While I quite accept that the comment text may be seen as "too harsh" or "elitist" by some, I think that T.E.D. may have hit on the core of the problem in his comment to your answer.
I think different people mean totally different things with the research checks
The comment you think may be too "harsh" and "elitist" is mine, and I accept full responsibility for it. It is the form of words that I developed over time, and which have been adopted in a slightly modified form as the suggested 'boilerplate' text for questions from new users lacking prior research.
So, perhaps some background is in order.
The general expectation on SE is that SE sites work best if the questions are supported by preliminary research. This point is also made explicit here on our meta site in Mark C. Wallace's excellent post Why did my question get a downvote?.
I wanted to develop a form of words that would be supportive to new users by clearly explaining just what it is that we expect them to tell us when they ask a question. I wanted to point them at our Tour and Help Centre, so they would have some idea of what we expect and how SE is different from other sites that they may be used to. I also recognise that the length of a comment is limited, so brevity would be a good thing.
I was fairly clear in my own mind that I needed to know:
- Where have they searched
So that I don't have to duplicate any research they have already done.
- What they found
So I don't just post an answer that tells them what they already know.
- Why that wasn't sufficient to answer their question
This will generally tell me what they really want to know. Did they search, and not actually find anything? Or perhaps they searched and found a paper that they don't quite understand (both are perfectly valid questions for History:SE, IMO, but they do require very different answers).
By late 2017 I had developed & was using this as my basic "Welcome to the site, but where is your preliminary research" comment:
Welcome to History:SE. What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? Please help us to help you. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, [ask].
I originally included "Why was that not sufficient?" but was told that it sounded "condescending", so I've since been leaving it out in most cases.
I posted this as an answer to the meta questions Dealing with newbie questions - again and What should be the standard message for “Please document research”? early last year.
This was subsequently modified by LangLangC and posted as an answer to the Standard comment situations: suggestions for close votes and down votes meta question.
Now, obviously, I have been editing this to suit the circumstances. For example, if the OP has the 'Informed' badge, I cut the bit about the Site Tour. The fact they have that badge means that they have at least scrolled to the end of the tour. They may even have read some of it.
If I search for keywords from their question an get an answer on the first page returned by Google, or in a Wikipedia page, then I try to add something like:
When I did a Google search for
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx, the xth result on the first page was the paper xxxxx. Perhaps you could edit your question to explain what you think is missing from, or unclear about that paper?
Perhaps you could edit your question to explain what you think is missing from, or unclear about the Wikipedia article (with link).
either edited into the question or posted as a supplemental comment.
Unfortunately, that approach is often less than successful in dealing with questions that should probably be closed as 'Too basic'. All too often, someone will then take that comment and post it as an answer. Regrettably (in my opinion) these answers also often attract upvotes, occasionally hit the HNQ list, and/or get tweeted by our Twitter bot. This then sends the message that these are examples of what is considered acceptable questions on History:SE.
So, is the comment text "too harsh" or "elitist"?
I don't think so. But then I wrote it, so am perhaps the wrong person to ask. It reflects how I actually speak in life, and - more importantly - it asks the specific questions that I want the user to edit the body of their question to address.
I'm not wedded to that particular form of words, but I do want whatever 'boilerplate' text we adopt to ask explicitly for that information. It is important, and - again in my opinion - should be the minimum that we require for prior research.
However, if a majority of the community want something different in terms of what we expect from preliminary research, then maybe we need to settle that in another meta question before we agree on a standard comment text.
Preferably with a canonical answer that can be linked to from our Help Centre.