How to successfully ask for help in the Tableau Forums

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Whenever I’m asked what a key selling point to Tableau is, I obviously mention it’s intuitive ease of use, powerful data visualisation capabilities and how it effortlessly handles large data (even more now with their launch of Hyper!).

But I’m also always sure to mention it’s very vibrant and active community on it’s forums. The amount of passion and talent that sits on those forums is incredible. If your stuck or have a question on Tableau, you’ll find one of 2 things in their forum:

  1. The issue/question has been asked and successfully answered already. Many a time I’ve Googled my question and the top results have linked to a Tableau Forum post
  2. Your question/issue gets resolved in a few days by another super knowledgeable and helpful community member

However, there are some common mistakes people make when asking for help on the forums, which means people spend more time trying to understand your request instead of helping you find a solution. This dramatically increases the chances of you not getting the help you need. So help them help you!

1) Be clear in your request

What data structure are you starting with? What is the end result you want to see? Even a hand drawn mock up will help.

2) Share a dummy Tableau Packaged Workbook (.twbx) file

Create a fictitious data set with the same structure of the original. Chances are you’ll be solving a problem for your job, so you can’t share actual data. But this mock up gives your potential helpers what they need without you sharing data your not supposed to share.

Combine that with a .twbx file to attach to your forum post, showing your attempts to solve the issue.
This gives your helpers something tangible to work with instead of assuming what you want or spending time asking questions to clarify your situation.

3) Show you’ve tried researching and solving the problem yourself

Helpers respect and respond much better if you show you’ve made a good attempt at solving things yourself.
As great as the help is in the Tableau forums, you shouldn’t be lazy and let it do all the work for you. It will also help your helpers know what solutions they could present. If you’ve already tried solution X, they won’t waste everyone’s time sharing that solution with you again and focus their time on other solutions.

Good examples

This post and this post are great examples, as they ticks all 3 of the suggestions above. See how there are good solutions given in around 48 hours of the original posts. Amazing!

I hope these simple best practices when asking questions on the Tableau Forums help you get the answers and solutions you’re after as quickly as possible!

What tips do you have when asking or answering help requests? Let me know in the comments below.

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