Someone has suggested that one should engage in due diligence before asking a question: "Google it first." Perhaps this is even in the site guidelines.

Someone recently commented on one of my questions;

"A Moderate amount of research can give you at least three examples..."

I see a problem here: Today, with Wikipedia, Google, etc, there is virtually no question that cannot be answered by "googling it", if you know how and what to look for. If so, why do we need this site at all? How much "googling" and surfing around Wikipedia is required before one poses a question? An hour? 5 hours? A week?

Are only questions whose answers can be found exclusively in books or very obscure sources valid for the site, but something requiring only "moderate research" is not appropriate?

IMO the value of this site is two-fold:

1) It serves as a centralized repository for validated/expert answers about questions of History.

2) It allows those of us who are less informed about History, such that we might have to "google" for days or weeks before coming upon the correct answer, to avail ourselves of the knowledge of experts, who either know the answer from their own studies, and/or because of their expertise, know how and what to "google" to get a solid, correct answer.

IMO "Google it first" needs to be clarified.

  • 2
    If someone asks "Tell me about 'flummacious solagasting'" but shows no signs of having entered these two words as a search string into a search engine, then they have not demonstrated a minimum of effort. It is worse when Wikipedia already has an article on flummacious solagasting. What's even worse is when an experienced user, instead of voting to close, writes an answer paraphrasing from Wikipedia's article for an easy brace of upvotes. Aug 3, 2013 at 1:48
  • @EugeneSeidel - OK. And if so, I think perhaps 75% of the questions could eliminated and the site should close down, because there is nary a subject of historical interest that you won't find covered in a wiki article. In fact, I'm afraid there may be a big problem here - a general problem: wikipedia is become a de-facto authority for all knowledge... I just saw someone in old question who called a very accomplished legal scholar a 'crackpot' regarding a subject that has contemporary political implications, because of some material in wiki written by obvious partisans.
    – user2590
    Aug 3, 2013 at 4:56
  • I disagree, vector. Although there some Wikipedia questions, there are many questions that aren't answered by a simple Google query. Less than 20% of our answers quote Wikipedia or Google.
    – Luke_0
    Aug 3, 2013 at 14:08
  • @AmericanLuke - "simple google query" - true. That's actually part of my point. Regardless, I was just trying to get some guidelines on how much private research is required before asking a question.
    – user2590
    Aug 3, 2013 at 20:12

1 Answer 1


"Google it first" ("GiF") obviously means different things to different people. The spirit of the directive is more important than how much googling a person engages in.

GiF for someone that isn't familiar with history generally could be one or two searches and not finding something on the front page. GiF for someone that has been posting on here awhile and has a demonstrated knowledge of particular areas of history could be multiple days of searching and multiple pages deep in each search. The point is that someone actually puts forward an effort to GiF for themselves. Additionally, the complexity of the question changes the GiF formula.

I do agree with you about the value of the site being in part the two things you mentioned. I don't agree that everything on here is googleable, but that's just my opinion.

  • I think this is a very important point. Just because someone familiar with a topic can find all the material for an answer on the first hit of a well-written google query does not mean that somebody asking a question and less familiar with the subject was capable of the same feat.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Aug 6, 2013 at 14:38
  • @T.E.D. Please see my comment below the Question. Under what circumstances would it be acceptable for someone not to enter the two words they ask about as a search string into a search engine but directly come onto History.SE and ask? Aug 6, 2013 at 23:40
  • I agree that not everything here is Google-able; in particular, this site adds, in a single location, multiple viewpoints and perspectives on the questions asked and answered. Aug 16, 2013 at 20:05

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