Question

Questions such as this one show a gross lack of even basic research. (My answer to the question is in fact an almost straight explanation of Google's first result.)

So far, I tend to answer these questions (here and on other stackexchange sites) and point to the appropriate resources. However, many members simply downvote with a "RTFM" / "Google it" comment instead.

Should these questions be answered or should they be flagged and removed from the site?

The consensus seems to be that Yes, questions with almost no research should still be answered. This is because the gamedev SE site is designed to be a comprehensive and authoritative source of answers on the topic of game development.

As an addendum, it probably wouldn't hurt to let the question's author know that his question was trivially answerable with a modicum of research, and point them in the direction of the following resources, in order to drive the quality of the questions and answers up:

• That question in particular should be closed as "Too localized." Apr 22, 2012 at 6:16
• @NicolBolas That particular question isn't too localized with the edit somebody added to make it about the general case. Apr 22, 2012 at 18:19
• I edited it after his comment! :-D Apr 22, 2012 at 18:20
• It's worth noting that when things are purplexing, your confused, pushed for time and Google searches find nothing because you don't know how to word them, or how relevent each page is anyway. That uniquely, Stack Exchange can still help. May 22, 2012 at 15:35
• I can understand the sentiment of your statement alan2here. I have many times been in the position of looking for something on google, or even an SE, and find nothing because I was looking for the "wrong" thing. this is where the comments of "similar to postX" a common action by moderators, and high rep users. sometimes I have written some questions only to find that the answer was the first result on Google (if I had done the right search) May 24, 2012 at 4:58
• For any question involving 'incorrect wording' made from a beginner, there's a nice Search feature to use. Incorrect wording will still involve some words to fill a search query with. That will also give you the correct wording, if you are willing to spend a few minutes to actually read what you found. After that, if something is unclear rinse and repeat until a new question is acceptable. I think that's the whole point. May 25, 2012 at 20:33
• Just my 2c, I think both. They should be answered, so that the answers can be a part of the next person's research. Authoritative source of knowledge and whatnot. But, I think they should be penalized as well so that the asker learns from the experience and does more of their own research next time.
– Suds
May 31, 2012 at 2:52
• @Suds: err...that would make sense if they DID the research in the first place, wouldn't it? It's useless to answer to create a 'knowledge base' when the users asking those question are proven to NOT search for a knowledge base. Let alone reading the FAQ. Jun 3, 2012 at 16:40

I agree with Dave it all depends on whether the intent of the site is to follow the "no question too simple" model of StackOverflow.

I must disagree though with "But you shouldn't just give them the answer only how to work it out" - whether this site should have a lower limit on simplicity is open for discussion but it has already been decided that it is for straightforward, answerable questions - it says as much in the FAQ.
GameDev is not a 'learning resource'* it is a 'reference resource' - if the question has one 'right' answer then giving clues as how to find it will only annoy all the people who find it on Google etc. and are looking for a quick answer to help them with their real problem, and reduce the usefulness of the site.

(*Not simply because 'that's what the FAQ says', but to help someone learn requires a continuous open dialogue which this model is designed specifically to avoid.)

Personally I think this site should follow SO in allowing any question no matter how simple. I've always envisaged the StackExchange network as being a dynamic encyclopedia where the 'facts' are revised as the community knowledge becomes more refined.
You wouldn't get someone at Encyclopedia Britannica saying "Everyone knows water has hydrogen in it. We cater to a higher class of encyclopedia readers and will not waste our page real estate on that!" - if everyone thought like that two generations from now everyone will think water is just liquid oxygen.

