How to Get Help From a Google Developer Advocate

Adam DuVander
Feb. 10 2012, 01:00PM EST

No other company has more APIs listed in our directory than Google's 96 APIs. The company also employs multiple people for each of those APIs to assist developers. Mano Marks is one of those "developer advocates," as the search giants calls them. Marks has focused on the Google Maps API and other geo technologies since 2006. In a recent Google Plus post, Marks shares his tips for approaching him and his colleagues.

Here are Marks' six main points:

  • Do your research first
  • Help forums
  • Be able to show code
  • Show us that you did your homework
  • Make it clear who you’ve contacted
  • Don’t use the wrong contact

Marks goes into detail for each point, such as doing your homework:

If you do contact a Googler directly, be able to show that you did these things. You’re likely to get more attention if you can say “I tried this like it says in the docs, but that didn’t work because...” rather than “How do I make a Marker?” Send a link to the post you made in the help forum. That way we can make sure it gets answered and others benefit from the answer. Send us a link to your code, or post it in JSFiddle or something so that we can see your code.

If you think about it, it's a little bit of a Golden Rule: how would you want to be approached with a technical question? While these Googlers are paid to talk to developers, their time is still finite. By following the points above, you can prove that you find their time as valuable as your own.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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