Possible Duplicate:
How should we deal with Google questions?

I am sure that this issue was already raised, but I can't remember the answer. What should I do when I see a question that can be very quickly googled, and it is obvious that the person asking didn't put any effort into asking the question? E.g. What is a best approach to make a function or set of statements thread safe in C#?

  • That's not exactly a dupe. Easy and easily googlable are two different things. – user27414 Sep 2 '09 at 13:20
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    "Embrace the Non-Googlers" meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5280/embrace-the-non-googlers – Sampson Sep 2 '09 at 13:22
  • @Jon B: Yeah, sure. </blatantly sarcasm> – Ladybug Killer Sep 2 '09 at 13:22
  • Let the newbies answer the easy questions! They learn, the poster learns, and admins watch over them with the digital tasers and styluses just in case. If we want SO to grow, we must embrace both larvae and butterfly. Amen Praise The Drive – Caffeinated Oct 10 '11 at 18:05
  • I will say that maybe in the future it'd be nice if we can filter out newbie questions though? Maybe filtering out based on Reputation? So you don't see these types of Q's if you'd rather not? But nevermind it's probably too much effort – Caffeinated Oct 10 '11 at 18:08

You google it, and then answer it. Google should be replaced with SO as the go-to-place for answers regarding programming issues.

Consider the following:

  1. Stackoverflow is a massive wiki
  2. Stackoverflow is a peer-review system
  3. Stackoverflow consists of thousands of professional developers

Stackoverflow can manage answers, correct them, sort them by accuracy, and more. That isn't the case with google-results. Ergo, Stackoverflow is the better choice for any question, regardless how easy or difficult.

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    Well, I still think automated tools like Google should be used where possible instead of abusing the time of other developers. – Grzenio Sep 2 '09 at 13:08
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    @Grzenio: And I still think that you don't get what StackOverflow is. – Eric Sep 2 '09 at 13:09
  • @Grzenio - If it's an easy question, as you suggested, then it's not really going to cost that much time to answer. – Sampson Sep 2 '09 at 13:11

Repeat after me, kids:

We're building a canonical archive of programming answers.


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    We're building a canonical archive of programming answers. – random Sep 2 '09 at 13:09
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    We're building a canonical archive of programming answers. – Randell Sep 2 '09 at 13:10
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    We're building a canon to shoot at programmers. – user27414 Sep 2 '09 at 13:11
  • We're budding a canine to shoot at log-hammers. – Sampson Sep 2 '09 at 13:12
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    We're programming a canon to shoot archives of old answers. – TheTXI Sep 2 '09 at 13:13
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    33333333333333. – George Stocker Sep 2 '09 at 13:15
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    I see you're trying to build a canonical archive of programming answers. You should totally drop that and try jQuery. – Ólafur Waage Sep 2 '09 at 13:17
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    You want a canonical archive of programming answers? Did you try googling it? google.com/… – user27414 Sep 2 '09 at 13:18
  • @Jon B: click the first link! – Ladybug Killer Sep 2 '09 at 13:20
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  • We're billing a maniacal old-hive of programming financiers. Hmm? – Caffeinated Oct 10 '11 at 18:03

The entire idea of StackOverflow is to provide a source where when someone types something into Google, StackOverflow is the first thing that comes up in terms of programming questions. It would look awfully silly for the #1 hit on Google to point to a question where the answer was "Google It!"

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    Unless it was a question about recursion... – user27414 Sep 2 '09 at 13:10

First of all. Do not link to "let me google that for you"

Second, kindly point to links on the subject. Don't put in to much effort in creating an elaborate answer.

  • Its actually very tempting to link to "let me google that for you" :) – Grzenio Sep 2 '09 at 13:05
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    It's just offensive. In many ways. Perhaps the person did google but the keywords used did no good. Since not everyone has the google foo we have. – Ólafur Waage Sep 2 '09 at 13:07
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    Especially if they're only starting out in the topic - they may not know the keywords used in the context to bring up the results that they want. – Margaret Sep 2 '09 at 13:09
  • I'm amazed at how much better Google works when my wife is using it than when I use it. – David Thornley Sep 2 '09 at 15:44
  • The internet is fickle in that if you don't use the right words (especially if you don't know what it is called), sometimes you don't get the right search results. It's not always the fault of a lazy person. – rlb.usa Oct 6 '11 at 18:51

Google is not always the solution. Feel free to google for C# Thread Safety and witness the amount of crap you get - some results are totally wrong (pretty much anything around the use of volatile...) or otherwise unhelpful, and for someone who doesn't know about this topic, it's hard (if not impossible) to find the good ones.


How about this: Google the topic. If a (sufficiently similar) SO question appears in the first page of results, then close it as a dupe. Otherwise, it's a good question.


The existing answers to this question are old, and no longer reflect the current mindset of the team or community.

As Stack Overflow has grown, the number of trivial questions it receives has increased, causing problems for the site's signal-to-noise ratio. As a result, people have become less tolerant of such questions than they were in 2009.

In February 2011, Jeff followed up a podcast with a blog post that asked whether some questions were just too simple for Stack Overflow. It doesn't explicitly come out and say that the answer is yes, but it does close with this:

Allow your Q&A community to fill itself with enough “General Reference” type questions and you’ll soon find no experts there at all.

The team is experimenting with using "General Reference" as a close reason on some sites, with great community support. As of this writing, it hasn't been considered successful enough to be deployed network-wide, but it also hasn't been considered a failure, per Jeff.

Apparently, this was discussed in the week before I posted this answer. See Has a consensus been reached on whether or not some questions are too simple? The answer from Jeff there boils down to "sometimes."

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