8

I am an absolute beginner when it comes to handy stuff, having never really had much exposure to that kind of thing growing up, or anybody around to pick things up off since I became an adult.

I'm completely overwhelmed with what I've found from internet searches as I don't really know where to start. I notice that the questions/answers on the site are a bit above where I'd be in terms of skill, so I just wanted to check whether it was OK for someone like me to ask questions below that level.

I would honestly be asking complete potato-head questions to start with, like "how do I cut a plywood sheet into two even pieces" (really. I don't know) and I was wondering if they would be appropriate.

Having spent an awful lot of time on SO over the years, I can appreciate the community here not wanting a crapflood of questions like the age-old "How do I parse HTML with a regex" one programming newbies seem to ask a variant of every five minutes over there.

I guess I just wanted to know where the community would draw the line on how "stupid" questions can be - in my present state of complete uselessness, that's the best I could manage.

Also, someone at my level would be unable to give much back by way of answers.

10

Go for it. Nobody was born knowing about DIY, so please ask your questions if you can't find the information and it will help get you started on the road to learning DIY by actually doing.

Just because a question is basic doesn't mean it can't be a good question. Some tips (from my POV):

  • explain your skill level to give the question some context.
  • say exactly what you want to accomplish. Someone with more experience in that field may have suggestions on how to do things differently, like the accepted answer to this question.
  • give an idea of the resources you have available: what tools or supplies you already own, or your ability to get them if needed.
    (A good way to cut your sheet of plywood is to run it through a table saw, but telling you that isn't going to help you if you can't afford one or don't have the space for one or will never need one after that one sheet of plywood).
    If you don't have any tools, say that too: you'll likely get a list of possible tools you could use with the pros and cons of each called out.

A good example of someone using this site to learn what he needed -- both before buying a house and in the initial fixing-up after moving in -- was Mike B. If you look through his questions, you'll see several instances where he asked a basic question before starting a task, then followed up with more detailed questions once he got going.

8

I think it's OK so long as you've had a look at this chart:

(The TL;DR version is, I'd only ask if your initial internet searches produced no, poor, or not useful results.)

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/02/are-some-questions-too-simple/

  • I get the feeling that this means I shouldn't ask. I doubt very much that the questions I would be asking initially could be considered 'interesting'. – Shabbyrobe May 31 '11 at 0:39
  • 4
    Have to disagree with this. On a site like StackOverflow, where a lot of beginner questions have already been asked this model might fit. On a young site like DIY, these questions still need to be asked. If we want the site to be the end-all-be-all in home improvement, we need to provide information for all skill levels from the guy who never picked up a hammer to the one who swung one his whole life. – Tester101 Jun 2 '11 at 12:13
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    @tester a lot of information on the internet is so bad that check #2 is the saving throw. It's trivial to do better here than so many of the awful pages on the internet. – Jeff Atwood Jun 2 '11 at 23:28
  • @shabby see my comment above – Jeff Atwood Jun 2 '11 at 23:28

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