You have questions about Firebase, and the Firebase community has answers!
But do you know the best place to get your questions answered?
It can be kind of overwhelming to figure out which destination is the best for your particular question. What I’d like to explore today are your options, and how to choose the best one. Choosing the best (and knowing how best to ask) could give you a huge advantage in getting the answers you need. There are five leading options, each with a different purpose. Let’s explore those options!
It might seems silly to say, but I think your question should start with a Google search. A well-constructed search could surface existing answers in some of the forums I’ll discuss next. You can’t pass up the chance of getting your question answered immediately because someone else asked it first!
Try entering your question directly into the search box. Or, if you have an error message in your code, try copying it in there. For exact error messages, sometimes it’s helpful to put your search string in quotes to force the most relevant matches to the top of the results.
Bear in mind that not every search yields good results. In some cases, you might stumble across something so rare that only one other person has ever seen it!
That time I searched for “ERROR: Walrus not found: have you checked the polar ice caps?”
If a search doesn’t give what you’re looking for, it’s time to choose from some other options.
But before we continue - if you end up deciding that your question is appropriate for multiple forums, be sure to state that you’ve cross-posted your question. That gives everyone a chance to figure out which forum may be the best options, and if the question has already been answered elsewhere. That saves everyone time.
Stack Overflow is great for programming questions. In fact, that’s the only kind of question you’re supposed to ask there. Many Firebase team members pay attention there, including members of the greater community. There are a few tips to making the best of your question on SO:
- If you’re working with code, post the code.
- If you’re seeing an error, post the entire error.
- For code, provide a minimal, complete, and verifiable example (or MCVE). Anything else increases the risk of being ignored.
- Learn how to ask a good question. Don’t skip reading this! A well-formulated question has a much greater chance of being answered quickly.
- Also learn how to format your code and question using the provided editor, so it’s easy to read.
- Tag your question with firebase, and any other other tags for languages and specific Firebase products.
Not all questions are good for Stack Overflow. In particular, your question may be closed by the community if it’s any of the following:
- It’s seeking recommendations (for off-site products and examples).
- It’s seeking opinions (e.g. “which is better, X or Y?“)
- It’s too broad, unclear, or doesn’t explain the expected behavior of the code.
- It’s asking for code to be written, without making a good attempt.
- It isn’t a programming question.
- It’s a bug report or feature request (see Firebase support below).
If your question is closed by the community, it will almost certainly not be answered. But don’t worry: for questions about Firebase that don’t follow the Stack Overflow requirements, there are other options!
Quora is great for general questions, especially those seeking recommendations and opinions. There doesn’t have to be a “correct” answer to a question on Quora. It’s OK to ask broad questions.
If you choose Quora, be sure to tag your question with the Firebase topic so it’s more likely to get noticed by people who have experience with Firebase.
firebase-talk Google group
firebase-talk is a long-standing mailing list for people who are looking for open-ended discussion about all things Firebase. It’s great for open-ended discussions that require a lot of text that goes back and forth between group members. Many Firebase team members scan the messages here.
When you post your first message here, be prepared to wait for some time for a moderator to accept it.
The Firebase Slack
The Firebase Slack is where Firebase enthusiasts gather to talk about, well, Firebase! This is good for general chit-chat and gathering opinions. While some Firebase team members check in from time to time, it’s not an official support channel. So if you have a question that better fits Stack Overflow or Quora, I think it’s better to ask there first.
One notable exception is the Firebase Test Lab team who use the #test-lab channel for direct support.
Here’s a couple tips for using the Firebase Slack effectively:
- Before you say anything, be sure to search the list of channels. There is likely a channel that’s directly relevant to your interests (such as #functions and #firestore).
- Following #1, avoid asking your question too quickly in the #general channel. It’ll likely get lost among all the other chit-chat happening there and scroll away before people see it. Try to choose a better channel first.
- Even though it’s a realtime chat, don’t expect an immediate response. A lot of us are busy at work and don’t have time to respond quickly to messages.
This is a good place to ask for urgent issues such as problems with your production app. It’s also good for troubleshooting if you require some back and forth with a real person with a problem that can be reproduced in code. You can expect a response from support within 24 hours of asking your question.
Firebase support also handles bug reports and feature requests. So if you have one of those, please fill out the form in that link.
Where not to ask
If you want a timely response, I would avoid the following destinations for general questions:
- Twitter (because there’s often not enough space for good replies)
- Firebase YouTube videos (when not directly related to the video’s content)
The other reason I would avoid these is because they have limited visibility to the world, whereas the destinations above are well known by the Firebase community. You probably want your question to reach the maximum number of people as possible, in order to get answered quickly.
However, we do encourage you to use Twitter and other social media to broadcast the questions you ask on other sites. For example, it’s good to ask a question on Stack Overflow or Quora, then tweet the URL of the question with the hashtag #AskFirebase. Your questions may get picked up for use on the Firebase channel on YouTube.
The Firebase community loves to help with Firebase! And it’s easier to get help if you follow the guidelines here to make sure your questions reach the correct audience.
Now watch this video with Kato Richardson, who loves our Firebase community!