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A comment was left on a question I asked that stated that it's not okay to ask for links to documentation:

Unfortunately, we're not here to provide links to documentation (asking that is actually specifically off-topic).

I completely understand how a question about locating documentation, rather than just using a search engine, can be against the rules, but I don't think that applies to my question. If you read how I originally worded the question, you can see that I did ask for documentation, however, I don't think it was inappropriate to do so since that wasn't the entire point to my question.

After asking the comment poster why asking for documentation was against the rules, he/she referenced https://superuser.com/help/on-topic and replied:

It counts as a "learning material recommendation."

Maybe I'm interpreting that phrase incorrectly, but I believe that it is referring to subjective questions that ask for "recommendations" (i.e. Where can I find a good book on browser caching? or Can you recommend a site where I can learn about browser caching?)

To be fair, asking for users to support their answers with documentation if available may be unnecessary since the guidelines encourage "links to external sources." However, should a question be considered invalid just because the user asks if documentation exists and, if so, to include a link to it?

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Questions where requests for documentation are incidental to the actual request are answerable in an objective fashion, can be well-suited for the Stack Exchange Q&A format, and are on-topic here provided that you meet the other rules laid out in the help center.

Requests for specific documentation (i.e. content that is not hosted here) are off-topic because they depend entirely on other web sites, and tend to not be super helpful for anybody but the question owner. They're off-topic even if there's only one good answer because if the linked page changes, the answer and question become useless.

Great answers, however, explain the situation thoroughly on this site and also provide links to allow for further research. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Now that all that's out of the way, I think the question was alright in its original form, and I would not have voted to close. I am concerned, however, that your question was asking for a list of browsers and their maximum cache size, and that borders on "list of X" and tends to be closed as too broad. It would have been better to ask about a specific browser. Who knows, a great answer might have talked about other browsers and common standards.

  • Thanks for confirming my suspicions that it's unnecessary to request links to documentation because answers should include them when appropriate anyway. I also appreciate the constructive criticism to list a specific browser. – jordanbtucker Jan 27 '16 at 1:03
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If you read how I originally worded the question, you can see that I did ask for documentation, however, I don't think it was inappropriate to do so since that wasn't the entire point to my question.

You indicate that it wasn't the entire point of your question, but our counter point would be, the very request for documentation isn't on topic. If you were provided an answer, you could then request, evidence supporting their answer and you would be entirely within the intent of the rule. One would expect an answer to this type of question, to be supported by documentation, even if you don't explicitly request it. Furthermore your question actually only contains a single question, I have provided your entire original revision, for complete context.

Note that I don't mean the maximum size of the browser cache. I mean, what is the maximum size of individual files that will be cached by the latest versions of the major desktop browsers (i.e. Firefox, Chrome, IE/Edge). Mobile versions optional.

If there is a limit, where is this documented?

This question was originally asked on Server Fault, but only received an answer for Firefox before it was closed as off topic.

The only question I see is a request for documentation on the limit, if it exists, which if it exists would be discoverable with a Google search. You failed to provide a body to your question. You incorrectly presumed, we knew what your actual question actually was, you incorrectly used the title of the question as a beginning sentence to your question.

I only saw your question in its original form. I don't recall how I voted, but the original revision is not very specific, good questions seek an answer about a specific real problem. We don't need to know every single detail, but enough that we understand what the problem is, so if we know the solution to the problem we can provide it.

  • Another new rule I haven't heard: "You incorrectly used the title of the question as a beginning sentence to your question." I still don't see how someone who carefully read my question would conclude that I was only asking for documentation. It seems like the arguments for why my question was poorly posed are rather pedantic. It sounds like I would have been better off just leaving the question at "What is the maximum file size that will be cached by a browser?" – jordanbtucker Jan 27 '16 at 0:57
  • I just realized that there were two questions in there, the first one just didn't end in a question mark: "I mean, what is the maximum size of individual files that will be cached by the latest versions of the major desktop browsers (i.e. Firefox, Chrome, IE/Edge)." – jordanbtucker Jan 27 '16 at 1:01
  • Its not a rule. Its just proper writing. The title is important, it provides us underline context, but the body of the question is the most important part. I took this question as you wanting to understand, why the community, thought you were asking for a learning recommendation. How are we suppose to know what is a question, without a question mark, its the only indication we have what you wrote is a question. If you only just realized, there were two questions, how were we suppose to know it was a question? – Ramhound Jan 27 '16 at 1:27
  • This question was not about why the community thought I was asking for learning recommendations. I only asked two questions (both using question marks) and neither of them were about learning recommendations. And again, you're being pedantic about the question mark. If you can't recognize a question from a sentence that starts with "what" but omits the question mark, then your reading skills are more the problem than the slight grammar mistake. It's pretty important in this internet age to be able to makes sense of poorly written emails, text messages, and internet forum posts. – jordanbtucker Jan 27 '16 at 1:47
  • It's also contradictory to reprimand me for forgetting a question mark, which you say caused users to miss the question, and then presume that I'm asking a different question when I use question marks on the questions I'm really asking. – jordanbtucker Jan 27 '16 at 1:50
  • Who reprimanded you exactly? I thought you want to hear our opinion on the matter? I gave you my opinion on the reason I thought your original revision, was indeed asking for a learning recommendation, not sure the reason you have such hostility towards me. – Ramhound Jan 27 '16 at 13:58
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    Yes; I am a perfectionist in many ways, so yes I am being pedantic, that doesn't disturb me in the slightest. Don't understand your reprimanded comment, the question wasn't even closed, nor close to being closed, at any point time. Even if it was closed its no big deal, you fix the problem, and the question is opened again. – Ramhound Jan 27 '16 at 14:26

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