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How can I get faster responses to my questions and unblock myself?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer [E4] at Meta2 years ago
  • I've been reaching out to people via DMs and public workplace posts, comments on threads/tasks/diffs, sometimes email.
  • Sometimes it takes 1 week to get a response or I just never get one, despite multiple follow-ups.

Unfortunately at a big company like Meta a lot of the stack is proprietary and are essentially black boxes, so I can't just search public documentation or use StackOverflow. Sometimes the documentation/wikis are outdated, so when the team maintaining it is unresponsive I have a hard time gaining traction with my projects. Ideally I'd try to go into the codebase to figure it out myself but it's hard to familiarize myself with another repo quickly especially if it requires special setup to get things running.

I also have a sample Workplace post that shows how I'm asking questions and looking for help: [REDACTED TO PRESERVE COMPANY CONFIDENTIALITY]

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 1
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • The main tools are Work Chat and Workplace posts. Comments on threads/diffs can easily be missed, and Meta is not an email company when it comes to SWEs.
    • Figure out the "drop dead" time for you to get a response to your question/problem and work backwards from there. The closer you are to the deadline, the more aggressively you ask for help (e.g. pinging them every 2 hours in Work Chat instead of every day). Don't be afraid to ramp up the heat when you're running out of time - The alternative is just being blocked way too long and missing crucial goals.
    • Leverage your manager, especially for urgent, important things like a SEV or a critical component of a high-pri team project. They obviously have an incentive to make sure your velocity is high and you are never blocked for too long. Your manager asking a person to help you will make it much more likely for that person to help you.
    • In general, give a heads up to your manager about issues like these where you really need outside support to get unblocked. The good managers will check up on you here, which they can't do if you just silently try to bear all these burdens yourself.
  • 0
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago

    Here's my thoughts on the Workplace post you shared:

    • Meta is all about incentives. Every question/ask for help in Meta should describe why solving this problem is important (i.e. "What's the impact if you unblock me here?"). If you don't describe the impact of the task/project behind your ask, you're not likely to get a response as the incentive to help you is unclear and I don't see this in your post.
    • Attach what you've done already to debug the problem as well. This shows that you're hard-working and more deserving of help. This makes your question more appealing to answer as people are more likely to perceive it as a "fill in the remaining 5 to 10% gap" type situation.
    • In general, overall structure of an ask:
      • Why I'm doing the thing behind this problem (i.e. why my team and the company care about the underlying project/task)
      • What the problem is
      • What you've already tried to solve the problem
Meta Platforms, Inc. is an American multinational technology conglomerate based in Menlo Park, California. The company owns 3 of top 4 social networks in the world: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. More than 3.5 billion people use at least one of the company's core products every month.
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