14

A very good example would be this question that came in today: https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/63584/parsing-rss-feeds. I purposely avoided the LMGTFY, although a question like that begs for it.

That said, I asked something recently that borders on that as well: Functional Languages that compile to Android's Dalvik VM?.

I think both of these questions, and I will take care of mine, could use a bit of an edit to request personal experience with the tool, if it exists. Recommendations on how to make these types of questions better for the community at large?

  • To me your first example is borderline, and your second is a valid question on its own right (i.e. it probably can't be answered by pointing to a single search hit on Google). A "perfect" example to me is rather like this recent one: What is MVC in programming? IMHO you can only "improve" it by making it into a different question. – Péter Török Mar 31 '11 at 8:33
  • 4
    Try to think about it this way coming from a "Didn't bother to search for it first" perspective. Giving a quality answer (instead of not answering, or giving them a LMGTFY link, will enable others in the future to easily find an answer to that question on Google. And that'll be a big plus for Stack Exchange's SEO, too. After all, Asking is just another way of Learning. – J.T.S. Apr 9 '11 at 9:19
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    Please note that you can only find things with Google if you use the right words. Teaching which words to use should be part of any answer to such a question. – user1249 Apr 19 '12 at 7:09
  • This is SE. So let me "Bing it on" for you would be more appropriate – user Sep 22 '12 at 14:07
28

Have you ever done a google search and found the first few results were all discussion boards where someone said, "This is a dumb question, why don't you google it?"

If you don't want to answer the question, don't answer it. But a link to LMGTFY will only make it harder for people who are trying to find the information on their own.

  • +1 since you put it that way... I haven't had that happen, but I wouldn't be too surprised! – Fosco Apr 1 '11 at 0:49
  • +1 ROFL,Coz I did. – Aditya P Apr 1 '11 at 9:29
20

There is a relevant blog post:

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/02/are-some-questions-too-simple/

And even a handy flow chart:


(source: stackoverflow.com)

  • 20
    Erm, when are we getting our "General Reference" close reason, hm? – Robert Harvey Mar 31 '11 at 1:09
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    Should have been a LMGTFY link to the blog... :) – Cipher Apr 7 '11 at 4:53
6

Your suggestion to request personal experience or more details is a good one.

When the questions and answers are thoughtful, I actually don't think its a problem even if it's a pretty easy Google search. The reason for that is that the Question-Answer format is better for readability and permanency than Google anyway, and we need to remember that asking and answering questions on StackExchange is more than just for the asker — it's a service to all those who will be searching the site, or even Google, in the future.

So, in summary, what should we do with easy questions?

  1. Make sure the question explains the problem using more than just search keywords.
  2. Make sure to answer it with more than just links. (Even if you don't have personal experience, summarize what you gleaned from the link, since links do often go stale. E.G. for questions about tools, summarize the platforms the tool runs with/on, and the main features or purpose of the tool.)
  3. Sit back and watch the rep roll in for an easy question! :)
  • +1 for 3 But i already voted on this :( – Aditya P Mar 31 '11 at 5:06
4
  1. I would think the personal experience is implied by the asker if he can Google it himself.
  2. The thing with "Let Me Google That For You" Type questions is.People would differ in search results based on keywords.
  3. Experience, Understanding, Exposure of each person varies hence his search on an issue would vary by the keywords they use based on the deeper understanding of the problem or maybe a different aspect.
  4. Even with searching the answers using Google we might often miss a point due to mere over sight or not getting the context or not exploring a link further as we may not see the immediate relevancy.

So: IMHO We should do what we can to provide interesting answers :)

3

There should be strong language in this site to motivate against the answer "Have you tried Google?"

Everyone knows how to use Google. This response is just arrogance and a lack of helpfulness.

Maybe they have a good reason for asking the question. Maybe they did Google and didn't find a good answer. Maybe they found too many answers. Maybe they found conflicting information. Maybe they want a good answer from an expert, rather than a answer of questionable quality.

Maybe they didn't understand the information that they found because it is too technical, or wordy, or too long and detailed. Maybe the answers they found were difficult for them to understand because they were not at the right level of knowledge and experience.

Maybe they are Googling while waiting for a reply. Maybe they have concerns that you are not aware of, like they believe that there is a lot of mis-information on the topic (which is often true).

The whole point of this site is to answer questions, not to be obnoxious. "Did you Google it?" is just obnoxious.

If someone wants to answer "Did you Google it?", that is a perfectly natural reaction. But it is not an answer. This site should tell them that it's not an answer.

  • LMGTFY is clearly and officially banned for more than a year now – gnat Apr 17 '12 at 15:24
  • Hrrrmmm I went to that link and don't see anything "clearly and officially" saying it's banned. I did notice the status-completed tag after I read a few answers, and after reading some of the lower-scoring answers I see users saying there is a ban in effect, so it sounds like it was implemented afterall, but just not "clearly and officially" :) – Rachel Apr 17 '12 at 17:18
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    @Rachel The title of the question is "Ban lmgtfy (let me google that for you) links", and there's a red [status-completed] tag. It doesn't get any more clear or official than that (but I guess it would make sense to also have an answer from a team member). – yannis Apr 17 '12 at 17:56
  • @YannisRizos yes that's what I meant. Ban lmgtfy -> feature-request / status-completed. In a question with 30+ comments and 15 answers, it hardly can be more prominent than that (16th answer from a team member would likely be hard to notice even if it would be added) – gnat Apr 18 '12 at 13:24
2

You should try to be as helpful as possible.

Its easy to research a subject when you know it but many a time Google has failed me as I am asking the wrong question through ignorance.

I joined this site as recently many Google searches have lead me here.

Also it is highly irritating to research something on you own and when you try to ask a question you get told to Google it.

That being said some questions need to be ignored.

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