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When faced with a simple question, some users respond with comments that say something like, "You should have Googled it" and nothing else. These are often upvoted a few times as well. Is it appropriate to flag those comments as noise, or respond with "No, it should be part of SO as well", or should I just be ignoring those comments? Perhaps there's another option I'm missing as well.

An example: in response to What is the third value in CSS padding? the first comment is "Really? Google couldn't answer this one for you?"

Related: How to deal with Google questions

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possible duplicate of Ban lmgtfy (let me google that for you) links –  Adam Davis Jan 24 '11 at 16:31
@Pollyanna - definitely a related question, but I think addressing the more general "You should have Googled" comment attitude is still needed instead of the specific "sarcastic link in an answer" problem that the "Ban lmgtfy" question discusses. –  jball Jan 24 '11 at 16:34
@jball - Other questions which are essentially the same as this one, such as meta.stackexchange.com/questions/21875/… are regularly closed as dupes of the ban lmgtfy. This is due to the fact that the root of your question is the same - is "google it" or "let me google that for you" a valid answer or comment? –  Adam Davis Jan 24 '11 at 16:39
SO converts lmgtfy to google :( . That used to be the best way to deal with some questions like RTFM for example. –  Reno Jan 24 '11 at 16:39
@jball - Perhaps you can explain why your question would and should elicit different answers than those other questions, it may help us understand what is different about this question. –  Adam Davis Jan 24 '11 at 16:40
@Reno, what do you mean with "SO converts lmgtfy to google"? (I thought SO was only blocking those links?) –  Arjan Jan 24 '11 at 16:50
@Pollyanna, the other questions are definitely discussing how to deal with the same underlying attitude, but the context is different. If it's not a "lmgtfy" link or an answer, the other discussions do not deal with what the response to "google it" comments should be. Thus I expect this question to be unique in dealing with whether flagging, responding, or ignoring such "google it" comments is the best for the community and our goals in the long run. –  jball Jan 24 '11 at 17:09
@jball - The context is only very slightly different, and I disagree that the response should be different. Flag "google it" answers, flag "google it" comments. All posts, comment or not, should provide useful, actionable information. Everything else is noise. –  Adam Davis Jan 24 '11 at 17:14
@Pollyanna - my only question then is where is the "flag 'google it' comments" answer on the other questions? One answer starts to deal with "lmgtfy" comments but the comments under it are conflicting. The other discussions point out that it's not polite, but I did not see them dealing with comments. I think the big problem is that comments reinforce similar feelings amongst other users, and so if they are not addressed, there will be a growing trend of "You should google" comments... –  jball Jan 24 '11 at 17:25
@Pollyanna - the other part of that is that users commonly use comments for things that are not appropriate as answers, so just because something is explicitly dealt with in the realm of appropriateness as an answer, the question of its appropriateness in the comments is still open. –  jball Jan 24 '11 at 17:27

4 Answers 4

up vote 18 down vote accepted

I think those should be flagged with prejudice. If the answer is on Stack Overflow already, then mark as duplicate.

If you Google something and SO isn't the #1 hit, then it should be asked! That way, next week, SO is #1.

Don't get me wrong, I also find horribly simple questions annoying - but at least they can only be asked once. "How do I increment value in c#" doesn't seem to add a lot of value to SO, and in my opinion will drive away true expert answerers.. when 95% of the questions are like that or "send me the codes" why stick around? But that is a different problem, and alienating newcomers with RTFM or LMGTFY comments/answers won't solve it - and will probably just make things worse.

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"If you Google something and SO isn't the #1 hit, then it should be asked!" Believe it or not, there are other sites that are more authoritative than SO. For example, for CSS, that would be this one. –  Powerlord Jan 24 '11 at 22:28

I usually flag them, they aren't appropriate at all. The more questions we have, the more traffic we get. If the question is on topic and does not duplicate another, it should be welcomed.

People have the option of simply not answering if they feel that the OP did not put in enough effort. Sometimes, especially for beginners, just figuring out what to search for can be difficult. For instance, how do you search for how to use the modulus or ternary operators if you don't know what they're called? SO is the ultimate tool for people studying programming independently.

I really can't stand the RTFM attitude, especially on a Q&A site. Besides, it's hard enough to get people to search SO prior to asking :)

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Too subjective answer, Tim :( You got the point, but still it is WAY TOO SUBJECTIVE. Besides - Question here is not about SO or its goals / traffic etc. - Questions is about faCT IF rtfm / ltmgty actually helps and if not - what is best way to eliminate them ( in their root, I assume ). –  HX_unbanned Jan 25 '11 at 16:56
@HX_unbanned - I think every addition to the site should be constructive, comments included. Asking someone if they bothered to Google first is not constructive, it is most often rhetorical. It doesn't add anything constructive. However, if you said something like "I just Googled [term] and found this [link]", you would be constructive while getting your point across. –  Tim Post Jan 26 '11 at 9:05

Answer to this Question depends on Policy of Stack Overflow.

  • If SO is forcing people for self-initiative, then LMGTFY and RTFM is valid ones and should be added simply because Human MUST think. Call it as evolution and natural selection, but it does not change the fact that Google should be used. Reason why Question author does not use it Nowdays cannot be that he/she do not know what Google is.

  • iF SO is intended to deliver as fast and as high quality answer, therefore sacrificing nerves and patient of Answerers ( Professionals in Programming Language or any other way ). then these Google links should be banned without doubt. You see it - you DELETE it. Thas it!

  • If so wants to keep balanced in this manner, there should be very visible Warining tool tip asking "Have you done Google / Bink / Yahoo! searching before posting this Question?". If user claims he have done it and still there is such links and they actually show that answer is in first page of google saerch - the precedent is valid and author should be notified about such stuff.

This is how I see this issue.

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There is a limit in triviality above which "Have you tried Google" or "This has dozens of duplicates on SO" comments are justified IMO. Stack Overflow isn't aiming to become a repository of 2,000 variations of "How do I concatenate a string in PHP" type questions.

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Shouldn't those questions be closed as duplicates rather than receiving a "Google it" comment? If the first permutation should not have a "google it" comment, then it seems that none of the other permutations should have that comment either. –  jball Jan 24 '11 at 17:48
@jball in theory, yes. My deeper point is that SO has a tendency of enabling laziness. Sometimes - not always! - when somebody asks a really trivial, brain-dead question, the natural reaction is: "Dude. Did you really, really have to litter the site with this question, which can be looked up within seconds?" I'm against censoring that reaction in every case. Sometimes - again, not always - it just a truth that needs to be said. –  Pëkka Jan 24 '11 at 17:56
So too trivial would be kind of like 'bad subjective' ... you can't quite define it but you know it when you see it? –  Tim Post Jan 24 '11 at 18:09
I agree with your general sentiment, but "Have you tried Google?" isn't the same as "This has dozens of dupes on SO." –  Pops Jan 24 '11 at 19:25
Almost every time you ask "have you tried Google?" you are asking a rhetorical question. You know the person didn't. It's better to just Google the term and say "I found [this link] by searching for [term] on Google." That gets your point across while being constructive. –  Tim Post Jan 26 '11 at 9:10

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