While we don't claim to know too much some of us have been on IRC since the 90's and picked up a few tricks to help users get better results and be more self reliant.
Most of what is written here is common sense, however sometimes it helps to write it down so we can jog our own memories.
There Is No Such Thing As A Stupid Question
There are however things we are helpers on IRC should think about before we answer. The person speaking to us may not type the language in well, and as if to spite of our own best efforts we too may not type exactly what we mean so the conversation may not be exactly the most optimum way to solve the problem.
We May Not Have All The Answers
We may not understand all questions. This can be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps our inability to parse the question due to a misunderstanding on the part of the questioner about how something works. Perhaps the questioner is not trying to work on a solution but just get ideas about how something works.
Do Ask More Questions
Don't be afraid to think, hang on there is not enough information here to explicitly state an answer. Ask questions that give you clear answers. Examples: Please pastebin the config. Please paste the command line you are using.
Do say: What was your expected outcome? What was your actual outcome?
http://rzlab.ucr.edu/~dpkg/ is the debian bot - you might want to look at its database off line.