A similar question about the Google Image function has been asked, and I feel this is somewhat related.

A lot of questions that people ask can be fairly simply resolved with a simple Google search. Yes, I understand that. However, I feel that (like in the linked question above) the common practice of "Google is a powerful tool, use it" or "Here let me Google that for you" should probably be addressed.

One such thing that I personally do, is quite simply do the Google search, then copy and paste the answer from the chosen wiki etc, like I have done here or here

How should we deal with these types of questions?

  • 9
    If I'm honest, I have never really seen an issue with questions that can be answered relatively quickly with a Google search. Even if it's really easy to answer this way, it will still bring traffic here once it's up, won't it?
    – GnomeSlice
    Jan 29, 2015 at 2:03
  • 2
    We will allow questions that are easily googled, but I don't think they should expect a very good reception.
    – Frank
    Jan 29, 2015 at 2:15
  • 7
    I think we can encourage people to help themselves without being stand-offish about it. There's a difference between saying "-1, this can be found easily with a Google search" and "On the [wiki](link) it states <blah>, did you miss this in your initial search?" Sure, it's a passive way to say "do your homework", but it comes off less hostile/elitist. There are people on the other end of those questions, and on Arqade it's safe to say the average demographic sits below the drinking age, meaning a lot of them are still in school learning how to cite sources & perform research.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Jan 29, 2015 at 6:31
  • 2
    I agree that it can often be difficult to formulate a query to find what you are looking for on Google, and a lot of people have not learned how to do it. That being said, if I Google the exact question they asked and the answer is in the first couple of links, it's a pretty clear sign that they did basically no research before asking. Of course, that's what question downvotes are for. Jan 29, 2015 at 7:17
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    @murgatroid99 - Downvotes yes, after all it does say "This question does not show any research effort" in the downvote tooltip. But it is possible to downvote and answer, or downvote & leave a polite comment. Also: not everyone is a native-english speaker and might find it harder to search in English (or was unable to find results in their own language)
    – Robotnik Mod
    Jan 29, 2015 at 7:31
  • I'm not saying that the questions shouldn't be answered, and I definitely wasn't trying to say that people should be rude in comments. My point (expressed somewhat circuitously) was that this is just another kind of unresearched question, and we already have a system for dealing with those. Jan 29, 2015 at 7:57
  • 4
    I've seen cases where searching for something gives a top result on SO where the comments on that question criticize it for lack of searching. Point being, not everywhere else on the internet is as trustworthy or easily found as SE sites.
    – Batophobia
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:24
  • I have to say thank you for referencing me, but without easily googlable (I don't know if that is correct or not) questions I wouldn't have my highest upvoted question. Albeit that the question should be removed because of the POOR effort, it still deserved an answer.
    – Cole Busby
    Jan 30, 2015 at 23:55
  • @ColeBusby That's a contradiction. It doesn't make sense to say that a question should be removed and that we should answer it. We can only do one or the other. Jan 31, 2015 at 0:29
  • I disagree with OP's opinion and attitude. Even if an answer can be found by google you should put your own extensive research into it so it's a worthy and unique piece of information within the StackExchange network. Otherwise, you're wasting your time. We have computers to copy data from point A to point B. Feb 3, 2015 at 3:54
  • Another useful thing to know is this: About 50% badges I received for view count on questions were on questions that were duplicate. It's not that I didn't google. I just phrased my question differently. And according to the view count and questions position on google, I wasn't alone to use that phrasing. Feb 3, 2015 at 3:58
  • 1
    @TomášZato that was not the opinion I was attempting to put across. Yes, my approach to these questions could be considered abrupt or rude, but that is what I am attempting to put forward here, how can we handle this better?
    – Ben
    Feb 3, 2015 at 9:42
  • Incidentally, if all an answer is is a straight copy and paste from elsewhere, even when it's sourced, it's pretty darn low quality. Every answer should at least make an attempt to summarize or clarify the information they've copied.
    – Frank
    Feb 10, 2015 at 21:06

3 Answers 3


If you think the asker didn't put enough research effort in, then by all means downvote, that's what downvotes are for. However it's still helpful to answer their questions - either as you would with any other question, or by doing as you have and giving them the answer they'd have got by asking Google and not us.

Do consider though - maybe they did ask Google and weren't happy with the answer. Maybe it didn't give enough detail or wasn't clear enough, or seemed to answer the question but was actually addressing a related but different question. I tend to assume good faith (that the asker isn't lazy, but that they want a better answer than what is available with just a quick Google search).

