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I use many SE sites and it is unclear to me if if prior research is a must in all network sites.

I believe prior research is generally needed as it can help users learn new things and also ensures quality of content which helps SEO and expanding the community.

Is prior research a must in all network sites (if not - why not)?

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This is what the Help Center says:

How do I ask a good question?

We’d love to help you. To improve your chances of getting an answer, here are some tips:

Search, and research

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

This does not make prior research a must, but it does show why it's highly preferred. Some sites in the network do (or did) require prior research, and explicitly place questions which lack it out of scope. This is an arbitrary question but Mathematics doesn't seem to have this particular close reason anymore:

This question is missing context or other details: Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it. This information helps others identify where you have difficulties and helps them write answers appropriate to your experience level.

Other sites which still have a similar policy are Physics and Chemistry:

Some kinds of questions aren't allowed here:

  • Do-my-homework questions: Homework questions are OK, but they must follow these guidelines. Please don't ask "do my homework for me" type questions – we only clear conceptual doubts in homework questions and will not do your work for you.

Obviously, for some sites, e.g. Puzzling, prior research doesn't make sense (for most questions). And sometimes, a short, well-written question without research does receive good answers.

  • Puzzling is probably distinct in that the asker doesn't show their prior research---but I'd argue they still need to do prior research to come up with an interesting question. – Rebecca J. Stones Feb 12 at 11:29
  • Mathematics got rid of the close reason because with the update it just appeared that the question was being closed as off topic, with no further details, which the moderators felt didn't make sense. I never liked the close reason anyway. – Matt Samuel Feb 12 at 12:25
  • It's probably worth mentioning that lack of evidence for prior research is mentioned on the tooltip as an explicit reason for downvoting questions on all SE sites. – sempaiscuba Feb 13 at 22:56
  • 7 years of experience with many communities in which I never saw an explicit rule musting prior research and discussing a possible must although never saw it but demand is growing is enough prior research and no one should be "puzzeled" IMO. – JohnDoea Feb 14 at 4:07

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