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How do I use my Gather Information skill, or do plot 'legwork'?

We use the DMStaff queue as the place to send requests to gather info; however, since sometimes these requests aren't clear, I'd like to provide an idea of how we'd like to see them done, just to make life easier. If you have an ally that you worked through RP to gain and have +stnoted on you, you should mention if you intend to use him as a source.

Note that your GI requests will have difficulties assigned by various factors, including location. If you are a city type and want information on the wilds, it will have a higher DC than it would for someone who lives there, for example.

Here's a sample: I would like to find out more about the ship sunk in the harbor yesterday.

Sources: I would like to speak to the sailors on the docks, and the dockside merchants, to get their observations. In addition, I'd like to talk to my ally Joe, who works in a warehouse near the dock, and see what he knows.

Method: I'm going to offer to pay them up to 5 gold each for data, and will hold back more for someone who seems to have further useful information.

Questions asked:

Who owned the ship?

Was anyone hurt/killed?

What sort of cargo was it carrying?

Are there any suspects?