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This started with this question and a few of the comments there: How do you communicate efficiently with someone who is stuttering?

One of our community members wrote a good answer to that question, listing the do's and don'ts of communicating with a stutterer. (link to deleted answer)

The OP of that question left a not so nice comment underneath that answer, stating that this answer was taken from a specific website and that there should be a link. Now, I don't want to argue about linking to sources here, since there is an etiquette for that here (which wasn't followed in this case).


It was what happened next that I would like to get cleared up. There were several comments, now deleted, so I'll have to do this by memory:

  • The said answerer commented under the question asking 'what general advice on the internet wasn't helpful to the OP'.
  • The OP replied that SE has it as their mission to be a place for all general advice on the internet, and reinstated in a kinder way that the answer wasn't wrong, just lacking a source.
  • And then there's another comment reacting to that stating that questions on SE do require some research effort, instead of asking people to post the contents of the internet onto SE.

This to me indicates some sort of hypothetical question situation, where the OP isn't actually struggling with the communication but is just curious. This feeling get's stronger by looking at the sheer amount of questions marks in that question.


I did some research on this and:

  • One of the reasons to downvote things is still 'shows a lack of research effort'.
  • This meta.se post states that SO shouldn't turn down questions just because the answer is on google.
  • The question itself doesn't mention a thing on what was already tried and what problem the tried solutions are presenting.

So, there are basically two things that are feeling as complete opposites to each other: We can downvote for lack of research effort, but we should also not be turning people down because the simple answer is on google.


What does constitute a lack of research effort here on IPS?

Would that be when there's no mention of what was already tried/nothing tried already?

Would that be when the question is basically a 'let me google that for you' request?

When do we downvote stuff as 'lack of research effort' and when do we close stuff for 'lacking details on what's already tried'?

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    It's pretty common knowledge that I'm the guy who started this mess. I took exception to the OP for this question asking a general question while already knowing what the generally advice was. Other stacks in the network expect the poster to put in reasonable effort into research before asking a question, which this guy didn't (in my view). The majority of questions here are obviously real problems for people. This one is (I feel) too general to be accepted here. – Snow Jan 19 '18 at 13:51
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    I had the same reaction to this question. This is not an issue where it's hard to find consensus about what to do or how to do it. All the informed advice (from people who stutter, advocacy groups, psychologists, etc.) seems to be in agreement. So why do we need more answers here, from folks who are basically just guessing? And if answers are not guesses, are we a LMGTFY service? If the easily available, very clear advice that is already out there is insufficient for the OP, the OP should explain how and why. – 1006a Jan 19 '18 at 16:25
  • @Snow For what its worth I agree. As I said in a comment that was magically deleted, some sites will lay down the hammer for this lack of research, which was very obvious regarding the question at hand. – Mister Positive Jan 19 '18 at 17:00
  • Just to mention another possibility: Some OP's may have the intention of writing an answer to their own question and so "save" their research for that one. There seems to be at least one example of a question and a self-answer and the assumed intention (note the time stamps). – Anne Daunted Jan 20 '18 at 18:54
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    @AnneDaunted yes, I've seen that happen before on another question too, actually had a discussion about that in chat too. I didn't act then (wasn't sure of myself), but at the time I stated that were I to judge the question as I would usually do, there would be detail lacking and I would close it as too broad, please add the details.... :/ I'll see if I can dig up that question and chat transcript later today. – Tinkeringbell Jan 22 '18 at 8:25
  • @AnneDaunted Yes, that is an accepted StackExchange practice, to self-answer. In fact, there is a built-in feature to help you do that: at the bottom of the page where you enter your question, there is a check-box labeled "Answer your own question – share your knowledge, Q&A-style" If you check that box, another text area appears for you to enter your answer. If you intend to self-answer because you have done your research, your answer should appear with the Q. No reason not to. – Aaron Feb 1 '18 at 0:38
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    @AnneDaunted Further, if you plan ahead of time to wait until good answers arise and to combine them with your own research you have already done to self-answer with an answer better than you otherwise would have, that would be quite rude. Instead, put your self-answer there initially, and if others provide good answers, let them borrow from you to improve theirs, not the other way around. It's like the difference between "Bob, can you do this report? Here's what I have so far. Thanks." and "Bob, can you do this report? I'm withholding what I have so I can take the credit when you finish." – Aaron Feb 1 '18 at 0:42
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"Please include the research you’ve done" is one of the most commonly used close reason on ELU, and it is there to avoid getting flooded with too-basic questions that can easily be answered by looking up a random dictionary or thesaurus. Speaking for ELU, we do not want to take up the role of a dictionary service yet.

