This comes as my reaction to a recent question in which the Asker cheerfully admitted to having done zero research. Just recently I came across this GREAT Answer on Meta Stack Overflow, by someone called "user 414076". I am going to quote it here (remember, the question was, How much research is expected [of Stackoverflow users]):

A lot. An absurd amount. More than you think you are capable of. In fact, asking a question on Stack Overflow is the absolute last thing you ever want to do. You want to avoid it at all costs. You want to think of it as a horrible shame* that will forever haunt you and pass down from you to your descendants. You want very much to find your answer some other way.

You want to

  • Search. Like mad.
  • Test your code.
  • Troubleshoot.
  • Read blogs.
  • Find books.
  • Follow tutorials.
  • Anything to avoid adding another question to Stack Overflow.

You never want to hit that "ask question" button and absolutely never do you want to click the "post your question" button.

After you have reached the end of your rope and the pain of not having the answer exceeds the vast amount of shame received by posting your question, that's when you can go ahead and ask. Because at that point, you will have done whatever research necessary to make it a good question worth asking. Because so help me, if your question gets an answer within 30 seconds that has 10 upvotes within 3 minutes, you did not do enough research.

* The terms "shame" and "never" are a tad bit hyperbolic, but the important point remains that we absolutely want you to do your homework. Understand that our time is not free, though we do not charge for it. Answering low quality, poorly researched, or duplicated questions becomes tiresome.

It would need a few minor adjustments to adapt to History Stack Exchange, but the point is clear enough, isn't it?

Now, admittedly, for some reason it is harder to ask a well-researched question than it is to give a well-researched answer. I found this out when comparing my two thoroughly researched Answers (on Roman slavery and Charles the Bold's nickname) with my lackadaisical American Mafia Question, which could have used a good deal more research.

So, for my next question I am presently knee-deep in research. I want to make sure that I've tried all the obvious things first before coming here.

Then again, maybe a majority of you don't care at all for what concerns me. Maybe you're happy to ask a constant streams of questions about something that could easily have been found on Wikipedia, receive upvotes, get a from-Wikipedia answer, give upvotes, and tomorrow you switch places. A parlor game. Like Trivial Pursuit, but win-win instead of zero-sum since everyone's rep keeps growing.

In that case, sorry for wasting your time.

  • Take it up with Joel Spolsky and his "How do I move the turtle in LOGO" question :) – DVK Jun 13 '13 at 15:39
  • @DVK Hm? Closed as not a real question... – yannis Jun 13 '13 at 17:02
  • @YannisRizos - wait, someone managed to win the anyi-Spolksy trivial SO questions war??? I guess I should have been paying more attention to SO :) You just made my day! – DVK Jun 13 '13 at 18:26

I think that you need to at least display that you have done enough research beyond Google search, and Wikipedia. You should want to do this level of research because it might: a) answer your question, or b) familiarize you with the topic to the point where you can ask a more pointed and useful question.

Researching to the same level as some of the hard science stacks is really not necessary for this stack. A lot of times people don't even know where it is too look online to find what they are looking for. Google is great, but it is not that good.


I'm middle of the way.

  • If the question has a topic devoted to it on Wikipedia, and the asker didn't bother reading that topic, CLOSE. Not enough research.

  • If the question has a set of Google results that do NOT include Wikipedia or EB, this is NOT considered lack of research, since a non-expert may not be in a position to know which linked resources are worth trusting as sources.

  • Having said that, unless you mention that you TRIED to do you research and here is what you found and how it's not enough for you for whatever reason, that should be at least grounds for downvoting.


Using Google Books, Wikipedia and many other serious online resources one can actually find a proper answer to any question.

So the consequence of strictly applying the user404176's opinion would be the closure of this site whose situation is already critical because there are only 3.6 questions for day.

At the contrary, I think that to ask on this site no research is needed and the questions should be voted only in reference to the fact they are more or less intersting.

StackExchange format, which is derived from Q&A sites regarding 'exact' science, doesn't work in the case of history problems.

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