Often answers to questions can be found in either product documentation or by asking Google. That being said, is it poor etiquette to ask the same question on SO if a simple Google search could have yielded potential answers or you just need to RTFM?

I only ask this because I recently asked a question on SO that, when Googled for, could have the answer found on the product manufacturer's Website which was the first result link. The documentation was long but it still had the answer contained within it. I asked it on SO so I could get a concise, straight to the point answer. The answer I ended up getting was along the lines of:

"I Googled your question, here is the link to the first result."

I took the response as an indication that my question might be a bad one. I am confused though because I somewhat view SO as a "programmer's google" where I can search for answers to programming related problems. I have made SO my default place to search first and when I don't find an answer, I ask and then I Google. Let me know what you think...

  • 1
    Welcome to SO, Gweebz! You might want to check out the FAQ entry on what some people, for lack of a better term, call "Google questions." – Pops Jun 3 '10 at 19:58

Yes, the question should be asked and answered on StackOverflow, so Google can find it here in addition to (and perhaps also in preference to) the answers out there.

(This of course is subject to the quality of the question etc. We don't want StackOverflow to be full of garbage questions. My point is that just because the answer is already known and is available, doesn't mean that the question itself must be garbage).


You should always Google first, because the Google search will find duplicates on Stack Overflow (if they exist), which means we won't have to vote to close your unnecessary questions.

  • This is a bit off-topic; the OP is asking about easily answered questions which nevertheless are not dupes on SO. – Pops Jun 3 '10 at 19:56
  • @Popular Unless he searches first, how will he know they are not dupes? Google is MUCH better at finding things on SO than the SO search. and if there is perfectly good result from Google, such as a Wikipedia article, I cannot see the point of duplicating it on SO. – nb69307 Jun 3 '10 at 20:01
  • 1
    @Neil: I agree with Google searching to see if a suitable question is already on SO, but one goal of SO is to have its own answers to questions. I'd say that if you find an answer on SO, don't ask, but if it's on Wikipedia or elsewhere you may ask. – David Thornley Jun 3 '10 at 20:14
  • 1
    @David That is a "goal" of the site's owners, not necessarily of the site's users. If there is good Wikipedia article on a subject I see no value from my point of view in having a duplicate on SO. For example, I always refer C++ questions about double-dispatch to the pedia article. – nb69307 Jun 3 '10 at 20:18

It's fine to ask a question that can be answered by a Google search, since SO is supposed to be a repository of programming knowledge. Just because that knowledge appears somewhere else doesn't mean it shouldn't be here.

However, keep in mind that writing a good question involves citing prior work, so to speak. If you know or find out that some other site has the answer you're looking for, it would be good to include a link, or perhaps the relevant part of the other site's text (if it's not too long and under an appropriate license). You could either put this in the question itself, or if you suspect that what you've found is actually the best answer, you can write it up as an answer to your own question.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .