It has been established in "Embrace the non-Googlers" that we shouldn't be attacking users (especially new users) for asking questions that can be easily answered by a quick internet search.

However, the tooltip on the question downvote button reads "This question does not show any research effort". The way I see it, this tooltip explicitly recommends downvoting non-Googlers. Isn't this a direct contradiction of longstanding policy?

If we're not supposed to tell people to go google questions themselves, why does the tooltip urge us to downvote people for not googling?

If we want to embrace non-Googlers, shouldn't the tooltip change, so that people can't use it as an excuse for DVing people who haven't really done anything wrong?

Edit: The question that inspired this post: What are the Flood?

  • 6
    A couple quick problems I see in your question: 1) Downvoting is not the same as attacking users. The question you linked seems to be more about the "LMGTFY" link problem a while back, which was an attack on the user. Downvotes are instead about the quality of the post. If the post shows no effort and to me looks like a lazy question, I have the right to downvote it. I have no issue with the user, just with the post. 2) "... DVing people who haven't really done anything wrong?" As I touched on in my previous point, downvotes are not for punishing users, just signalling quality..
    – Kendra
    May 10, 2016 at 21:22
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    Can there not be a place between these two extremes? Every site, I think, has some limitation on the triviality of a question for it to be considered as valuable to the site. There's a difference between LMGTFY and someone not doing basic research to even determine if their question is based on facts.
    – Catija
    May 10, 2016 at 21:33
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    Also note that research does not necessarily require googling something. For example, if I'm asking on SO about how to fix an error, my "research" could be as simple as "Here's the error I'm getting. I tried x, y, and z, and those didn't work because j." with x, y, and z being different code samples of things I've tried, and j either being a new error I get or an incorrect output. I'd have a decent question, and I may never have googled the issue.
    – Kendra
    May 10, 2016 at 21:41
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    If a read a question, and Google a solution myself, and the solution is the first result how is that question helpful. Often times that link goes back to (SO,SU, ect); Yes I understand that viewpoint isnt popular but when you literally see the same question every day it's hard not to form that view.
    – Ramhound
    May 10, 2016 at 22:24
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    And, having the "x, y, and z" @Kendra mentioned means that we won't be wasting our time suggesting them. Not providing that info to people who are volunteering their time to help an anonymous person with their problem is kinda rude.
    – user1228
    May 11, 2016 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


"Lack of research" is a crippling problem for these sites because it destroys the very thing that allows them to scale: re-use. In theory, a question (once answered) need not be asked again; future researchers may benefit from the work put into answering it. But if no research is performed, then the question will be asked again and again, the knowledge it demands scraped thin over their slothful bones.

Note though that this still requires every question to be asked at least once; realistically, many questions can be expressed in a variety of terms that don't directly lead to each other, so establishing both a "canonical" question and a wealth of variations that are marked "duplicate" to point to the first is important for enabling researchers as well.

So what does this have to do with downvoting? Well... Ideally, even that first question shows its research. Even if that's little more than, "I searched google for 'hallo parasytes' and couldn't find anything about The Deluge".

Failing that, a few downvotes are to be expected. Which may sting a bit, but isn't the end of the world; if the question is valuable, it will attract good answers and a plethora of future readers whose appreciation will overwhelm the downvotes. If the question fails to produce anything useful, then like the floaters in the river Styx of Dante's Inferno, these poor souls are damned to stew forever in the ignorance wrought by their unwillingness to perform even the most research.


Your assumption seems to be that "research" means Googling. It does not. A question might show a lack of research if

  • it's a "my code no work" wall of code with no suggestion that the user has tried to narrow down where the problem is coming from
  • it's a "do my homework" wall of text with no "i was thinking of looping through all the entries and" -level design, never mind the start of some code
  • it's a question that's been asked on the same site many times and was doubtless presented in the list above the question box while the question was being composed
  • it is missing information that the user should have been expected to discover and include in the question (compiler version, whether it happens all the time or just this once, and so on)

There are many things that can be wrong with a question that match "lack of research" - I don't care whether the asker Googled or not but I do care if they put in the effort that's necessary to make a question that can be usefully answered.

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