A 'General Reference' question could be defined as (from this Meta Scifi SE discussion):
"... too basic; the answer is indexed in any number of general internet reference sources designed specifically to find that type of information"
or (from Do we need a "General Reference" close reason?):
"...too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information".

'General Reference' questions are usually (but not always) easily searched/googled questions, and/or already have answers in their respective community wikis or a similar resource.

The top-voted answer in the meta discussion: Is it really acceptable to ask questions that are already easily googled?, seems to suggest that it is acceptable to cast a close vote with the 'Off-Topic' reason, if one believes that a question is 'General Reference'. While the top-voted answer in this meta discussion: Request to reopen/reevaluate my Final Fantasy Question also seems to suggest that it is acceptable to cast a close vote, but with the reason, 'Not Constructive'.

However, the top-voted answers in these meta discussions seem to suggest that one shouldn't cast a close vote on General Reference-type of questions: Do we need a "General Reference" close reason? and What's the policy regarding "easy" questions?

So, is it acceptable to cast a close vote if one thinks that a question is 'General Reference'? (If yes, what existing close vote reason should be chosen?) Or should a downvote be given instead? Or is it neither and 'General Reference' is not a valid reason for both closing and downvoting?

Or is the close vote, a personal vote, and the site doesn't prescribe on one's reasons for a close vote (e.g. if one thinks that 'General Reference' questions are off-topic, or not constructive)?

  • Downvoter(s): I'm quite new at posting here in Meta. Please provide a reason with your downvote. Sep 22, 2012 at 12:37
  • 14
    Downvotes on meta mean disagreement. The downvoters here don't think that closing things as general reference is a good idea. Sep 22, 2012 at 13:11
  • I asked this question because I'm confused on the meta discussions here on Arqade that seem to suggest different acceptable reasons for a close vote on General Reference questions. Or is the close vote, a personal vote, and the site doesn't prescribe on one's reasons for a close vote (e.g. if one thinks that 'General Reference' questions are off-topic, or not constructive)? Sep 23, 2012 at 4:14
  • @StrixVaria I started a discussion though, and am not making a point or suggesting an idea. (I'd understand that reason if the downvotes are on an answer.) So, if I titled my question "Is it not acceptable..." instead, does this mean... upvotes? Sep 23, 2012 at 4:18
  • Just note that votes don't matter at all on meta. They don't affect your rep or any privileges. Basically, don't worry about it. Sep 24, 2012 at 12:58
  • @murgatroid99 My concern has more to do with the impression that a negative point discussion gives. It seems that the downvoters imply that they do not approve of the discussion or post (and if so, one should give a reason). I initially thought that the downvotes were because of disagreement that this should be discussed at all. Like I said to StrixVaria, I'd understand the reason he/she provided, if the downvotes are on an answer, not the question/discussion post. Oct 1, 2012 at 6:54
  • The point is that since the votes don't affect you, we are free to vote our agreement or disagreement without it doing anything to you. Plus, disagreement votes here do kind of coincide with "do not discuss" votes. You proposed a change (or discussing a possible change) and our disagreement also meant "we don't want this change/we like it as it is, so it's not worth discussing". And even then we're not preventing discussion by voting to close. Oct 1, 2012 at 7:03
  • @murgatroid99 I wasn't proposing a change at all (if I did, I'll put it as an answer). I don't know what is considered acceptable, hence this question. (See this comment of mine where I explained why I asked this question.) Oct 1, 2012 at 7:16
  • It doesn't really matter if you accept/understand Strix's explanation, or mine. This is how voting works on Meta. Oct 1, 2012 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


There is no history on this site of closing questions for being "too easy" or "too googleable" and we wish to keep it that way.

Stack Exchange doesn't make the internet a better place to be by having questions shut down unanswered with a notice at the bottom that effectively says "learn2google nub."

Please do not start asking crap questions such as "HOW DO I JUMP IN MARIO" just to make a point. Thank you ♫

  • 1
    Though we do have a history of arguing about whether we should close questions that are too easy - e.g. How do you pronounce Skyrim? - but in the end, we have tended towards leaving them open.
    – au revoir
    Sep 22, 2012 at 15:08
  • @badp What about if 'already answered in detail at Wikipedia or a related community wiki' (not necessarily 'easily googleable')? Also, by "this site", do you mean Arqade, or the Stack Exchange Network, in general? I've seen articles here in Arqade that were closed because they were 'General Reference' (questions that already have answers already indexed in Wikipedia or a similar resource - e.g. gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/17630/terminology-gosu and meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/3990/… ) Sep 23, 2012 at 11:23
  • @galacticninja I don't know about the gosu one, but the other question was shut down because of scope, not wikipediability. I mean, seriously now, "Things that are reoccurring in Final Fantasy games"?
    – badp
    Sep 23, 2012 at 11:39
  • @badp About the Final Fantasy question, it was mentioned that its answer is already indexed in Wikipedia: secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/…, secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/… and secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/… - so I guess you could say it is 'already in and better indexed in Wikipedia'. Sep 23, 2012 at 11:55
  • @galacticninja It would've been closed regardless.
    – badp
    Sep 23, 2012 at 13:38
  • @badp Yes. I was giving examples of questions in this site that were closed because they were General Reference questions, as defined in my question (it also just happens that the first example is also easily googleable). Oct 1, 2012 at 7:02
  • I've gotten downvoted several times on Arqade for this exact reason. People accuse me of doing "no research" or "poor research" just because I asked a simple question that I thought would be useful to have as a reference for others who might wonder the same thing.
    – Josh B.
    Aug 9, 2017 at 21:15

Questions that have easy-to-find references are poor-research questions, and should be downvoted as such.

Reasons for closing a question include:

  • duplicate of...
  • off-topic because...
  • unclear what you're asking
  • too broad
  • primarily opinion-based

Note a distinct lack of "poor research" in the closed reason list.

We have downvotes to take care of poor research quality. From the Help Page:

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

Lack of research effort is grounds for a downvote, not a close vote.

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