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Some questions on Stack Overflow could be answered with a minimal amount of leg-work and research by the poster. The questions are either trivial, such as "How do I print a number as hex instead of decimal?" or are extensively covered by tutorials and articles both on Stack Overflow and the web at large ("How do I write a simple template in C++?"), or both.

As we all know, LMGTFY answers are banned on Stack Exchange. There are some very good reasons for that which are well-covered in the discussions here on Meta.

Many of these questions, despite being so easy that the poster should have found the answers with 5 seconds of searching, do have good answers here, and recurring questions can easily be marked as duplicates. This seems perfectly appropriate where possible. The more general questions ("How do I learn C?") can be closed as Too Broad.

But I feel like there is a gap between "Duplicate" and "Too Broad" that is not covered by any existing close reason. Sometimes the question is specific, extensively covered by outside material, and yet not covered on Stack Overflow. I really miss the old "demonstrate a minimal understanding" close reason, which partially covered this gap.

Now that it's gone, though, what should we do with questions like this? Questions where there's no exact match on SO, but where you can find an answer yourself in 5 seconds by searching Google?

If the question doesn't have an exact match, should we just answer it anyway -- in the spirit of "building a knowledge base" -- even if that basically means quoting stuff from reference material that could be found in 5 seconds of Googling? Or is there perhaps room for a new close reason to cover this kind of thing? How much hand-holding do we want Stack Overflow's body of work to do?

marked as duplicate by Shog9 Mar 3 '14 at 19:36

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • @MartijnPieters I may not have phrased it well enough, but I think my question is a bit different. The "what have you tried?" phenomenon applies more to questions that say "I want to do X." I'm thinking more of questions that are asked correctly, and are specific, but which I could answer by plugging the question into Google, pressing "I'm Feeling Lucky" and copy-pasting the text. – TypeIA Mar 3 '14 at 16:51
  • I feel the issue is the same; if the research effort is clearly missing, the OP didn't do their homework, didn't even try. But I see your point. – Martijn Pieters Mar 3 '14 at 16:52
  • Pardon my ignorance, but what happens to strongly-downvoted questions? Is there a vote count or time threshold when a post is automatically deleted? Or would such downvoted questions linger and just clutter up the database? – TypeIA Mar 3 '14 at 17:19
  • 1
    @dvnrrs Yes, questions with a negative score an no positively scored answers are deleted after a week(?). Zero scored questions are deleted after a year. – Servy Mar 3 '14 at 17:22

Downvote such questions. That's what downvoting is for, to identify questions that lack research effort (or effort in general). Lack of research effort was never a valid reason for closing a question.

I've watched people put comments on such questions, but most of them are not helpful. LGMTFY comments are only helpful in a snarky way. If you're going to comment, you should attempt to communicate politely, in a way that helps the OP use the site better. If you're not so inclined, a downvote without explanation is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

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