I’m very new here, but I’ve been reading a lot of the questions and wondered if a reasonable answer would be:

Make Google your friend for 20 seconds before you ask questions.

Or if that would be considered branding and it would be better phrased:

Make an anonymous-generic-search engine your friend for 20 seconds before you ask questions.

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    To add to Jakes answer below neither of those are acceptable as either an answer or a comment, at least on their own. We are a site of users for users, not technical elites looking down on people because they might not know what terms to punch into Google. "I don't know the answer but these search terms might help you on Google" is only just barely acceptable in my book. Anything less is wasted words and will (if I see it) definitely be deleted and you might as well just have hit the back button and looked at another question than waste the time writing it. – Mokubai Oct 24 '15 at 21:22
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    Somebody has to write the results that show up in google searches. Why not us? – nhinkle Oct 25 '15 at 5:53
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    @nhinkle Actually this is a very good point. The Stack Exchange site’s overall focus on quality and depth is the reason content here ranks high on Google searches to begin with. So it’s an odd bit of logic to ask someone to Google something if—in many cases—it would lead them to this site anyway. – JakeGould Oct 25 '15 at 6:06
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    I would find either answer as being unhelpful. I would comment that the either answer does not provide an answer to the proposed question, I would also vote to delete either answer. In other words neither answer is very helpful. – Ramhound Oct 26 '15 at 18:33
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    Let's be honest - half my answers come from doing what the OP couldn't: Googling – Insane Oct 26 '15 at 23:07
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    only half? We're being honest remember ;) – Kilisi Oct 27 '15 at 6:55
  • Wouldn't Meta Stack Exchange be a better fit for this? Super User isn't the only site where you can post questions to which Google already has the answers (and not the only site where it happens, I'm sure). – Blacklight Shining Oct 27 '15 at 8:12
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    It's just another LMGTFY-style response; these are not acceptable on Stack Exchange. – bwDraco Oct 31 '15 at 17:53
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    Hate to break it to you, but Google is not your friend. – piers7 Nov 4 '15 at 1:23
  • @piers7 how friendly is anonymous-generic-search engine? – Kilisi Nov 4 '15 at 2:07
  • @Kilisi, Note: my comments have been mod-deleted. An archive is at archive.is/CQLye – Pacerier Nov 8 '15 at 6:23
  • @Pacerier no idea why they would delete the comment, didn't look that bad to me.. ahh well, que sera sera, what ever will be ... etc,. :) – Kilisi Nov 8 '15 at 6:59
  • Well, you can always give them URLs from lmgtfy.com and letmegooglethat.com (see archive, since it's currently down)... – LWC Nov 3 at 9:09
up vote 40 down vote accepted

I’m very new here, but I’ve been reading a lot of the questions and wondered if a reasonable answer would be:

Nope. That is not a answer. Nothing of what you are saying would ever be a reasonable answer since an answer is not a commentary judgement call on another user’s capabilities. An answer is an answer. You could possibly use a tone like that if you can actually provide a real answer to the issue by saying, “Here is what you can do. I just Googled it from this site.” But as an answer in and of itself, nope.

That said—as someone who has been doing tech work for years—I feel your pain, and that kind of tone might be used as a comment since “Have you tried Google?” is the modern equivalent of “Read the flying *cough* manual.” But just not without giving the person asking the question the benefit of the doubt.

The problem is not branding/promotion of using “Google,” but rather the immediate aggressive tone. I will admit I have asked if someone did some basic Google searching while dealing with quite bad questions, but only in frustration, only in the comments and only when the question was so bad I avoided standing up to watch it get down voted and closed.

So my approach would be to assume good faith. Some people truly come here in a panic when they have a problem and leave out details, but a simple comment stating, “Well, did you even do a basic Google search? Because I just did and found this, that and the other…” The deal is that sometimes people do come back and say, “Oh, I forgot to mention that…” Other times people will just say, “I saw those, I don’t know what those mean… Please help me! This is urgent!”

The reality is you honestly cannot assume someone is just being dense to be dense. It’s better to assume right away that someone needs real help and their lack of details that could be coming from panic are rooted in a rush to find a solution more than anything else.

If they then just act dense and—honestly—like an idiot looking for free tech support as if this place is an on-demand help desk, then just politely walk away and say, “Look if you can’t help yourself, we can’t help you…”

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    ahhh... so possibly it's a reasonable comment, but not a reasonable answer. Not that I'd use it myself. – Kilisi Oct 24 '15 at 20:23
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    @Kilisi Exactly. I edited the answer to address the issue. The basic answer is “Give someone a chance to be smart even if their question seems like they didn’t do research.” We’ve all been in one of those scenarios where something fails, panic ensues and we just… Panic… Give someone a chance to bring themselves to lucidity and if they can’t? Comment, flag, down vote and move on… – JakeGould Oct 24 '15 at 20:30
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    Is Super User really doing so well in terms of question quality that it can afford this? When it's enough to enter a question's title into Google and a perfect answer to the question is among the top 3 results, it shouldn't have been asked here. In that scenario, by having it asked here, you're actually polluting search results and diverting attention away from the canonical resource. – Pekka 웃 Oct 29 '15 at 11:12
  • @Pekka웃 I’d generally agree with you, but for the past few days I have done my own Google searching to solve a problem and pretty much all of the “perfect” answers that come up for a solution are far from perfect. I ha dot cobble together what I believe is a better answer on my own using the misinformation of other high ranked (crappy) answers. So the benefit is that since this site focuses on moderation and content quality, we can also be the last word on “Look, these sites say do this, well I can tell you… You shouldn’t do this, you should do that…” And I believe that depollutes the mix. – JakeGould Oct 29 '15 at 16:30
  • @JakeGould I don't think your theory reflects reality. I do a google search for how to fix my broken blivit. The top 6 results all say the same thing. Result 7 tells me to do something different. Do I go with the six (which in reality are cut and paste of one article) or do I go with the seventh? What if the first page is all the same and the unique answer is on page 2? You don't get your "depolution" based on the reality that the average person will go with the masses... – Everett Nov 3 '15 at 12:36

