can't post too many details, and as long as you separate them into paragraphs then the reader can easily skip the unimportant ones. Use specific numbers, be precise. Vague words and generalizations such as "fine", "happy", "okay" will not get you the help you seek. You test so that you know what's happening in the tank, how can we help if we don't have the same information? Third, Grammar and Spelling: The odd typo is bound to happen, and there are certainly children on these forums who have yet to learn the the intricacies of writing (I'm still learning). However, put the effort into making your post as clear and well written as you can. If your post is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, it will be difficult to read and your question may not be evident. Furthermore, speaking personally, responders are often less likely to spend the time writing a well thought out and put together response if you didn't do the same for them in the writing of your post. Another thing to keep in mind, this is a forum, not a chat room. That means that full sentences and full words will give you the best results. The most knowledgeable folks are not necessarily ones that spend time in chat rooms. If I don't understand (or have to work to understand) your post, I'm not going to answer, or my answer will not be the one you're seeking (see above paragraph). If you didn't get the answer that you were looking for, 99% of the time it's your fault for not asking the right question. Remember that and don't be shy of trying again, asking the right question is not as simple as it sounds. Most of the more experienced forum folks know that (intuitively if not explicitly) and are very patient in that regard. Fourth, Jargon: Much like everything else, the aquarium hobby has its own jargon to learn. If you want to understand computers, you learn terms like RAM, CPU, processing speed, etc. If you want to have a meaningful conversation with your mechanic, you'd better know what a spark plug and CV boot are. The same goes for aquaria, so don't get all bent out of shape when someone uses a term like "ammonia titer", UGF, or "gph". Feel free to ask an explanation of the term, but don't flame the person for not "answering in english". It's your responsibility to learn the language if you want to get answers. Most folks here are more than happy to explain the terms to you if you ask politely, but you'll pretty much get the same as I just typed - in a more curt manner - if you fly off the cuff at a poster. Answering questions Much of the same here minus the title. Spelling, grammar, and paragraph structure are all key to writing a good response. The only thing that I'd add is that if you don't know the answer, don't post an answer. If you think that you know something, but you're not certain, state as much. If I answer a question, but am uncertain of my answer, I say so, I am trying to be helpful by offering guidance, but I won't mislead the knowledge seeker into thinking that I am an expert in the field. In this manner my uncertain post is not given the same weight as a post by someone who does know the answer. Similarly, it assures that when I do know something for certain a history of wrong posts will not besmirch my reputation. Of course, only post an uncertain answer if a better one hasn't already been posted. In the end, it all comes down to time. Most people don't spend their whole day on the forum. Some of us only pop in when avoiding proofreading our Thesis. In other words, make the most of your post by making it polite, readable, and clear and you will get the answer that you seek.