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I recently noticed that there's a tooltip for the question upvoting button that begins with "This question shows research effort..."

That got me thinking - if I have a question that I can probably find an answer to somewhere on the web, should I make an effort to find the answer on my own, and not bother posting it on the site?

This may seem sensible, as I'm not creating "duplicate data" on the internet (I have to admit this sounds a little silly, but still), but on the downside I am not expanding the amount of knowledge contained in the site. Also, my question could end up being more eloquent than the one I eventually tracked to get my answer on some other site, making it easier for people to find an answer in the future.

So which is it? If research is enough of a virtue to warrant appearing in the tooltip, then this should probably go in the faq as well (unless it's already there and I've missed it). If it's not, however, then all this tooltip does is make people think twice about posting their question, and not necessarily about the quality of their question.

Of course there's another option, and that is that "research" in the tooltip's context means something else entirely.

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    If we were copying one site it would be bad. If we have to search tons of sites to answer everything we're creating the best place to get an answer – Ivo Flipse Aug 28 '11 at 22:01
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Duplication of content is not a bad thing, as long as we are adding something that makes our answers useful. Better discoverability is one aspect that often makes our answers more useful than other sites, our answers are often clearer and easier to find as they are not buried somewhere in a forum thread. I also would say that on average our answers are just better than on many other gaming sites, and we even have grammar and spelling here.

I would argue that for new games, we are most of the times adding value even if the question may have been answered elsewhere. So I don't think we should require the same research effort like on SO and other technical sites. My impression is that we are limited by the amount of questions asked, not by the capacity of the answerers, so I don't think we should discourage questions as long as they are of good quality.

During our first Community Grant Promotion for the Witcher 2 I pretty much asked a question about any part of the game I had a problem with or was stuck for a while. I did not search extensively for answers before asking the questions, though I looked afterwards to see how we compared in quality to other sites. You could find answers to many of the questions, though the quality was often low, there were some content-farms as first hits for many questions that had barely usable to completely useless content. The rest were posts hidden in some forum threads, often useful but not really great.

Our answers were consistently better than what was available at that time on other sites, so I think the questions were useful, though there was some argument about that.

So, I don't think we should require substantial research effort before asking a question here. As long as the question is well written and about a real problem the user has encountered, I don't care if they tried to find answers before anywhere else.

As for voting, research effort is one of the criteria of a good question, probably not the most important one on our site. I also don't think the tooltip is changeable on a per-site basis.

  • You don't explain why "research effort is one of the criteria of a good question". Secondly, I believe the fact that the tooltip can't be changed is hurting our site, because I don't believe research effort is necessary—or at least I wouldn't call it research effort—and it leads to undeserved downvotes. – NiteCyper Aug 10 '16 at 19:36
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I totally agree with what Fabian said. I wanted to add a bit on the interpretation of that phrase, though.

To my mind, it means basic research. In other words, don't ask "What is StarCraft II?" Google it. Also make sure you understand the area you're talking about. On StackOverflow, this might mean not asking about your Java bug while you're learning the language — experiment a bit, take some tutorials, then ask.

For Gaming, I think putting "research" into the question could be as simple as saying "Here's what I tried". Asking how to get past an obstacle without even having tried jumping over it or hacking at it with your sword or something isn't a good idea. If one of those works, your question will be simple and boring, and no one else will have the same problem.

  • That's actually a really good point! – Aubergine Aug 29 '11 at 15:11

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