If you feel that the question is basic and was certainly answered hundred times already, take your time to search for answers on the Stack Exchange site the question is asked, and if you find one, flag the new question as a duplicate. It will not earn you any reputation you might have gained by answering it, but it will keep the site clean in the long run.

Short of existing answer on the site the question is asked, you should consider either writing one, or leaving that task to others.

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    This makes you part of the solution rather then part of the problem. The problem of course is submitting low quality content instead of only extremely high quality helpful productive content. This is a good answer. – Ramhound Oct 26 '15 at 18:35

Googling properly is an art and even if one chooses to pick the way of the two fowls moving, or small cushioned sound, one must still learn to work in harmony with his tools. Or have a wide and varied vocabulary of curse words. Using a search engine well is an acquired skill.

I learnt it in a secret monastery in the Himalayas that was seeking enlightenment in the works of a hundred million evolved apes typing on keyboards in a university module on research, which was amazingly good. (Dunno if the university still does it. Amusingly the most useful course of my time there as an undergrad.)

There's a reason the site “let me Google that for you” is (was?) blacklisted as a link here. And don't forget, Google searches often feed back here.

If an answer's simple

  1. And is so obviously trivial that the owner obviously did not put his brain in gear? is it? Has it been asked before? (close as dupe) hasn't it (is it worth posting an amusing answer? or

  2. Is there some unexpected depth (comment! Dig down the rabbit hole of mundanity to find the lagomorph of interestingness!)

If it's trivially searchable or self evident but there's no answer, it may be a good opportunity get a bit of reputation by posting a good, well explained answer which would then get picked up by Google and these noobs can get off your lawn users might find the answer here.

  • +1 for a good answer in accord with the spirit of the question, however you did not cover the bit about Google vs Anonymous-Generic-Search-Engine – Kilisi Oct 24 '15 at 23:49
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    One must learn harmony with the search engine to find what he seeks. Of just have the patience to spam keywords. For some reason, my secret search engine monk training works better on ddg. NO BING, I WANT THE WINDOWS 10 INSTALL MEDIA TOOL. NOT A QOO10 LINK DAMNIT. – Journeyman Geek Oct 24 '15 at 23:56
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    Made answer more generic – Journeyman Geek Oct 24 '15 at 23:59
  • nicely done, kudo's :) – Kilisi Oct 25 '15 at 0:02

Online etiquette shouldn't be much different to face-to-face etiquette. Please see the excellent answers and comments to this related question on the Workplace.SE site:

How to politely ask a coworker to “Google it”

From Monica Cellio's excellent answer:

When this happens to me I usually ask "what search terms did you try?". This way if they did try to search I might be able to help them search more effectively, and if they didn't they sometimes say "ummm..." and go away.

...even if I strongly suspect they didn't try I will act as if they did. That way if they did I don't look bad.

You simply don't know if they've researched it or not. Pretending that you do is extremely arrogant and needlessly frustrating if the asker has spent the last hour googling it, wading through pages and pages of poor quality cr*p that doesn't help.

Even if you have searched on this and found good quality stuff, maybe you used better search terms. It's easy to choose the right search terms when you already know the answer. Helping people search better is a great way to help people help themselves.

From starsplusplus's comment:

What I love about this answer is that it assumes good intent but does it in a way that will make them feel bad if there was no good intent ... an underlying assumption that they wouldn't possibly have come to ask you if they hadn't already Googled... right? ;)

This is a site with high standards. Let's keep it that way:

  • "What search terms did you use?" sends a message that we expect users to have already done research. If you haven't, you've fallen short of our standards, and you need to raise your game to fit in.
  • "Go and google it" or any variant sends a message that we expect users to have not bothered to do research, that failing to do research is common here, and that this is a site that is constantly at war with its lazy, terrible users.

If you were a good, conscientious user, which site sounds better?

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    "You simply don't know if they've researched it or not. Pretending that you do is extremely arrogant and needlessly frustrating if the asker has spent the last hour googling it, wading through pages and pages of poor quality cr*p that doesn't help." Precisely. I've been through this myself. – bwDraco May 3 '16 at 3:35

The nature of these sorts of posts is not much different than pointing users to LMGTFY. It's rude and unacceptable for Stack Exchange.

Remember that answer posts must represent a meaningful attempt to answer the question. A response along the lines of "make <search engine> your friend" does not by itself address the question. Furthermore, such responses indicate laziness on the part of the answer author and a negative attitude towards the OP, contrary to our code of conduct. These posts simply do not belong on our site.

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