The benefits of doing this are many - we foster a greater sense of community and make people more welcome, we affirm people's opinion of the site as a source of expert information, and we continue towards the goal of making this a comprehensive resource for people with questions about video games.

  • 3
    Another thing to note, as the experts of gaming, we likely know the keywords to use when searching while the asker doesn't.
    – Batophobia
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:19
  • Also, I can say from personal experience I've done a google search to no avail, and then while writing a question realized that the subject might provide better results than my previous searches. When that's happened I've scrapped my Q before posting it, but that final step may not occur to everyone.
    – aslum
    Jan 30, 2015 at 20:04
  • On other stack exchanges, googleable questions are something actively punished, because their existence drives away experts who are looking for good questions to answer. I like that policy elsewhere; for cases where Google had an answer that wasn't good enough, it should be the question-asker's responsibility to explain what they tried and why the result wasn't up to scratch. Jan 31, 2015 at 4:59

While it doesn't apply to every case, the way you phrase a Google search can have a big impact on the results. Probably half of the time that I'm in a situation like that, they did try Google first and it simply didn't return any useful results. Before discounting them, consider the possibility that what comes naturally for one person's search terms (even when it does seem really obvious) isn't always what other people come up with. So when I answer a question like that, I usually try to include in my response what I put in the search bar and why (if it's not clear).

A good example is the "how do I ..." search phrase for questions; it seems an obvious first search try nowadays because it's so common, but definitely was not always this way, especially if you've never used it before. The corollary is true as well, sometimes "how do I ..." searches return no useful results, but simply entering a few key words relating to the topic / question will; and knowing which keywords to choose and how to phrase them is an acquired skill.

I tend to think of it as, if the question is that easy to Google search that the answer can be copy-pasted, then why not help out just in case, since it takes such little time to do anyway. And if it's one that's slightly more in-depth, then the odds are even greater that the results they found didn't answer their question in the way they were hoping, or that they were unable to find one, and that your response would be helpful to them. In either case, showing how you found the answer helps them learn how to do it better next time; "teach a man to fish".

That and the fact that StackExchange is pretty common to see on the search results list, so your answer might help other people too if Googling a similar question, sometimes years down the line.

  • "I Googled 'Mom crying alone' and it came up with some weird results..."
    – Ben
    May 31, 2015 at 22:37

This site is meant to be the top result found through Google, and to be the go-to place for all video game questions. Turning away questions because they have answers on other sites is counter to both of those goals.

Take a look at our most viewed questions. Most likely, they could have all been answered by googling at the time they were asked. But if no one had asked them here, we would lost a huge amount of new-user traffic, not to mention valuable questions that a lot of people are interested in. That's a loss-loss for us.

Relevent meta discussions:
How should we deal with Google questions?
Is it bad to ask google searchable questions on Stack Overflow
Should I ask a question that is easily Google-able?

  • If the main reason we should accept these questions is to drive traffic to the site, we're going to lose those most valuable to the site: experts. Going, "Hey, this increases our traffic" misses the point of experts sticking around because interesting and valuable questions are asked. It should be a part of the judgement, yes, but it certainly should not be the primary, nor only, argument.
    – Frank
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:43
  • @Frank: You seem to be completely misinterpreting my answer? I'm not saying we should accept bad questions for the sake of traffic. I'm saying we shouldn't reject a question based on whether it already has an answer on a different site. Jan 29, 2015 at 22:47
  • I don't believe I am, no. You are saying that we should allow any and every question, regardless of their googleability, and you argue that we should because we got lots of new users through it. ie: "Welcome them all because it gives us more traffic and users". Take a look at the highest voted answer on your third link; it specifically says we shouldn't accept questions that are easily googled. I don't mind allowing and answering questions that demonstrate a complete lack of effort, but we should certainly be downvoting them, and doing it hard, to show our stance on such simple questions.
    – Frank
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:52
  • Actually, the top voted answers on both your first and third links say we shouldn't accept them. So now I'm confused; you argue we should be allowing these simple questions, and your supporting evidence specifically says we shouldn't be.
    – Frank
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:55
  • @Frank I'm not sure how to respond to that. You seem dead-set on arguing against a position that I'm not arguing for. Jan 29, 2015 at 23:04
  • This answer has all the wrong reasons for a right answer. Being number 1 on google is our top priority is wrong by Se and everyone who founded and supports it.
    – Virusboy
    Jan 31, 2015 at 0:09

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