The recurrent debate of whether simple questions are allowed or not is back. The questions are simple in the sense that answers are very easy to get online. Such recent questions:


Two views:

  • The OP didn't search hard enough (maybe they didn't search at all) before asking, and optionally the question should be downvoted.

  • The site policy is not against questions that have already a good answer online.

My personal mindset at the moment is:

  • Unless the question is a trick to get some hidden benefit (e.g. disguised advertising), all good questions are good enough, regardless of existing answers.

  • There must be apparent good will / honesty.

  • As it was discussed in the related comments, someone may miss the way to search for an existing answer (on the site, or elsewhere). We do not have to penalize by a downvote such questions.

  • Answerers may use existing online documentation from different sources, and add value by assembling elements in better / more educational / more simple / ... ways.

  • We are all together building a another reference where simple answers have to be found too.

  • It would be good it more expert-level Q/A existed, but increasing the ratio cannot be done by limiting simple questions, it has to be done by additions.

Related comments

I don't bother to link to the author as it doesn't matter who said them, and I think it may vary depending on the day / the question:

Not a good question:

  • Please do a little basic research before asking here.

  • Questions on SE normally expect a bit of research ahead of time. This was obviously not done in this case.

  • Poor question.

  • In this case, your question is already answered by the Wikipedia article about this particular helicopter.

  • History.SE actually has a Close reason of "Easily found on Wikipedia".

Acceptable question:

  • This site is generally speaking supposed to be beginner friendly, I'm actually pretty surprised by all the downvotes.

  • If we refused to answer questions that already have a relevant Wikipedia article, this site would be a lot smaller :-)

  • So far the consensus on this site is that we answer questions, we don't tell people to RTFM or JFGI.

Not a good question, but let's answer it:

  • I do agree with you that people who do some research first usually ask better questions.

  • It happens, even to the best of us.

  • We should give people the benefit of the doubt.

  • We have no idea why the OP wasn't able to find the answer on their own, perhaps they are young, perhaps they're google-fu was off today.

Chat is best suited:

  • Some of your questions may actually work a bit better in chat, perhaps you would like to join us there?


  1. Should we have a common position?

  2. Can we agree on principles?

  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife: Yes that's true the question is similar and I'll leave the decision to close to the reviewers. Still it seems to me the discussion occurring on the question pages should rather occur on meta. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 6 '16 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, any real discussion should absolutely happen here. I just wanted to avoid having two meta questions discussing the same point. IMO, it would be better to add your opinions to this question as an answer, then we would have everyone's input in the same place. But if you think this is a different issue then of course we should leave it as a separate discussion. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Oct 6 '16 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife: I don't believe adding an answer to a one year old question can trigger any discussion, specially on meta, I won't bother to copy-paste my post. Let's say this topic is already well understood. Thanks for your comment. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 7 '16 at 12:02

While my general feeling is that one should not lower the bar, but instead help people learn how to pole vault, there is merit in the "you get more flies with honey than with vinegar" approach. How we each engage with anyone whose question is of low quality is a matter of style. That's going to be influenced somewhat by personality type. You can't legislate Type A or Type B. If an objective of this site is to grow, then the challenge is two fold:

  1. Encourage and mentor folks to ask better questions. Comments and chat are our tools.
  2. Maintain standards, and still close/down vote questions that do not meet standards, just as we do for answers.
  • $\begingroup$ It's not clear to me whether you would say the two questions given as examples "meet standards"? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 6 '16 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @mins The Kamov one was poor, but workable. The Lightning one was unsat as first asked, hence my down vte and comment. IMO, as it was an obvious a case of No Research Done. If he could find that pic and know it's a Lightning, it's trivially easy to look up Lightning on Wikipedia. Kids start using Wiki in Junior High as a source, and learn how to foot note it. So, user knows how to find an image in wiki but doesn't know how to read a web site about the same aircraft? $\endgroup$ Oct 6 '16 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed on both. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 6 '16 at 14:48

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