Lots of questions on Music SE could have been answered almost instantly with a quick Google search (e.g. this one). Should we require questions to demonstrate at least a minimal amount of prior research effort? Lack of research is given as a downvote reason, maybe it should be a close reason as well.

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    English Language & Usage has this rule. It leads to lots of closed questions. Oct 23 '19 at 16:22
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    @marcellothearcane But do good questions get closed? On German Language they're also strict about this, it stops people using the site as a dictionary.
    – PiedPiper
    Oct 23 '19 at 19:33
  • It cuts out most of the cruft to be honest. A lot of people ask 'give me the codes'-type questions which we can do without. Some users complain that we are a little too frivolous with the close votes on ELU though. Oct 23 '19 at 19:43
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    Out of interest, you have a 'new contributor' badge with 2.7k rep - is that because you haven't done much on meta? Oct 23 '19 at 19:44
  • @marcellothearcane I can only assume it's because I haven't done anything on Music meta.
    – PiedPiper
    Oct 23 '19 at 19:45
  • @PiedPiper I'm watching to the German Language SE most viewed and voted questions, and big portion of them show zero research effort. Perhaps the rule is a little sketchy in the first place. Oct 23 '19 at 20:28
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    @Lyd I've just seen that this has all been discussed before. It might be a good idea to accept an answer there and mark this question as a dupe. (Sorry, I failed to do what I'm preaching: research)
    – PiedPiper
    Oct 24 '19 at 9:30
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    @PiedPiper LOL! I completely forgot that happened! It was like 4 years ago though, so it's a good idea to revisit how the community feeling about it now. Oct 24 '19 at 11:20
  • @PiedPiper: The formulation of my question should have made clear that I have googled before I asked it. I agree with you that most questions here could be answered looking up at wikipedia. This SE is quite different from other SE like English or German language. But to quiet you ... As for me: I know how to google ;) But at least I try to ask questions that are not elementary. Oct 24 '19 at 20:29
  • @AlbrechtHügli I just took that question as an example because googling "vox humana organ" turns up a whole page of links to useful information. "Vox humana orgel" does the same and even just "vox humana" still produces good results.
    – PiedPiper
    Oct 24 '19 at 21:47
  • Stirring this 2-year-old pot to wonder: Okay, how much research? There's a point I'm curious about that is clearly covered in a certain book. I can't access it electronically. I could do an Interlibrary Loan and wait for it to come in. (Maybe, if I lived elsewhere in the world, that's not even an option for me.) I know SO's position is "This should your place of last resort." I wonder how we should feel about "I know where the answer can be found, I just can't access it at the moment." Probably not a reason for closure, but... Sep 22 at 14:22
  • @AndyBonner Anybody who can say "I've discovered the answer is in a book which I can't access at the moment" has demonstrated they've done prior research. We don't need to close that kind of question.
    – PiedPiper
    Sep 24 at 15:04

The very first suggestion on the How do I ask a good question? page is "search, and research":

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

Technically this links to the Music.SE search (suggesting it's an on-site search, not a full Internet search), but I've always understood this suggestion to indicate a search anywhere for your answer, not just on the Stack itself.

My understanding is that we have closed questions on the basis of "lack of research" before, but I might be thinking of another SE site.

  • I don't think we have ever closed questions on the basis of lack of research. I've seen plenty been downvoted, but not closed. Research is thrown as a blanket statement as common patterns in questions with good form, not as a requirement. If you mouse over the downvote image, you can see "does not show any research effort", so this part is left to the user discretion. Does the question need research? Do i want it to have it? Many (if not most!) of the most useful and viewed questions, both here and in SE, have ZERO research effort, for what it's worth. Oct 23 '19 at 20:15

I think there's a few different scenarios here.

On one hand, asking a question that could be as easily typed into Google may be a pointless exercise if all it yields is a "Let-Me-Google-That-For-You" kind of answer.

On the other hand, I've seen cases where a user with a knowledge gap in some area may lack the ability to google something themselves due to not quite knowing the right search terms, and those questions being criticised for lack of research.

There are also cases where a question is easy to google and get answers for, but less easy to get answers that can be trusted. A user might be asking here to get some peer verification on an answer.

It's always good for questions to contain the necessary context, and prior research is part of that. But I wouldn't agree with a blanket requirement to explicitly demonstrate prior research effort - sometimes it might be the case that a user has made that effort but doesn't feel that describing that effort adds clarity to the question.

