I have noticed recently that a lot of questions that get asked are extremely easily answered with 10 seconds of Google.

Examples include:

These kinds of questions will, on other stackexchanges, rather quickly, get voted down into oblivion as that is literally just a matter of typing that question into Google to get an answer.

However, these kinds of questions seem to generate very few, if any, downvotes on Sci-Fi and often generate upvotes, meaning people are actively being rewarded with reputation for doing no research of their own.

Is Sci-Fi less strict in their research requirements?

  • 4
    Relevant: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/3070/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Oct 20, 2015 at 8:27
  • 1
    See also: Should we burninate General Reference?
    – phantom42
    Oct 20, 2015 at 10:53
  • 4
    EVERY stack exchange site has questions like these! They're just a little more obvious here. The ones on SE where SE has crept up the rankings to be that top hit when googling it probably generate so much traffic and ad revenue as to pay for the server costs of a medium sized site like this one on their own... Oct 20, 2015 at 13:59
  • 1
    You clearly don't hang out enough on StackOverflow. This site is about 10 orders of magnitude harsher on LMGTFY questions than SO is. Oct 22, 2015 at 17:31
  • I admit, my main reference was RPG's stack exchange, which is 10 orders of magnitude harsher than scifi. But doing some looking around SO, I see what you mean, there are a lot of LMGTFY questions floating around on there with ridiculously high upvotes.
    – Theik
    Oct 22, 2015 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


Open 'em all*; let votes sort 'em out.

*except for things that are actually off-topic or out of scope

Originally, we closed such questions as "General Reference", but we had a problem where we could never totally agree on what constituted "General Reference". Almost any question can be answered via Google in just one search of the correct keywords. Closing every question that could be "easily" Googled would close more questions than we wanted.

Additionally, we decided that one does not need to have read/watched the work being asked about, meaning that even the most trivial and obvious of questions about a work are on topic

Over time, we realized that we never really had a problem with having too many "too easy" questions (they certainly show up, but they don't overrun the site). This led to us burninating General Reference.

When the question came up again later, we reiterated that we do not close questions for being "too trivial".

Beofett's answer still reflects the general consensus:

Why is it not sufficient to say "if a question is trivial, boring, and demonstrates little to no research, downvote it"? Note that the hover-text for downvoting states quite clearly that a question or answer should be downvoted when it "does not show any research effort" or "it is unclear or not useful"!

As for why such questions are upvoted, well, that's every user's prerogative. They may find the question interesting, or useful, or they may have just wondered about the same thing. You may not, and that's OK. Vote however you want (so long as it's on the post, not the poster), and everyone else will do the same. Typically, the votes will eventually reflect the overall quality of the question (except for questions which hit the Hot Network Questions List, which can dramatically skew scores.)

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    "let votes sort 'em out" doesn't really work though: these are precisely the sort of question that DO hit HNQs, because they're answered very fast and often get multiple answers, and so they'll get lots of drive-by upvotes from casual visitors from other sites even if we at SFF tend to dislike them.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Oct 23, 2015 at 0:30
  • yes, that's why i have the last sentence of my answer. we can't do much to educate the drive-by users.
    – phantom42
    Oct 23, 2015 at 4:08

Is Sci-Fi less strict in their research requirements?

No. I'm too lazy to go find actual examples, but StackOverflow is choke full of obvious RTFM/LMGTFU obvious questions, that are upvoted into stratosphere.

As a matter of fact, many sites suffer from this, for similar reasons. If you google "meta+stackexchange+bikeshedding" you will see examples from tons of SE sites struggling with this.

Also, of the 2 questions you listed as examples, one has a cumulative score of "-2".

What are those mythical reasons?

  1. Bikeshedding [1],[2],[3] effect.

    In short,

    • people tend to spend disproportional amount of time and effort (including granting upvotes and liking) things which are trivial **and thus easily comprehended)

    • There are tons of people who aren't experts and enjoy trivial questions; whereas very few experts in comparison who dislike trivia.

  2. This is significantly worsened by Hot Network Questions list

    As discussed ad nauseum on Meta.SE (e.g. my own question), people tend to see a trivial question (and trivial questions tend to become hot), visit the site from a larger site (e.g. SO), get 100rep association bonus.

    • First, as casual visitors, they create a perfect bikeshedding hurricane of people who aren't necesarily experts (and thus prone to bikeshedding) AND have enough rep to upvote

    • Second, they do NOT get enough rep to downvote (needs 125, not 100) and thus we don't get corresponding # of downvotes to offset the upvoters.

  • 1
    This is actually a really good explanation of the problem as I saw it. I noticed that there is very little incentive to answer a difficult question, as they basically get no views, where as dumb questions that could easily have been googled end up being a waterfall of reputation. It's good to know that it isn't just a problem around scifi.
    – Theik
    Oct 22, 2015 at 21:56

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