From Shog9's post on If you can Google it - don't ask it here:

If followed strictly, such a policy would effectively kill the site: anything you can't google won't be found by folks who could benefit from answers.

Should we consider rewording the "If you can Google it, don't ask it here" part of the FAQ and utilize more of the "General Reference" concept used on English Language and Usage SE?:

Here are two posts from English Language and Usage SE's Meta:

From EL&U Meta - Discourage General Reference Questions More Prominently in the FAQ:

“General reference” — questions that are too basic. If a single query in a well-known freely-available reference completely answers your question (for instance, searching for your question or a key word from it in Google, Wikipedia, or Dictionary.com), then you don’t need to ask it here. If you want more details than such sources give, then say so — make clear, in your question, what you want to know. Some guidelines.

General Reference close post notice, from EL&U Meta - Google is not a General Reference:

EL&U adds an additional close reason to handle questions that are "too basic":

general reference:

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.

What do you think? Here is a link to the current revision of the FAQ.

Note that I'm not suggesting lowering quality standards, just rewording the FAQ to address the issue of how welcoming we appear to new users.

1 Answer 1


Holy bad advice, Batman. What prompted any of that to be included as the opening introduction to your site?

… field of project management. Be respectful of the community and the time and dedication of its members. If you can Google it, don't ask it here.

(emphasis not mine… unfortunately)

Frankly, your FAQ should be thrown away and entirely rewritten. Attempting to preemptively enumerate all the ways a new user can go wrong using Stack Exchange will not prevent those problems. Your FAQ is likely the single least welcoming introduction I've ever seen to an SE site — and one few would likely read anyway.

Welcome to Project Management SE

The top of your FAQ should describe what the site is about. It should be descriptive and provide a somewhat inspirational call to purpose. But your central message has been wrought into a screen full of vague platitudes and non-information, laced with all ways you can get caught up in being wrong at Stack Exchange.

Take a look, in comparison, at the Super User FAQ. It covers what the site is about, and include a few points commonly misunderstood about what the site is not about. Look around the network, and fashion your FAQ after the better of them.

But addressing your question more specfically —

You should completely remove "Answers should not be Googleable" from your vocabulary because it is a gross mischaracterization of the issue.

We've experimented with a close reason called general reference to rid some sites of ultra-basic questions — questions that are asked in such a lazy fashion as to be easily findable in references designed to quickly and effortlessly find that information. For example:

Question: What is GTD?
Answer: "Grrr... Why don't you just look it up?!"

closed as [general reference]
This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.

Yes, there are certainly questions which are simply too trivial to ask. But it's not about being too easy or easily googlable… It's about boring to tears the very users you are trying to attract. There's nothing wrong with an intriguing easy question asked with care and forethought of purpose, but you have to stay keenly focused on asking questions as you would ask them to an "expert." It's all in the details and context.

So we have all-but-given up adding "general reference" as an explicit reason to close a question precisely because of this kind of misunderstanding. People are quick to conflate the problems of "general reference" questions with "anything that is easily googleable"… and the close hammer starts coming down without thought or understanding behind the prohibition.

Don't give it top billing in your FAQ.

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