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    I have no problem with scenario 2 "I've searched, but I don't know the right search terms" and scenario 3 "I've found an answer but don't know if I can trust it". I have have no problem with another scenario "I've found an answer, but I still don't understand". The problem is scenario 1: "Google this for me". How do we distinguish between these cases?
    – PiedPiper
    Oct 21 '19 at 12:43
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    In TeX.SX, a common problem is that people ask how to code this or that in LaTeX (specifically with TikZ, a package to draw graphics) and only provide a picture of what they like to have coded. This is considered bad practice, and typically the community tells them to at least come up with some lines of their own code. Maybe, one could establish a similar system here so that people need to state at least one source that they searched when asking a question? I don’t know whether this really helps, though. Oct 22 '19 at 16:25
  • @PiedPiper In music Q&A specifically, I don't think there's need to distinguish in the first place. You either want to help and share your knowledge, or not. If it's not a duplicate, I don't see why we should over worry and over think about the googlableness of each question. Music isn't as pragmatic as programming. Also, we have downvotes to deal with that kind of thing already, don't we? So, if you feel personally aggravated, you can always downvote. Oct 23 '19 at 20:08
  • @PiedPiper You don't have a problem with some scenarios, but how do you distinguish between them? Even if a user just wants you to google for him (something that I think happens a lot less than you are giving it credit for), that user can just write "i don't understand what i found" and be on the "i'm ok with it" category. Because of that kind of stuff, requiring previous research in this SE doesn't make much sense. Oct 23 '19 at 22:14
  • RE: "..lack the skills to google something..." It's not the job of SE to help out the functionally incompetent. Compare, e.g., people asking how to spell a word here because they don't know how to use a dictionary. Waste of time and electrons. Oct 24 '19 at 14:28
  • @CarlWitthoft 'skills' was the wrong word. Edited.
    – topo morto
    Oct 24 '19 at 15:34

Not all googleable questions have good quality answers, or answers that are worded and thought for a specific expertise level, or same depth, context, form, style, genre, etc.

In sites like Stack Overflow, with more pragmatic subjects, it makes a lot of sense that previous research is asked for, but music is much less pragmatic, along with the questions and answers derived from it.

So, should we require previous research? I don't think so. Some users don't even know what words and terminology are used formally, and some of them are in languages all over the world (Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, English, etc).

Should we close questions that Google has answers for? I don't think so. Is the answer found in google correct? Can it be understood by the level of expertise of the asker? Is it obsolete, or are there new things to say about it? Is it in the context of the correct genre, style, and time frame? Who is policing and deciding all these variants?

And most importantly, why should it matter? Is it a problem right now, in this SE? I don't think it is. So we would be denying knowledge with the basis of "we just felt like not doing it". Also, don't we already have downvotes to deal with that kind of stuff, based on each user's discretion?

If you browse through the most viewed, voted, and useful questions both here and in Stack Overflow, you'll notice that most of them show zero research effort. So, the assumption that a useful question must contain previous research doesn't hold that well. Some questions definitely do benefit greatly from previous research, but at least in music, I don't think it works as an absolute generalization.

  • Again, it's really not that hard to figure out how to translate a word, or to find a dictionary of musical terms. Oct 24 '19 at 16:08
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    The point is probably that with doing some research (and showing this) before asking your question you show that you appreciate the unpaid effort of the community you ask, because you only asked them after having tried to solve the problem on your own. This has nothing to do with quality of the question (or the answers to it) per se. Oct 24 '19 at 18:41
  • @CarlWitthoft And we are one of the places that will show results for musical terms! If you check the most viewed questions, many of them are of that type. We are supposed to be that site that shows when you search. We are a Q&A designed specifically for that kind of stuff! You are just arbitrarily choosing what we are and what we are not. So much ego! Oct 24 '19 at 21:19
  • @JasperHabicht I feel like we are above "appreciation", as a Q&A site I don't think it's even relevant. I don't feel personally offended for lack of research, and I don't look for personal research when I find an answer in SE, you go straight to the solution(s). You said it yourself, "this has nothing to do with quality", so it's just you asking for some "appreciation". Some questions benefit from it, some not. It's that simple. Oct 24 '19 at 21:22
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    @Lyd To make it clear: I do not personally ask for any kind of appreciation here on SX, but I personally do feel that I should do some prior research before asking not only in order to avoid duplicate questions but also to express my appreciation of the help of the community here. Maybe it’s just my personal feeling though … 🤷 Oct 24 '19 at 21:57
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    @JasperHabicht It is your personal feeling, and that's perfectly fine! But one thing is to prefer previous research (up and down votes), and another one is to require it (closing questions). I just don't see how this SE would benefit from it, or how is it needed. No one here has given an argument that doesn't appeal to emotion. I'm just not buying it. Oct 24 '19 at 22:02

Some questions seem to be from people who know the subject pretty well, but are soliciting a definitive answer for the SE archive And thats fine.

What might be a good idea would be to be a lot more lenient about initialy rejecting questions and responses, but create a seperate Archive section for topics considered worth keeping.

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