Should I be downvoting questions where the question is something along the lines of 'How do I get x' and the answer is a link to the manual page for 'get_x' function?

I feel a bit bad about it, because clearly they're legitimately asking the question, but I can't believe for a second that they searched Google, or Bing, or especially the langauge's documentation.

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    A couple of Stack Exchange sites have a “general reference” close reason for such questions. Extension to other sites including Stack Overflow is being considered. Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 20:08
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    I wouldn't, it's beneficial to StackOverflow to replace such references. Moreover a good answer might explain why and not just how . Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 8:38

3 Answers 3


The down-vote arrow's tooltip now starts:

"This question does not show any research effort".

So going on that alone, yes you should down-vote.

However, it's probably more complicated than that. How easy is it to find and search the official documentation? Has the OP got a spelling mistake (for example) in their code which would mean a search wouldn't find anything? Are they using the wrong term completely? Does the question actually invite a bit of explanation along with the doc link?*

*E.g., "I tried to add multiple items to my list with append() but got the wrong results. What can I do?" could be answered "Use extend()." but an answer really should have a sentence or two about why append() didn't work.

  • How easy is it to find and search the official documentation? If it's msdn then it's for all intent and purposes impossible! I can't believe microsoft can't get their search together.. [/tangent] Commented Jun 12, 2011 at 23:56
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    @Koper: (sorry to drag this up) so why not use Google and "site:msdn.microsoft.com"? If you're not using a good search engine, you probably won't find what you're looking for. Bing has conclusively demonstrated MS has no concept of how search works, so it is not surprising you can't get their search to work.
    – user7116
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 17:36

I don't think any question should be down-voted based on the simplicity of the question or how easily it could have been obtained elsewhere.

Sure it's annoying that some are lazy and don't show an initiative.

But my primary argument for this is simply that no one is forced to provide an answer to such questions.

Additionally, I think that people could also contributed additional hints, more info, references, links, examples, warnings, anecdotes, etc.

But most importantly, down-votes should be reserved for 'BAD' questions and not for asking easy questions, such as "How do I invoke JS alert() method". It's a simple, but it is also a legitimate question!

For example, if a question is "How do I use xyz()" and Google'ing it would bring you to XYZ's API page. It could be of extreme value to anyone to read things like "There is an alternative API to this library, click 'this' link to ABC lib", or "Be careful, this method is NOT thread safe, you could use abc() instead which is!".

I don't know how many times I forgot how to use the simplest JavaScript functions. When I Google it, I'm led to many web sites which I know the answers are buried somewhere deep. But I usually rather click on SO link because I know I'll also find the answer ranked at the top for me... quick and efficient!

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    "it's annoying" - as far as I understand Stack Exchange philosophy somehow assumes stuff that annoys answerers is considered "bad" "We feel that the world is awash in questions, but not answers. ...the only logical thing to do is to maximize the happiness and enjoyment of answerers."
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 18:37
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    You guys are absolutely pathetic! It's not a 'vote' here where by sinking someone's opinion will make sure 'you' are right! You can down-vote to your heart's content, my opinion still will be shared and read. When you answer someone and provide a 'wrong' answer, it's one thing to try and identify that as being wrong. But to voice an opinion is totally different. To wast your time down-voting an opinion says how much you all value your time! Ah well, some have nothing better to do I guess :)
    – Jeach
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 22:54

To be honest, I come to the Stack Exchange network before trying Google quite often. Because Google will just point me to a Stack Exchange question 99% of the time anyway. I don't often use the Search box, instead I hit "Ask Question" and type my title then tab out, if the Suggested Questions doesn't fit the bill I continue posting my question.

So really, I don't think you should be downvoting them.

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    However, the Stack Exchange search isn't as good as the Google one (Google have more resources and have been doing it longer) so your question could well be a) a duplicate and b) easily discoverable via Google anyway. You should search via Google (or Bing) and if nothing comes up - particularly nothing on Stack Overflow then post your question.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 20:11
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    Please don't do this. Use the Google search and the SO search box. The Suggested/Related Questions pop-ups are the very last line of defense against dupes, and they are pretty good, but should not replace real search.
    – jscs
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 20:26
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    I don't mind downvoting but I hate it when they close the question because of downvotes...I was just directed to a closed question that I WANTED to read...gahhhhh. Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 18:23
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    If you can't be bothered to put forth even the tiny amount of effort to google your issue, then every one of your questions deserves to be downvoted.
    – user164207
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 18:57

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