This question is specifically related to ILS specifications. In it the answer given states that the question is already answered in Wikipedia, and the original version of the answer was basically a cut and paste from Wiki. (I think the answer answers the question, that is not the issue, well done @mins).

In (most?) other Stack Exchanges (at least the several I frequent) there is a explicitly stated, or implicitly agreed upon, belief that Stack Exchange should not compete with, nor attempt to replace Wikipedia, et al.

In the History StackExchange, for instance, there is a closure category which explicitly lists this as a reason. Do we wish to have answers given (as canonical, perhaps) which are basically reprints of a reputable Wiki?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Good questions and already two interesting answers. BTW this question is not a duplicate, the other question has not the same scope (cat III only), so I'm voting to reopen. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


As far as I remember (I can't find the link now) the understanding here has so far been that "if they come to us, and it is on topic, there is no reason of turning them away".

Personally, with my mod hat off, I think that keeping the questions open can be a good approach. Sure, it can be available elsewhere, but why can't we have an answer as well?

We could try to suggest that answers to that kind of questions need to be wiki answers, but the problem in any case is where to put the limit. Lots of question about aerodynamics and fluid-dynamics are already answered around the internet, do we want to start closing all those questions with a notice that basically says "you're not welcome here"?

Said otherwise, I don't see how closing these questions would help us (or leaving them open would harm us). These are new users coming to us for help, turning them away will have long term effects on the health of the community (this comes from experience in past "closed" communities, the lack of new users meant the end of those communities).


This question should be closed because the answer can be found in this canonical source. Just kidding.

The question you're addressing of Wikipedia vs Stack Exchange has several different points, of which I'll only answer a few,

  1. What should be done about questions that can trivially answered by reading some of the most prominent information on a Wikipedia page? (e.g. what frequency does VHF operate at?)
  2. What should we do about questions that can be non-trivially answered by reading information deep inside a long Wikipedia page? (e.g. What is the difference between Cat IIIb and Cat IIIc landings?)
  3. Should answers which are just basically one long quote from Wikipedia be improved or just rejected?
  4. Should we redirect users to the most canonical source for their information, or should we explain things in just enough detail?
  5. Should we add a "general reference" closure reason?

Jeff Atwood has stated several times that Stack Exchange is a question & answer site, not a Wikipedia. Sort of like how when you go to your teacher or coworker with a question, you want an answers, you don't want him to tell you just to read chapter 13 of a book. Similarly, Jeff Atwood has said:

it’s not OK to close [a question about IP address meaning] as a duplicate of a twenty-seven page guide to netmasks. That’s the moral equivalent of saying “RTFM.” Stack Overflow is not meant to be a library of reference manuals. It’s supposed to contain the same information as a library of reference manuals, in the form of millions of questions and answers. Combined with Google, that gives us the magical power of a library of reference manuals you never have to read! It’s like, you got to the library, and there’s a wizard there at the door, and you ask your question, and, instead of being told to read a book, you just got (are you sitting down?) the actual answer! (Source)

The main concern in your question seems to be low-effort questions. The thing is, we don't close questions just they're low quality or lack research. A vote to close is not a super-downvote.

"General reference" is seen as a closure reason on history and science-fiction SE for several reasons, including that these subjects are easier to research, and typical questions aren't as focused on question of "how?" or on regulations as this site. Additionally, the "general reference" closure category has been somewhat controversial (see this question and this one), and I personally would hate to add that drama to this site. Even on those SE sites the original question about ILS may have been hard enough to Google to avoid closure as a general reference. More discussion on spreading "general reference" closures to other sites can be found here.

If the post bothers you, suggest improvements. If it's a low-effort post, comment on it and vote it down. Don't shut down a post completely because you think more people should know details in long articles. We're not Wikipedia.


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