Asking Questions Using BLUF

Last Update: July 21, 2020

More so while using Live Chat but I have also seen this numerous times throughout questions asked during training and in the classrooms, members are not providing context or they are just gauging an interest.

A good example of this from a Live Chat is:


3:36 PM Hi, can you help me?

3:39 PM I have a question.

3:41 PM Anyone able to help me?


Asking simple questions like the ones above just to gauge whether someone is available might not seem like it takes a lot of time but it can add up to dozens, if not 100s of these per day. Every time a message like this pops up it takes other members attention away from focused work leading to sloppy communication which becomes a huge waste of time for everyone.

There are hundreds of other members online at any given point in time, and these members will more than likely not respond to your question as they do not know if they are able to help you or not.

What we can do though when asking questions is to jump straight to the point using the BLUF method which is a military communication standard.


BLUF is an acronym used by the military – it stands for “Bottom Line Up Front” – and is a communication standard designed to enforce speed and clarity.


BLUF is a very simple method whereby it puts the most important details that you don't want anyone to miss first. I.e. Don’t tease or wait before revealing your main point because members are busy and their time is valuable.

You should also always provide context. The BLUF communication standard reduces the amount of mental energy the other members have to use to understand your message and are therefore able to help you much better and quicker.

A slightly better approach could be:


Hey, quick question do you know if fitness is too broad as a niche?


While this isn’t a huge waste of time like the first example, it still lacks important context that is essential to allow the other members to fully help you.

A much better way to ask the question using the BLUF method could be as follows:


Hey, quick question. Do you know if fitness is too broad as a niche? I will be educating people on proper form when doing exercises and preventing injuries, along with recommending exercise equipment and also equipment to help with recovery.


You will see above that the context is important but it still doesn’t come first.

When the context comes before the “bottom line” (hence the name Bottom Line Up Front) the other members won’t understand why the context is even important to them. But once they know what you need, they’ll care about why you need it so that they can tailor their response to what it is that you need something for, as well as provide anything else that may be of use to you instead of providing something that may not be a good fit for what it is that you’re looking for.

By having the bottom line up front also allows the right member to answer your question, as we have many experts here at Wealthy Affiliate all with their own unique skills and knowledge.

Another good example using the BLUF method could be:


Hey, quick question. Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress, and can anyone recommend any good training or any plugins I need? I would like to create a members only social network style website in WordPress?


The context added to the question above would direct the appropriate member who knows about membership websites to respond along the lines of using the BuddyPress plugin with any appropriate links to training.

However, if the question had the following context:


Hey, quick question. Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress, and can anyone recommend any good training or any plugins I need? I would like to provide my members with hidden/paid for content that only they can view?


The above context would direct the responding member to respond with using a plugin such as MemberPress.

There could also be a third context to the same question such as:


Hey, quick question. Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress, and can anyone recommend any good training or any plugins I need? I would like to provide my members with structured training courses that can also be drip fed to them over a period of time?


Based on this context the responding member would more than likely suggest a plugin such as LearnDash which is an LMS (Learning Management System) plugin.

You can clearly see in the three examples above that the same question (Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress?) could result in at least 4 different responses. The 1st being a simple "Yes", whereas the other 3, as they provide context, will guide you to the most appropriate solution for your needs. BuddyPress, MemberPress and LearnDash are all membership plugins, however, they all provide different and unique features based upon your requirements that can only be achieved by understanding the context of what the intended use will be.


NOTE:
If any of the questions here relate to yourself as being asked recently, my responses are not directed towards you and are generalised for all members.


I hope this helps you with asking questions so that you may get the best and most appropriate responses in a timely manner. Just remember BLUF when you ask your next question :-)

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KSchoenbaum Premium
Chrystopher:

I am a premium member and have not been on Wealthy Affiliate for some time due to family emergencies. The platform for home page has changed. I am still doing my training and I am stuck on
Creating Your Initial Website Content (About Me page). The lesson shows the old platform and instructs us to use Site Content. However I can not find it. I have signed out and back in and it always brings me to my Dashboard, but no where is there any button that shows Site Content. I am not sure where to go from here or if the issue has changed due to the new look of the platform.

I ran across your email, thank you so much, because I want to get going on this lesson as I am way behind. If you could let me know where I can find Site Content and finish my "About Me Page", I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.
Kathy Schoenbaum
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ChrystopherJ Premium
Hey Kathy,

It looks as though you have a small screen or a minimised browser open, as you should see some menu links across the top.

You can either maximise your screen, or view it on a larger monitor, or click the three horizontal lines (hamburger icon) top-left to open the menu.

With the menu, you want to click on Websites, and then SiteContent.

Hope this helps

Regards,
Chrystopher
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HelenGilfil1 Premium
Hi Chrystopher,

I sure appreciate the well-detailed information you provided.
I wanted to post a blog, but wasn't sure about how to get started and what 'title' I should use.
I also wanted a little more information about creating a membership website using WordPress, and additional information about any plugins that I need. However, I am still going through the training session (didn't get to do much on the weekend) but will pick up my speed again.
Thanks again.

Helen
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ChrystopherJ Premium
No worries Helen, I'd focus on the training before entering the Membership side of things. At least you know there are options based on this post alone :-)
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Hi, I just want to ask this question. I'm confused about domain name extensions. If I buy a domain what does a month means? Does it mean I get to enjoy a month of no extension name for my website and after a month the extension name will return again?
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ChrystopherJ Premium
Are you referring to domain name extensions as in the TLD (.com, .org, .net, etc) or the Expiry date of 1 years, 2 years etc?

Month doesn't make sense in relation to domain names, so I am not sure what you are referring to.
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GeoffreyC1 Premium
When you buy a domain it is for a year
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PLandry Premium
Hi, If you buy for example a .com extension, it is for a year. Each year, at the date you buy it (and if you put your domain on Auto Renew) then you will pay for another year and so on. You will keep the domain name and extension until you decide to renew or not.

Hopes it helps you ;)
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Suzay Premium
That was a great teaching that I will clearly remember when asking for help. When starting the read, I figured BLUF must be an acronym. I got much more great information than I could have imagined.
That was a fabulous post Chrystopher, and will greatly help both sides, questioner and responding person. 2 birds, one very guided stone.

Thank you so very much, Chrystopher. I wanted to see through the veil, and that did it very clearly.

Suzay
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ChrystopherJ Premium
You're welcome Suzay and I appreciate your reply, thank you :-)
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Dhind1 Premium
Thanks, Christopher. This is an interesting take on the word bluff as a pared down acronym.
By stating our questions in a BLUF manner it will be difficult for anyone to bluff their way through the answer.
One of the things I have found here (I am guilty of it myself) is the willingness of members to jump in with an answer to a question that is incomplete, probably because the question was not fully outlined in the manner that you state.

Often the complete answer is found in the string of comments from members to any question as members explore the possible answers and responses.

Clarifying up front will certainly streamline the process.

Thanks,

Alex
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ChrystopherJ Premium
That's very true Alex, I have seen that numerous times as well, and you're welcome :-)
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