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How should we approach questions which in general could be found using a Google search or similar?

These questions might take 15 mins to find though, would probably be answered here off the top of someones head; maybe even quicker.

It could be viewed as being lazy though, at the same time could be viewed as a time saver depending on if you are asking or answering.

Should we welcome time saving questions or discourage lazy questions?

(Even this question itself could fall under being lazy as it could have been answered on another SE site)

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    <aside>I see allot of people on SO say "link <- this took me two seconds to find via Google" or similar as if that would have been the case for the person asking the question as well. I'm not a fan of this as it's not very welcoming for users IMO. If we aren't welcoming all questions, even lazy ones, how should we address these types of questions more professionally ?</aside> – Natetronn Dec 2 '12 at 21:02
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    There's nothing I hate more than finding a forum page via google (top result), with the answer saying "geez why don't you just google it". I think the test should be "has it already been answered HERE", not "can the answer be found via google". – Adrian Macneil Dec 2 '12 at 22:51
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You should completely remove "This answer is Googleable" from your vocabulary because it is generally a gross mischaracterization of the issue. When we use the term "lazily-asked question", it has very little to do with how basic it is, or how easily the answer might be found in a Google search.

It is easy to become stumped when you don't even know what to search for. The objection to lazily-asked questions has more to do with how much thought and effort went into the question before asking for help from others. When the question doesn't even answer "what have you tried?", it starts to feel like the author is taking advantage of others. "Do my work for me…"

One of the motivations experts have for using this site is autonomy — that sense self-direction to pick and chose problems in this field you would enjoy working on. That means questions should generally be somewhat intriguing, or at least convey a sense of purpose; i.e. helping someone deserving an answer. It is simply too easy to lose interest and take your interests elsewhere.

It takes a lot of work to provide a good answer. It should talk at least as much work from the author leading up to the question. When questions involve vague generalities that don't even answer "what have you tried?" and "how can we help you specifically?", this whole exercise will likely be perceived as a waste of time.

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    Yes, yes, yes. We have to remember that just because we're fired up about answering questions now, and some are taking a "more questions = better" approach in order to grow the site, getting ill-researched, poorly-documented questions over and over will drive the experts away. – Derek Hogue Dec 4 '12 at 15:38
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So, for me anyway, the first question is: is this question common enough to be useful beyond this one case?

The reason being if this site becomes as much of a success as we hope it will do, we will attract a decent number of lazy/noob questions, and however we respond to those there will be an overhead in dealing with these. As such I'd argue that it would make sense for us to have a high quality answer here that people will either reach organically or that we can link people to.

Beyond those qns that are likely or have general use to newbie EE devs, (eg slight edge cases that are addressed in the docs/have high quality relevant search results already) I think it depends on the questioner.

If from the tone/content of the question it seems like the OP is very new to EE, I'm inclined to answer sympathetically. Recent events aside, we are, and should be, ambassadors for our community here - I found the EE community incredibly welcoming and supportive when starting out, and I think that's a strength. If however, a poster seems more experienced but engages in repeated "lazy" questions I'd give them rather shorter shrift.

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Right now, as we build the site, there are no bad questions IMHO.

Presently lots of the top Google search results are going to broken EL forum and Wiki links. SE lets up build a new database of answers that won't ever go away.

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  • Agreed, let's ask tons of simple questions because StackExchange's searchability is great, it gets people comfortable with the concept, and you can find some surprising insights from seemingly simple questions. – Richard Frank Dec 6 '12 at 16:33
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Totally agree with Tom. Also what we need to remember is that what may be viewed by more experienced users as a "lazy question" may be an entirely valid query for a new user. If we have a repository of answers to the most common questions then we can direct people to those answers immediately rather than waste screen space with repetitive content.

We must be mindful too that so much information that was once available on the EE forums is sadly now gone as part of EllisLab's move to paid support and targetting of enterprise clients.

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I'm with Tom. My thoughts are even if an answer can be found via Google, it's worth the effort to provide, then point to the Google search that produced it. Even something as simple as

I don't know much about this, but found this answer for you via Google search is far better than, 'go search Google'.

I think making our replies as thorough and informing as possible is the goal, and referencing Google searches is just part of the referencing processes, which hopefully more of us will use when possible.

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I appreciate any "lazy" questions as I am pretty new to EE, and I'm still learning lots of the basics. I find it very useful to browse questions, look at responses and analyse code samples to get a better understanding. If it's "all under one roof" so to speak, all the better! :)

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