Common Stack Network policy is to embrace non-Googlers. The Stack Exchange wants to be a place Google sends folks, not a place that sends folks to Google.

Unfortunately, many sites and some of our users feel the downvote reason "does not show any research effort" is synonymous with "did not try Google/Wikipedia."

While obviously there's no way to control folks' voting habits--and there shouldn't be!--I think it's useful to establish where lit.se hopes to come down on this subject as a community. Specifically:

If we embrace non-Googlers, what level of effort is sufficient for avoiding mass downvotes? For example, on scifi.se they determined reading/watching material is not necessary effort in order to ask questions about it. If we adopt that, then "Did not read the book before asking" isn't a reason to downvote.

  • What has having read or seen it to do with non-Googlers?
    – Helmar
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 7:12
  • @Helmar I've edited the example to be more clear.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 7:24
  • 6
    I'm sorry but you're confusing two things. On SciFi, "not necessary to ask" merely refers to "doesn't make the question offtopic" - it does not in any way refer to the fact that the question might indeed be of atrocious quality and should be downvoted because basic skimming of the book answers it.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 17:39

4 Answers 4


We should

Non-Googlers is one of the main groups posting on SE. They search answers, often easy answers. Who are we to forbid them of asking? Embrace easy questions, for they open up a forum for future Quick-Googlers.
A great example of 'quick-googling* can be found here. The author clearly hasn't researched well enough before asking. But this question will now serve future Non-Googlers.

In conclusion: embrace them, for you can't prevent them from posting.

  • 3
    I agree with this answer, but for a slightly different reason. Part of the mission of Stack Exchange is to offer better information, and create expert answers. Expert answers can be given even to problems that are not as complex or deep - and a question can be well-formulated, even if it appears simple to the experienced eye.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 8:18
  • Are you criticizing your own question? O_o
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 8:24
  • @Emrakul That's one worry I have about these easily Googleable questions. Since it's so easy to answer them, the rep system then starts to reward the people who are fastest with Google instead of those who have deep expert knowledge and take the time to write up a detailed answer. This will be even more of a problem when we reach public beta and start to get on the HNQ system. We all know that short and easy Q&A tend to get more easily HNQified and mega-upvoted than long and complex ones, even though the latter is a better place for expert knowledge to shine out.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 12:49
  • 1
    @Rand This is a structural problem with Stack Exchange no matter how it's framed, because it originates with what people think is valuable. Very little we do will make a significant impact on that problem.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 12:54
  • 1
    Could you please elaborate in your answer if you are saying "embrace" as in "they are ontopic" or "embrace" as in "they are good questions and worth upvotes instead of downvotes"?
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 3:19
  • 1
    I fail to see how the transformation from non-Googlers to quick-Googlers is completed. Also your central argument is non-Googling questions will serve future non-Googlers, but by definition non-Googlers do not do enough research on a Googlable subject. So how will such questions benefit future non-Googlers who by definition won't bother?
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 6:19


In addition to agreeing with RaisingAgent's justification, let me offer another one. Literature often defies specific interpretation - something that may be a problem for this site. A question asked here may elicit a different - and no less valid - answer to the top Google rankings. Or the questioner may have read those pages and been dissatisfied with the answer due to lack of evidence or references.

As long as we can keep up a high quality of questions and answers on the site, it would seem to be an excellent companion to Google.

  • 2
    I think you're answering a subtly different question. If a question gets an answer here which is different from the top Google results, or the asker has read those pages but is dissatisfied with them, then that's not a non-Googler question. If I understand correctly, the OP is asking about questions which can be fully answered by the top Google results.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 12:54

I think that this Meta question confuses two distinct concepts.

  1. "Embrace" as in "allow"

    Are questions allowed to exist (are in scope) on the site?

    The answer to that is clearly "yes" and other answers seem to agree.

  2. "Embrace" as in "like and praise"

    Does failing to do a basic Google search mean that the question should be upvoted or at least not downvoted? No. Quite the opposite.

    The downvote button's hover over explanation explicitly says "the question does not show any research effort".

    Doing a basic Google search and following up on, at least, a Wikipedia link, is a minimum level of effort expected of a question. If the poster failed to do that, the question is undeniably bad and should be downvoted, with prejudice.

  • 2
    I feel this doesn't really reflect an understanding of the philosophies underlying the reasoning in the linked meta, and reflects an unfortunate assumption that everybody's research patterns should be identical.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 20:41

One reason to embrace non-Googlers that isn't mentioned often anywhere I have seen is that Google isn't always easy for everybody. Sometimes people have specific personal factors that can make researching independently difficult, and forums can support them in spite of their limitations.

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