Should we close questions where there appears to be no research effort? Whilst I'm aware people of all technical abilities come here, questions like https://superuser.com/questions/736302/i-need-help-interconnect-the-three-computers-in-one-lan are just a joke - they could easily research this themselves!

Does this count as off topic as it's not defined in the scope... etc?

Or should I put in a reason "this is off topic because the OP is too lazy to do his own research" (obviously worded more diplomatically)

Or, is it still on topic?

  • I can't seem to press the edit button and fix this, but you have put 'Whilst I'm away people ... ' I think this is a typo and it should be 'aware'.
    – David
    Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 10:49
  • 1
    I wouldn't close it as "no research effort" that's the downvote button for, but as too broad as it has be done since we would need to write very long answers to address OP questions.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 13:23

5 Answers 5


There's an argument for the other side, as well. Why not rewrite those questions, where possible, into good canonical questions? In the end, SU/SE is supposed to be the place to do your research.

On the other end of the spectrum, and often unsuitable for SU, is troubleshooting - it's just not the right format. Those are the questions where prior research is most important. However, basic questions, as long as a reasonably concise answer can be given, should be preserved where possible.

That said, this particular question is... rather bad. More so since it seems to be homework.


StackOverflow is usually high on google search results. The worst thing is clicking on the first link of a google search, and seeing someone's comment telling the author to "research" (google) it.

  • 3
    hmmmm... I'm guilty of this! Good point, but then again, I've seen people with much higher reputation than I make them too...
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 7:25
  • 1
    Telling people to research something when something is well documented isn't necessarily a bad comment
    – Ramhound
    Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 17:22
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    @Ramhound, Why isn't it? It clutters up the Google search results with non-answers, actually making the research harder. I'd rather the question just be removed entirely (or at least de-indexed).
    – trlkly
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 1:55
  • @Dave, Usually the higher the rep, the more often they do these kind of things.
    – Pacerier
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 15:31
  • @trlkly, That's the exact reason why many "simple questions" are allowed on SE as long as they have many views. On one hand SE hates answering these simple questions. On the other hand, SE is going to be heavily penalized by Google (no longer top result) if the answers don't answer the question.
    – Pacerier
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 15:32

Bad questions should be downvoted. Questions with zero research effort qualify (especially when they're basically quotes of a homework assignment) as bad questions.

I put the question on hold for being too broad, because it is.

  • As always, your answer is excellent and clear. Thank you
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 13:14

The problem I see with all this is that one of the points of any Stack Exchange site is to be a resource to get to the answer quickly, without all the fluff. That's why the sites were designed the way they were. It's not all about the original questioner getting an answer.

Often the questions asked here have answers elsewhere, but those answers are full of fluff. You have to read through a bunch of bad answers. Or, if it's an official tutorial, you have to read through a bunch of other stuff before getting to the answer (like, say, anything by Microsoft).

So what we wind up doing when we tell someone to go research the question elsewhere is prolong the time it takes to get the answer. And not only for the original questioner, but for anyone who then finds the page on Google. It makes finding the answer less rather than more efficient.

I think we can handle discouraging bad questions via the reputation system. We don't need to not answer them unless they are completely out of scope for the site.


My thought on this is that it ought to probably depend on the individual situation/question, as in the case of the linked example question it was clearly a pasted homework question. Probably pretty unethical to just give a student who hasn't even tried to research at all the answer to their question. On the other hand, someone asking a similar question who has made it fairly obvious they're asking for personal use of the answer at home, and who's demonstrated at least some attempt at answering their own question with some level or searching/research, well... Seems more reasonable to answer such a question rather than close it with "Go Google it, newb..." ;)

  • 1
    I liked it when we could use the Let Me Google That For you :)
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 14:53

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