I believe some similar approach is taken on most other stacks and maybe on a less strict level, for example, on tech or science related sites, we expect the OP to tell us what possible solutions they have already tried so that we can avoid investing our time writing an answer to which then the OP would say, "but I already tried that, like, duh".

On IPS, I think the research requirement, if we're going to make it mandatory, should be the OP's current ideas on how to approach a matter and how they think it would not work, or what they've already tried and how it did not work.

I don't think we should force our users to do all the googling they can before asking here. Googling enough can solve almost all our SE questions. Instead, our aim is to become that top google result for other googlers.

  • Just some thoughts on the matter, not a full-blown answer. – NVZ Jan 19 '18 at 20:06
  • "On IPS, I think the research requirement, if we're going to make it mandatory, should be the OP's current ideas on how to approach a matter and how they think it would not work, or what they've already tried and how it did not work. I don't think we should force our users to do all the googling they can before asking here." __ That makes sense for IPS.SE @NVZ. May I also ask why the issue of "doing your research" was never raised here before this particular controversy broke out! In short we have never insisted that members should do their research before posting questions here. – English Student Jan 19 '18 at 20:38
  • @EnglishStudent As always, we solve an issue when it arises, and never before. Also, I'm not taking any particular stand about making the "research" a site policy. – NVZ Jan 19 '18 at 20:39
  • But why didn't the issue arise earlier @NVZ? The fact that the issue never arose before in the 6 months that IPS has been up and running tells me that "research" is not a necessary component for questions on IPS, just as our answers are validated by experience and not by references, unlike other sites on the SE network. – English Student Jan 19 '18 at 20:41
  • @EnglishStudent Why something did not come up earlier, you ask. Your guess is as good as mine. :) – NVZ Jan 19 '18 at 20:43
  • I think 6 months is a good period for common problems to come up a few times @NVZ. The "research" issue never came up before because members were asking highly personalised questions on interpersonal interactions and were not expected to "show their research." In fact that is the right policy for IPS which is in many ways unique among SE websites. – English Student Jan 19 '18 at 20:45
  • @EnglishStudent Ah, yes. I think you have a good point there worth preserving in an answer. – NVZ Jan 19 '18 at 20:47
  • I was thinking along those lines as well -- mainly because I like to convert comments into snswers whenever possible -- thanks @NVZ. – English Student Jan 19 '18 at 20:51
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Quoting my friend @NVZ from his earlier answer,

On IPS, I think the research requirement, if we're going to make it mandatory, should be the OP's current ideas on how to approach a matter and how they think it would not work, or what they've already tried and how it did not work. I don't think we should force our users to do all the googling they can before asking here.

__ That makes sense for IPS.SE @NVZ. May I also ask why the issue of "doing your research" was never raised here before this particular controversy broke out! In short we have never insisted that members should do their research before posting questions here.

But why didn't the issue arise earlier? I think 6 months is a good period for common problems to come up a few times. The "research" issue never came up before because members were asking highly personalised questions on interpersonal interactions and were not expected to "show their research."

The fact that the issue never arose before in the 6 months that IPS has been up and running tells me that "research" is not a necessary component for questions on IPS, just as our answers are validated by experience and not by references, unlike other sites on the SE network.

In fact that is the right policy for IPS which is in many ways unique among SE websites.

I do not consider that an isolated case necessitates newly applying principles of mandatory research from other SE sites, totally or partially to IPS. We can certainly monitor the situation to see if more such instances occur, and discuss accordingly.

Meanwhile we don't need to be too bothered about what constitutes "lack of research effort" when a question is asked at IPS.SE, and there is no need to downvote for that reason. We are mainly concerned when a question lacks details (including details of what solutions were already tried) to make it answerable in precise and helpful ways.

However, "lacking necessary details" was never formalized as a custom close reason because members felt that existing close reasons are sufficient for the purpose. If the question is too broad or it is 'unclear what you are asking', vote to put on hold until OP provides relevant and adequate details.

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    I don't know where you're getting at, but the fact that it never arose in the 6 months IPS is up is a worthless argument. If everything were to be encountered before now, IPS would be graduated or closed. – Tinkeringbell Jan 20 '18 at 10:29

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