#googledev

Tips for Approaching Google Developer Advocates with Questions
Google Developer Advocates - and others on Google Developer Relations - are great resources for developers working with Google developer platforms. There are ways to work with them so that you get the most out of the interaction.

Do your research first
It may sound obvious, but a large percentage of the questions we get could be answered by either looking directly at the documentation on http://developer.google.com or http://code.google.com. Or by Googling it. Not that we aren’t happy to point you to the docs, but if you have an email address or a find them on a social networking site, there’s a time delay before you get an answer. You may find the answer to your question easily in the meantime.

Help forums
Most developer products have communities where you can get answers. That could be a Google forum or it could be on StackOverflow. Check to see if there is one. If there is, ask your question there first if possible. Chances are your question isn’t unique, and either it has been asked before or the answer that you get could benefit others. You may think that it is quicker to ask a Googler directly, but in fact these forums often get answered more quickly than just shooting people an email. That’s because there’s a large number of other experts out there who can help, both Googlers and non-Googlers.

Be able to show code
We can’t really answer questions like “My map doesn’t seem to be working, what’s wrong?” without context. Even just seeing the function that you think is the problem isn’t usually enough for us. If I’m looking at a maps site for instance, often the problem is that a variable referenced in a function isn’t declared globally, which we have no way to know if you’re just sending your addMarker function.

Show us that you did your homework
If you do contact a Googler directly, be able to show that you did these things. You’re likely to get more attention if you can say “I tried this like it says in the docs, but that didn’t work because...” rather than “How do I make a Marker?” Send a link to the post you made in the help forum. That way we can make sure it gets answered and others benefit from the answer. Send us a link to your code, or post it in JSFiddle or something so that we can see your code.

Make it clear who you’ve contacted
If you ask a question of a Googler, and don’t get the answer you want, don’t go to another Googler and ask the same question as if you haven’t contacted anyone before. If you do contact someone else, tell them who else you’ve talked to. For more complex questions, it can be helpful if the first person can brief the second on the status of a situation. Nothing bugs me more than doing a bunch of work on a question, figuring out if something is allowed, or helping someone else, to learn that someone else has already done the work. We talk to each other.

Don’t use the wrong contact
Many of us are on multiple social networks, and have prefered ways to connect with people externally. Some of us use different networks for different purposes and prefer to keep some social networks for personal use. Some people on Developer Relations only work with developers through the official forums. And some messaging systems, for instance, aren’t useful for coding questions. Twitter, for instance, is a great platform, but 140 characters in a direct message doesn’t give you much room for coding examples or even really long URLs. Above all, if a Googler asks you to switch to a different communication method to ask questions, please do. I was wrong in the last section, this bugs me more than anything, when someone doesn’t respect my request to to contact me in a different way.

Bottom Line
These tips are just some of the ways that can help you approach Google Developer Relations team members, and actually probably any API provider you work with. The bottom line is that we are here and ready to help out, and with a little bit more effort you can make the process go a lot faster and smoother for all involved.
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