8
$\begingroup$

The recent “so what happened with New Horizons, anyway?” question is the starkest example I’ve seen of a question that is trivially answered by a quick look at the obvious Wikipedia entry.

I’d like to discourage such questions in a way that encourages people to do their own basic research, and maybe come back with more interesting questions. None of the existing flag or vote-to-close options really seems to me to capture “question lacks evidence of basic research”.

The SX help page says “search and research” before asking questions, but it's easy for a user to overlook that page. I'm aware of the downvote tooltip that says "this question does not show any research effort", but I feel that downvote spamming may be more discouraging than a flag that auto-generates a helpful comment (as is done for dupes).

Can/should we add such a flag?

$\endgroup$
10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Something like the History SE "too trivial" flag? I could get behind that. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jan 20 at 18:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the question boils down to: do we want to answer trivial questions or not. Both direction has some dangers. Making them off-topic would cause that many good-standing layman newbie would be expelled from the site. We will have much lower visit count. Furthermore, some like an "inner circle" will emerge with a - deliberate or not - goal of expelling new, productive answerers, too. Because they kill the questions what they would like to answer. I've seen many SE sites went into this direction. Yes, they have no trivial questions, but it does not mean that it would be pleasant to be there. $\endgroup$ – peterh Jan 20 at 23:45
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Agreed, there's nothing wrong with an easy question especially an "I don't understand" type - which can result in a useful answer, but that is quite different from let-me-google-that-for-you type questions. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 21 at 3:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble Yeah, that's what I had in mind with "too trivial". What you described is pretty much how History uses that close reason. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jan 21 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Moved extended discussion about Wikipedia and the limits of the SE model to chat. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jan 21 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but restrict it to authors with 5K or more rep, as they should know better. $\endgroup$ – user20636 Jan 21 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ I have a feeling you may still need some variety of homework policy on the site, but that's a matter for another question. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Jan 22 at 14:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage do you mean this one? "This question is too basic; it can be definitively answered by a single link to the relevant topic on Wikipedia or another standard reference source. If you are instead questioning the correctness of a reference source, please edit the post to supply a link and explain what you find unclear, or why you believe it to be wrong or incomplete." $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 26 at 13:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh That's the one! $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jan 26 at 15:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage I like this one very much, it's been thought-about, and is more specific than a sweeping "no evidence of research". Sometimes questions aren't going to benefit from research, and sometimes they are simply asked to allow for a pending good answer to have a place to be posted. A "no evidence of research" close means every single question must always have research; that feels too overreaching and "big government" (humor) minded to me . $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 26 at 15:27
2
$\begingroup$

I understand the sentiment and concern but before adding more features to the site let's do our homework.

  1. What existing, documented problem that could not be addressed with existing tools would now be solved with the proposed solution? (the single example cited was easily and quickly handled with current tools)
  2. How many examples of this problem can be cited where existing tools were demonstrably insufficient? Has a list of use-cases been compiled for review?
  3. Have possible unintended consequences been proposed and considered? I'm sure some people might use this well, but it runs the risk of overuse. Current close reasons are well thought out and time-tested, a new one could wreak havoc.
  4. What about questions that simply don't need research? The purpose of a question is to provide the opportunity for good answers to be written and added to our knowledge base.
  5. Is this "double jeopardy" as the tool-tip guide already tells us to down vote for insufficient research? update: it might technically be so, but if the community uses this close reason instead of piling on punitive down votes (which linger even after the research is added) then this could really be the kinder, gentler way.1

1provided people don't want to simply leave the helpful comment as a helpful comment themselves instead of generating the proposed auto-comment and answer-blocking vote.

$\endgroup$
3
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm aware of the tooltip, but I feel that downvote spamming is more discouraging than a flag that auto-generates a helpful comment (as is done for dupes). I disagree that current close reasons cover this case well. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Jan 20 at 21:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove Ya I know what you mean and I agree with that. Why not add that back to your question post to enhance your argument and then I'll delete reference to it here. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 20 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove I've updated, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 21 at 9:36
2
$\begingroup$

(Extended from comment.)

I think the question boils down to: do we want to answer trivial questions or not. Both direction has some dangers.

Disadvantages of making them off-topic:

  • It would cause that many good-standing layman newbies would be expelled from the site.
  • We will have much lower visit count.
  • Furthermore, some like an "inner circle" will emerge with a - deliberate or not - goal of expelling new, productive answerers, too. Because they kill the answerable questions. I've seen many SE sites went into this direction. Yes, they have no trivial questions, but it does not mean that it would be pleasant to be there.

The advantage is that strict quality rules have an attractive power for professionals. This is a very strong argument in general. But not for us: afaik very few of us are working really on space technologies professionally. Relative often happen posts where someone identifies himself as a pro (or retired pro), like an ex-NASA engineer. These are mostly high quality answers. I don't know anybody who would be also active on the meta, or who would be interested with the site itself, too.

The site has today a main goal (to leave beta), and also in general, I believe, we need more users, more questions, more posts, more activity.

There is another argument, and this about, what is this site for. It is not only a good recreational resource, and information resource - it is a way to make the world better, by making space exploration more popular. Note, the budget of the NASA strongly depends on the interest of the people of the USA, and the future, I believe, absolutely doesn't look bright. That the NASA will be converted to a little, weather observation agency, might look a hilarious idea in our eyes, but it is a viable option for the U.S. decision makers.

Many of the answers could be easily found by checking the Wikipedia, but it does not mean that the information should not exist also here. We are not a Stack Overflow: we do not need to deal with an unbelievable continuous flood of crap content. We are small, and we have enough reviewers/curators.

The system of the Physics SE is that they have no rule for trivial questions, but they have many other rules (question has to be about mainstream physics, it can not be a low quality homework copy, and some others). But, in theory, any trivial question can be asked here. While there are regularly strong initiatives to move the balance more strongly into a professional direction, the de facto status quo is that easy questions are okay, but their quality control is stronger. I believe, some similar could work also here.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

I stopped participating in Space.SE three months ago, because another user said he would no longer answer my questions because he felt I already knew the answers.

So if you don't do any research, some say your question doesn't belong here. But if you have done the research, your question also doesn't belong here. Damned if you don't, damned if you do.

Being unwelcoming to those who ask questions has consequences.

$\endgroup$
7
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I had a similar experience; a user regularly down voted and complained that I was "wasting people's time", (one example: Am I really “wasting people's time” by posting a KSP-related question, then answering it when there were 4 close votes? see three deleted or partially invisible answers) The user left the site eventually. I think that leaving "because another user said he would no longer answer my questions" is not representative of a good answer to this meta question here. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 24 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ Is there any evidence of "some say..." or was it just an isolated instance? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 24 at 4:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh: That particular sentence was referring to the problem you express in this meta question. Yes, the experience I describe in this meta answer is exactly the opposite situation. My point is that it's damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't, which is not okay. $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon Feb 24 at 4:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If it makes you feel better, one of the users that was doing this voluntarily left the community. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Feb 24 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that does make me feel better. Perhaps I will resume contributing. $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon Feb 25 at 1:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Um, you stated that you knew the answers to about 1/3 of your questions - no feeling was required -, and researching a question and failing to find the answer isn't the same thing at all as asking a question you know the answer to. But welcome back! $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 25 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ "I try to write questions that others will find either useful or interesting, regardless of how well I know the answer. For about 1/3 of my questions I already know the answer, another 1/3 I know where I could find the answer, and the final 1/3 I couldn't answer myself. By this suggestion, 1/3 of my questions would be marked Puzzler! Seems a bit too much" - comment to this answer space.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1577/6944 $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 25 at 2:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .