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I have seen several cases in which someone comments something along the lines of "this seems poorly researched" or "have you tried website x?".

These comments, at the end of the day, boil down to "just google it" comments. These sorts of comments add nothing to the discussion. At best the asker will ignore the comment, at worse it comes off as catty or rude and can drive people away from the site.

Here's the Meta.SE discussion about these sorts of comments. This has been linked a few times in response to someone posting a "just google it" comment.

Here are some of the examples that I've seen of such comments (names redacted so as to not point fingers):

  • Did you even do a minimum of research, e.g. googling "Nocturnal Animals ending"? Plenty of explanations etc. like [site] or [other site]?
  • This seems like something that could be easily answered by typing "Joya restaurant" into Google....
  • The proper spelling/pronunciation for all of the characters on that show can be quickly referenced by using a quick google search. The show has it's own website and wikia page where you can easily see that information

What to do if you are compelled to provide such a comment

If it's a question that's easy to answer via a google search, then down vote the question. Also, give thought into providing a well thought-out, detailed answer to the question. You might also prompt the asker to add more detail to their question, to explain more about what's confusing them that seems arbitrary to others.

At the end of the day, we are here to help people, not scold them for their lack of ability with search engines or lack of knowledge of wikis and other resources.

What to do if you see a "just google it" comment

Flag it as "Not Constructive." If it's someone that is doing it a lot, kindly link them to this discussion.

  • 12
    So, what you're suggesting is, instead of telling the user why we are downvoting them (easily googled answers show lack of research) we should just silently downvote and move on? And then, when they come to meta to complain that they were downvoted without explanation, we can explain "Well, I downvoted you because your post showed lack of research, but I'm not allowed to tell you how to do that research." That sounds like a much better plan than what's happening now. – KutuluMike Apr 24 '17 at 23:12
17

I generally agree with you but I don't think it's inappropriate to post nice guidance.

There's a huge difference between posting these two things:

Tried www.google.com?

and

"The proper spelling/pronunciation for all of the characters on that show can be quickly referenced by using a quick google search. The show has it's own website and wikia page where you can easily see that information"

The first one is non-helpful and generic... and in the case of a LMGTFY link, outright rude.

The second gives them information they may not have been aware of, and possibly forestall future bad questions... particularly in the case of a question that is likely going to be closed as trivia or off topic. We don't want people to answer questions when they're voting to close them as off-topic! That's confusing to everyone. I'm not sure where the quote above comes from but it looks like a question that would have been closed as trivia.

You could hardly wish us to stop telling "what's this image from" people to use the Google Image Search, right?

So, yes, telling someone to search Google is bad - if that's all you do.

13

There's a few problems with the meta SE discussion you linked to, and how you're trying to apply it.

For starters, that post, and the vast majority of similar meta posts, are specifically referring to answers. Posting an answer to a question that contains an off-site link, and no useful information, is always bad. Posting an answer telling the user to go find the answer on their own is even worse; that's always been true across SE.

Secondly, even those that do refer to comments are specifically referring to Google. The problem that is brought up in every one of those posts is that Google considered Stack Exchange a high-value information source. Once a question is asked here, it quickly bubbles up to the top of Google's search results. If you allow "just google it" answers, especially if they get lots of views, you end up with Google's search pointing you at a post that tells you to Google search.

Finally, when those meta posts start talking about flagging and/or banning LMGTFY and similar links, it's not because we don't want to tell users how to search for their answers elsewhere. It's because they are frequently considered rude and almost always unhelpful.

The solution is not to say "don't ever tell a user to Google something". The solution is to make sure we say it in a way that the user ends up knowing more than when they started, and does not feel "turned off" by the site.

Comments are explicitly designed to explain to the OP what you think is wrong with their post. Downvotes without explanation is probably the number one complaint new users have, and you're explicitly encouraging us to do it more. That's just wrong.

If you think the post is poorly researched, and you're willing to leave a comment explaining why you think that, you absolutely should do that -- as politely and helpfully as possible. If you think the user would benefit from knowing about some off-site resource that contains the answers to their questions, you absolutely should leave a comment explaining that. Pointing out to a user that, for example, the Game of Thrones wiki has a list of all the character's names has none of the problems those Meta Posts describe.

This is especially true if the question is so trivial that it's likely to get closed. The M&TV scope statement explicitly calls out that we "don't want to be an IMDB clone". If a question is about to get closed because it asks for something easily found on IMDB, shouldn't we explain that to the user so they know better next time?

https://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/276728/425736 says:

An answer that just says "Look for XXX in google" is not an answer at all. At most, it should be a comment.

https://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/320044/425736 says:

If you insist to redirect someone to Google (which most probably will link you to Stack Overflow again), you can post a better comment, for example:

Simple Google search should answer your question, please try to do a minimal research in your future posts.

-4

Embrace the non-Googlers

https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/15656/251318 from a stack exchange employee:

On a broader view: It seems that many people, even regulars, aren't getting the "Every question should be on Stack Overflow" policy. That's the intention of the site makers, and so that's what the community should enforce. Maybe this policy should be made clearer somehow?

Whether the question is programming related is a different issue than whether it's easy ("lazy"). "What does #include mean in C" is a valid SO question, while "What city is the Microsoft headquarters in" is not. Both are easy to google. – balpha♦

The FAQ says: "if your question [is a programming question]… then you're in the right place to ask your question!" -- no mention of a minimum level of any kind. – balpha♦

This refers to all of stack exchange, before the company changed their name to stack exchange and before they changed it back to stack overflow.

And the off topic trivia reason does not mean trivial to find, it means unimportant. Simple questions should not be down voted or closed simply because they are simple. Anyone that thinks that is a bully.


Update: More proof. https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/280426/should-comments-saying-google-it-be-flagged

Personally I'd flag such comments as not constructive. The comment is indeed not helpful, not to the OP and not to future visitors. Either show how googling it would have found the information, or not comment at all. answeredDec 16 '14 at 16:55 Martijn Pieters♦

Easily Google-able" is not (and has never been) a reason to close a question. – George Stocker♦Dec 17 '14 at 13:24

Nope. It was for questions where no answer would help because the user simply didn't understand enough about the problem to make use of the answer. "Googling it" may be an effect, but it wasn't the cause. That close reason was abused because others thought the same way you do, and thus removed. – George Stocker♦ Dec 17 '14 at 13:36

  • 3
    to be specific, that question refers to Stack Overflow before there was a Stack Exchange. August 2009 was around the time the second site in the network went live. Applying anything from that answer to "the Stack network" is a stretch. – KutuluMike Apr 25 '17 at 22:30
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    If "simple questions should not be down voted" were true, the down vote arrow helper test sure does tell everyone the wrong thing. It literally reads "does not show any research effort". A question that can be answered with the first hit on a google search is, by definition, lacking in research. – Catija Apr 25 '17 at 23:14

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