On other SE sites, questions are closed when the are too "basic" or "general reference."

"This question is 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. See the FAQ for guidance on how to improve it."

For instance, "How many miles is 10 kilometers is a "basic, general reference," question. But "How many miles could a Roman soldier in Caesar's time march in a day in good weather with normal equipment?" probably isn't.

Because of the complexity of the question, I would hold that to be true even if this question could be answered by a "single link" to a "standard internet reference source" that answered this particular question. (The WHOLE POINT of SE is to create such "single links.)

Where do others draw the line?

1 Answer 1


I agree with Tom Au in that I prefer to look at the complexity of the question rather than the potential ease of answering it via a Google search. The caveat to that is that if a question is easily answered by a Wikipedia article it probably is too basic. The niche this site fills, in my opinion, is answering questions that require researching more obscure websites/books, or require the synthesis of multiple sources, etc. I view every question Case-By-Case.

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    To me, the key word is "synthesis." Answering the first question doesn't take a lot of it. Answering the second question requires considering multiple variables, even if drawn from ONE source. It's enough to confuse some people, particularly those for whom the source is not in their native language.
    – Tom Au
    Apr 11, 2013 at 17:55

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