Part of the reason this site needs to exist is because of the fragmentary nature of sources for information on SF&F. I, personally, agonize over closures that are general reference for this very reason.
We should only consider as general reference questions that can be easily answered by typing all or part of the question into Google.
I continually see questions here that are housed on Wikipedia, but that aren't found by asking Google. If there were only one alternative source - or even only 5 - for finding the information we could be justified in considering something that is easy to find on that source itself as general reference, but if Google can't find the answer for you it may be impossible given your limited knowledge to find it elsewhere.
Sometimes it is really hard to find something that, given the right words, would be easy to find. Finding where to start with Dr Who might be really easy if you knew about the Dr Who wiki. And, as a nice recent example,If you know about the Science Fantasy genre, it is really easy to answer this question: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/q/4842/51 but Google is surprisingly unhelpful.
What seems obvious to me, may be entirely obfuscated to someone else. Which is exactly the point of the site.
So we need to lower our standards. We should deter the use of our site AS a search engine, but we should encourage the use of our site as a hub for locating sources and as a gateway to the world of Speculative Fiction.
It goes beyond the focus of this discussion, but other ways we could improve our stance and reduce redundancy are:
- Link to the various universe-specific wikis and sites on that universe/series tag wiki.
- Routinely use those sites as linked references, helping to improve their rank on Google.
- Being tolerant of "stupid questions" that may not be all that stupid from an outsider's perspective.
- Adding comments and improving answers with rephrasing of a question or important searchable details that will allow the question to appear on a wider variety of searches, thus reducing re-asking.
Added the Flowchart Jeff mentions in the comments, because it is helpful: