It's my impression that many answers to questions as of late have sounded a bit... well... rancorous
. While there might be a few folks out there genuinely in need of a good roasting, most people just want some help. This may be their first experience with Java; there's no need to make it more painful than it already may be.
Here are some excellent suggestions from ESR's oft-quoted essay, How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
How To Answer Questions in a Helpful Way
Problem-related stress can make people seem rude or stupid even when they're not.
Reply to a first offender off-line.
There is no need of public humiliation for someone who may have made an honest mistake. A real newbie may not know how to search archives or where the FAQ is stored or posted.
If you don't know for sure, say so!
A wrong but authoritative-sounding answer is worse than none at all. Don't point anyone down a wrong path simply because it's fun to sound like an expert. Be humble and honest; set a good example for both the querent and your peers.
If you can't help, don't hinder.
Don't make jokes about procedures that could trash the user's setup — the poor sap might interpret these as instructions.
Ask probing questions to elicit more details.
If you're good at this, the querent will learn something — and so might you. Try to turn the bad question into a good one; remember we were all newbies once.
While just muttering RTFM is sometimes justified when replying to someone who is just a lazy slob, a pointer to documentation (even if it's just a suggestion to google for a key phrase) is better.
If you're going to answer the question at all, give good value.
Don't suggest kludgy workarounds when somebody is using the wrong tool or approach. Suggest good tools. Reframe the question.
Help your community learn from the question.
When you field a good question, ask yourself “How would the relevant documentation or FAQ have to change so that nobody has to answer this again?” Then send a patch to the document maintainer.
If you did research to answer the question, demonstrate your skills rather than writing as though you pulled the answer out of your butt.
Answering one good question is like feeding a hungry person one meal, but teaching them research skills by example is teaching them to grow food for a lifetime.