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Although there are posts relating to 'just google it' answers, which seem to look on it as bad style (maybe 70/30), I haven't found a specific feature request.

I'd like to see a feature that pops up a message discouraging direct links to search engines.

I'm not suggesting blocking links to google, because there may well be valid times for doing this, for example if someone is showing a problem query, or illustrating styles for google results.

Similarly, I don't think it would be practical to screen on google as a keyword, as there are many legitimate uses (names of Google products and services).

The more technical arguments about 'google it answers' being bad are:

  1. These answers get top ranking in search results, hiding real answers
  2. Searching is easier when you know the answer (and hence the keywords)
  3. Search results change over time (and location), so what works for the answerer may not work for the reader (or later readers)
  4. Sites listed in answers go away, or lose ranking. While the dead-site issue is also a problem for direct links, SO could purge dead links, but not dead searches.

Feedback welcome

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@YOU I didn't find that in my searches for previous posts, however feature #2 is the more important. I'll think on this and edit appropriately. –  Phil Lello Apr 16 '11 at 19:36
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The primary mechanism for discouraging such answers is crushing them under a hail of downvotes. If you have any current examples I'd be happy to sacrifice a few rep to the effort. –  dmckee Apr 16 '11 at 19:42
    
I don't have current examples, as it doesn't annoy me enough to keep track of. However, I think I normally see this in comments rather than answers, so downvoting isn't an option (and bad style isn't a reason to flag for a mod) –  Phil Lello Apr 16 '11 at 19:59
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@Phil: Flagging a comment is different from flagging for moderator attention. Feel free to do it when you think a comment is out of line. –  dmckee Apr 16 '11 at 20:50
    
With all due respect, I don't think this is a duplicate of the lmgtfy article - I edited the lmgtfy part of the post a full hour before it was closed as duplicate (or the duplicate comment was inserted). Additionally, I'm specifically suggesting a feature to discourage (not prevent) certain styles of answer - the suggested duplicate is a discussion of style, not a proposal for a middle-ground solution –  Phil Lello Apr 17 '11 at 1:51
    
@Phil the question was re-opened. –  Pëkka Apr 18 '11 at 8:06
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can you provide specific examples of the types of posts you are referring to? I'm having a hard time understanding what you mean without concrete examples. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 18 '11 at 9:40
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I disagree strongly with limiting the ability to paste Google links into comments in any way. There is a category of brain-dead, exceedingly trivial questions, that can be answered by a link to the proper, authoritative page in the respective manual ("How do I replace a string in PHP?"). In those cases - and only those! - informing the OP of the existence of search engines is perfectly okay in my eyes.

Sometimes, it is right to comment "Just Google it" and a (polite) RTFM in the form of a manual link. Not always, mind, and it's always good to err on the lenient side. But sometimes, it really is.

Answers consisting of just a Google link or a mere RTFM are not okay, for the reasons you state. But as @dmckee points out, those are usually downvoted into the ground anyway.

Current example where the user should have searched SO

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Wouldn't the trivial questions all have duplicates by now? –  Peter Mortensen Apr 16 '11 at 22:34
    
I wasn't suggesting blocking the ability, just that a popup should appear, along the lines of 'Are you sure?' Perhaps I wasn't clear that I expected the poster to still be able to say 'Yes, I want to do this'. –  Phil Lello Apr 17 '11 at 1:45
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I disagree with "RTFM" ever being an answer. It's fine as a comment, but as an answer it should include some useful information, like a link to the documentation page that includes the answer (that is to say, not a link to the documentation's TOC). –  Gabe Apr 17 '11 at 2:56
    
@Gabe I didn't mean to defend RTFM answers, just comments. I fixed the wording –  Pëkka Apr 17 '11 at 5:25
    
@Phil but to what end? Truly offensive comments can be flagged. Everything else is fair game in comments IMO. –  Pëkka Apr 17 '11 at 6:12
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The problem, asking really basic questions, already has a solution: closure. Tons of dumb questions by systemic problem users has a solution too: bans on asking questions. RTFM/LMGTFY is just a crass and anachronistic throwback to when lording over newbies was considered cool. Everyone was a newbie once, and everyone asks really dumb questions once in a while: RTFM/Google links don't change that, and they add no value to an answer or a comment. –  user149432 Apr 18 '11 at 8:17
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Some of the most useful answers to my questions have been links to Google search results.

Often knowing what something is called and knowing the terms to search for is 90% of the problem.

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That might be true, but ask yourself a question: How often have you found on your searches through the web the suggestion to search it on the web? Personally, I'm sick of seeing that. We're here to provide answers, not clues or breadcrumbs. –  Time Traveling Bobby Apr 18 '11 at 12:01
    
@Bobby when I have a problem, I want it solved. It it helps other people great, but a quick clues or breadcrumbs is often worth more to me then a "full" answers that comes later. However the voting system will get the full answer to the top, so other people an find it. –  Ian Ringrose Apr 18 '11 at 12:48
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