• But on StackOverflow simple/obvious questions are often penalized. Hey, as CUDA programmer, I've seen silly beginner mistakes by some posters lead to vicious down-voting which always saddens me. I mean CUDA isn't exactly intuitive to a beginner... In my experience SO is anything but a place where no question is too simple these days. Rather than help beginners by editing/massaging their questions to eliminate mistakes/silly errors, people simply blast them and post "answers" mocking them... that's been my experience at least, though it's of course not always the case. Apr 25, 2012 at 21:10
• Agreed - in fact I wanted to update my answer with regards to the behaviour of posters towards 'too simple questions' (but didn't feel it appropriate after the answer had already received votes). I think down voting and commenting 'rtfm' as brice said many do should be penalised. It creates a hostile atmosphere not just for the new user but for everyone who browses the site. There is no excuse for it - vote to close and leave it alone - and if there is no fitting 'close' reason to choose I think that says quite a bit! Perhaps my post should have said: "follow the intended model of SO".
– sebf
Apr 26, 2012 at 10:58
• Good suggestions, I definitely agree. Users like you make SO great. We're all learners, I'm sure even some of the most uprated posters' questions would be chuckled at by the authors of some given language standard. When I see beginner bashing I try to encourage the person and admonish the snobs, as appropriate. Of the criticism, I suppose the Is this homework? is probably the most valid, but even that gets somewhat annoying, given than there's often a hazy line between hmwk, class projects, independent study, research, and entrepreneurial ventures for beginning SW engineers. Apr 27, 2012 at 20:09
• @JasonR.Mick I have to disagree there. I'm a newbie CUDA and Scala programmer myself and posted some silly (at least somewhat silly?) questions. They weren't downvoted. Actually, got quite a few upvotes (many more than on other legitimate questions I made) because I did some research, even if it went in the wrong direction. The problem is not lack of knowledge, is lack of research intentions. If you research and fail doing so, you deserve a legitimate answer even if it's perceived as easy. If you encourage ANY question, the site will become too noisy and therefore not too appealing/useful.
– kaoD
Apr 30, 2012 at 13:05
• Easy questions are OK, no-research questions are not. It's that simple.
– o0'.
May 13, 2012 at 13:50
• @Lohoris, but that assertion is what the whole discussion is about ;D. I would say they are, because SE is meant as a repository of 'timeless Q&As' (I can't remember where I read the use of that expression but I think it sums it up perfectly). Besides what happens when 'common knowledge' on the rest of the internet changes? I.e. right now Windows Media Foundation is brand new and "how do I load a filter?" is a reasonable question - 10 months from now it would be getting closed it if was that cut and dry. I guess my question is, what use is a factual reference with only half the facts?
– sebf
May 13, 2012 at 14:08
• @sebf well, you have a point :)
– o0'.
May 13, 2012 at 14:16
• Ok, this seems to be the consensus. It reflects my behaviour anyway, it just means that I can point people here. Thanks guys. will change the accepted answer if the consensus changes. May 21, 2012 at 13:11

Depends - if we want this site to have the answers to everything and thus be the go to place for any and all questions or only the answers to slightly more researched questions.

I personally have no issue answering questions if some one has not done the research, asking here is no different to asking a teacher or a parent for help or any one else. Could argue, asking here is their way to research on their own accord.

But you shouldn't just give them the answer only how to work it out. So that they can then figure it out themselves.

As per SO rules, unresearched questions are allowed, but I tend to make a not too subtle difference: I will downvote questions if a similar search inside the corresponding SO site gives at least one very similar question in the first two pages. That would indicate that the user didn't bother searching or even reading the array of similar previous questions SO offers when creating a new entry.

Case in point: "How do I load [asset type] in XNA at runtime?" questions.

Otherwise, I'll refer to the external resource and offer a simplified explanation, but clearly state that a web search would have been the way to go.

Case in point: "Normal for surface of cube in XNA"

As a person who has had the 'google it' answer thrown at them I would like to answer - 'what am I googling?'

There are times when I have a question that I just can't word correctly, or a technical name I don't remember or, when learning a new language, I simply don't know the terminology.

Nearly every question I have asked on the stack exchange websites hasn't been answered 100% correctly but has put me in the right direction - and then I can 'google it'.

In one question I even asked if people could tell me what to 'google'.

My biggest thing is that I often happen upon these kinds of question when I am researching something. So to see "Go Google it" is not very helpful for all of the other people that may find the question while searching for answers themselves. As long as the question is valid and appropriate for the site I believe it should be answered in as much relative detail as makes sense for the situation.

Now, if it happens to be a standard repeat question then detail is not necessary. Just provide a link to an answered question of the same issue. And at all times try to remember that "beginners" don't always know "what" to search for and may have problems finding similarities in other answers themselves.