Possible Duplicate:
Introduce a “general reference” close reason

Related: Closing 'easy' questions - yes or no?

Stack Overflow gets flooded with questions of extremely basic things.

Just some quick examples of recent questions:

These questions show zero research effort and are not useful for the professional community of Stack Overflow. Although the above-mentioned question comes to the conclusion that it's wrong to close them, they do get closed all the time, even by diamond moderators:

Taking that in consideration, they should be flagged. However, there's no valid flag for them.

The current flags, and why they don't fit:

it needs moderator attention.

This doesn't seem like something to bother moderators with, especially since there's so many of these overly easy posts.

exact duplicate

Granted, most of these kind of questions are duplicates, but even the originals should be closed, really. Besides, this is not the real reason you're flagging at all.

off topic

Questions on Stack Overflow are expected to generally relate to programming or software development in some way, within the scope defined in the faq.

They are not off topic. These sort of questions quite obviously relate to software development.

not constructive

This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

The specific expertise bit comes close to the issue, but it says "or". They're asking for facts and in a way, specific expertise as well, just not very impressive expertise. These sort of questions don't solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. In fact, the answers and comments are generally a bit dull on easy questions.

not a real question

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

This usually ends up being the close reason, but they are real questions. It's actually extremely simple to tell what's being asked.

too localized

This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.

It's the exact opposite of too localized, it's the stuff everyone uses and knows.

it is spam

This question is effectively an advertisement with no disclosure. It is not useful or relevant, but promotional.


it is not welcome in our community

This question contains content that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or hate speech.

Unless people are offended by the waste of time, nope.

I can only imagine that the effect of this missing flag is that more people will think it's okay to ask easy questions without even a single google search. Plus, when the questions do get closed, the OPs won't understand why, because the close reason doesn't describe their question at all.

Plus, people will decide not to flag because of this. I know I do, sometimes.

Edit: I just tried to compose a draft for a description of the flag, but it turns out to be complicated to properly describe the level of simplicity of an issue. I'll not risk posting any unfortunate phrases.

  • 11
    Flagged as "Way too easy for meta" :)
    – Benjol
    Dec 7, 2011 at 9:15
  • @Benjol: How does that even work? XD Oh, that does point out an issue in this name, it's not just Stack Overflow that flags questions. Editing title...
    – Aberrant
    Dec 7, 2011 at 9:18
  • 2
    There is a proposal for a "general reference" close reason here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/86043/… I don't see why this is getting downvoted when the same idea is garnering over a hundred upvotes elsewhere. Dec 7, 2011 at 9:47
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn: The wording. There's a difference between "You're too dumb for us" and "You should have searched harder". Dec 7, 2011 at 9:55
  • @Bobby: Heh, fair enough. Dec 7, 2011 at 9:56
  • 1
    @ Bobby: That's why I added "or something similar" to the title, I picked this particular wording so that it's obvious what I mean. What the flag would actually be called isn't relevant to me, I bet Stack Exchange has people who are much better at picking the right words for such a flag than I am.
    – Aberrant
    Dec 7, 2011 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


There is already a similar mechanism: Downvote.

Quote from the Downvote-Tooltip:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful (click again to undo)

Too easy questions lack either research or are not useful.

  • 1
    Downvotes don't attract attention for closing, though. In fact, they do the exact opposite, they make it harder to find the question.
    – Aberrant
    Dec 7, 2011 at 9:49
  • 2
    And? Not every bad question should be closed. Bad questions are bad questions, closed questions are closed questions. They're a completely different pair of boots. Dec 7, 2011 at 9:52
  • 1
    And if the question is hard to find, there is no pollution for the SO user. Dec 7, 2011 at 10:11
  • 4
    @Aberrant downvotes are even more effective, if a user collects too many he's effectively locked out of asking questions. What else could you ask for?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Dec 7, 2011 at 10:31
  • @Ivo Flipse: That's news to me, I suppose downvotes work pretty well then! Edit: Although that does still allow these questions to pile up in downvote land...
    – Aberrant
    Dec 7, 2011 at 11:52
  • 1
    @Aberrant: No one cares about downvote land. It's like the Twilight Zone...no one goes there and those who go there can either stand it or...well, technically there's no "or". Dec 7, 2011 at 12:05

There is a general reference close reason on some other sites.

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.

I guess it covers pretty much what you described.

  • @BoltClock's a Unicorn (included for also mentioning it): Ah, I looked for 'simple', 'easy', 'basic', I didn't try 'general'. I thought it was weird no one mentioned this before.
    – Aberrant
    Dec 7, 2011 at 10:01
  • @Aberrant: And I thought that it also exists on SO. It's been on SciFi.SE for a while. Dec 7, 2011 at 10:06

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