14
$\begingroup$

First of all, I was looking if such a topic existed already, but I couldn't find anything. I'm sorry if I missed it.

Relatively often, you will find a question that is just painfully easy to answer. I will make up one example, I could link questions if somebody doesn't know what I'm talking about, but for now I don't want to offend anybody of course ;).

In my world, there is no coffee. What will people drink instead?

And the answer would be something like

Water

So as for other SE, I completely get this sort of thing. If someone asks on physics why things fall towards earth, gravity is a legitimate answer. The OP might have never heard of the concept for a number of reasons and it's best to educate them. However, I fail to see the purpose on worldbuilding.

I had the impression the SE is there to help building worlds and not to build them because the OP can't do a basic google search or write a decent question.

I know some of those questions are insanely popular, I believe because anyone, even the gravity guy, is able to answer them. However I think especially because of their popularity, they also cast a bad light on worldbuilding and attract more trivial questions.

I recently flagged one of those questions (working on being able to closevote ;)) as too broad I think, however it was declined. I get it, why should asking about other drinks than coffee be off-topic if worded nicely, it's just trivial. I also answered one of those questions and got a lot of upvotes for my trivial, easy-to-google answer because of course the question went viral. It felt kind of bad tbo.

Many of those questions can be saved by asking for more information because the OP didn't want to hear about water but about something else, but not always. I'm not talking about sloppy questions in general here.

What should be done in case a question would be very easily resolved by a simple google search, 5 minutes of thinking about it or doing any research into the topic themselves?

What should be done with questions that have rather obvious, trivial answers? And are they on-topic and welcome?

And for me, personally, this question is important:

Are comments asking the OP to exclude the trivial answers to the question even desired or should I stop doing that?

There are different kinds of flavors, I want to include a third point:

What to do if answers are not necessarily trivial but so well-established that the OP must have encountered solutions to the question already. E.g.

How would medieval people react to someone with technology that looks like magic to them?

has been done and overdone so much that the standard answers should maybe be excluded. I feel like this question could actually be a fruitful one even if one excludes the cliches, but often these questions only yield more obvious, cliche answers and the rare creative or, perhaps in this case, historically acurate ones gets burried under 10 answers about burning someone alive.

This of course doesn't has to be the case, often creative answers can be found with many upvotes, but I'm talking about such questions in principal here. I personally feel that a question excluding the obvious answers is strictly better and the obvious answer spam hides and, I know this from personal experience, discourages the new/interesting/alternative solutions.

What to do about questions that do not exclude well established, run-of-the-mill solutions?

Let me know if the 3rd point should be best left to a separate topic.

I realize the subjectiveness of this, but everything is subjective to a degree.

$\endgroup$
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Subjectivity is okay on Meta, and even more so in [discussion] questions. It's on the main site that we try to avoid it. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 10 '18 at 12:15
16
$\begingroup$

What should be done with questions that have rather obvious, trivial answers? And are they on-topic and welcome?

Vote them down. Look at the hover text for the downvote button on a question. The tooltip is pretty clear: This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful. If one or more of those criteria apply, then you're fully within your rights to vote down the question. I would say don't even feel pressured into leaving an explanatory comment in such a case (except perhaps if the OP is a newcomer to the site and might need more guidance), because absent a comment, the default downvote reason should be assumed to apply. If there's something specific that could improve the question, though, it's usually a good idea to point that out in a comment. If you want your vote to be a bit more anonymous, you can do one some time before the other. (OP can see the time of the rep hit from the downvote, and if there's an explanationary comment within a few minutes of that, it's not too hard to guess who voted down even though the vote itself is still anonymous.)

You can also flag the question for review or (when you have the reputation to) vote to close. If the entirety of the question boils down to My world doesn't have coffee; what will people drink? then it's very likely (but not necessarily guaranteed) that the question is either too broad or primarily opinion-based (there are either too many possible answers, or there's no good way to judge how well a given answer actually answers the question).

Are comments asking the OP to exclude the trivial answers to the question even desired or should I stop doing that?

What to do about questions that do not exclude well established, run-of-the-mill solutions?

I'd say such comments are okay, but should be phrased in terms of (is there some / what is the) reason why you don't just use X? rather than please edit your question to say that X is not an acceptable answer. Make the OP explain their rationale rather than merely adding a list of disallowed answers to the question, as the reason for excluding X may or may not also exclude Y and Z as possible answers.

What to do if answers are not necessarily trivial but so well-established that the OP must have encountered solutions to the question already.

If a question has already been asked on the site, then flag or vote to close as a duplicate. If you can't quickly find the existing question, then even just a comment along the lines of "I know I've seen a question like this before, but can't find it" might jog some other person's memory. Typically you'll want to flag the newer question as a duplicate of the older one, so check the question dates, but exceptions may apply. Given the number of questions on different subjects that we have on the site, it's highly likely that some other question is at least related, even if it isn't necessarily a duplicate.

As a rule of thumb: a duplicate question is a question where any answer to one is an equally valid answer to the other. A related question, to me (and this is subjective), is a question that is likely to be of interest in the context of another question, but where the answers are going to be different (they might deal with different aspects of a larger question, for example). If it's your own question, or if you have an accepted or highly voted answer to the question you are referencing, it might be a nice touch to mention that, to keep people from thinking that you're just rep-whoring; in cases like that, I'll sometimes write something like "full disclosure: the accepted answer is my own" or "full disclosure: my own question".

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for this rather long answer. What I take from it is that questions with trivial answers are ok as long as there is not anything else wrong with it? If the coffee question was asked in what I would call average quality and effort for this SE, it would be fine? And if the question has not been asked on worldbuilding.se yet, point 3 is irrelevant? Is my interpretation correct? I do not want to downvote (possible first time) questions just because I think the answer is obvious but only for the reasons you mentioned- if they are completely welcome to ask easy questions $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Mar 10 '18 at 13:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Me I wouldn't say trivial questions are okay! I find them exceedingly annoying. In all honesty, these questions as worded are not about worldbuilding. The answers do not promote the making of an invented world or a better understanding of geopoesy as an art. I agree: downvote; flag for review; vote for deletion. I think writing a comment as to why the question is not appropriate is a good thing as it will (hopefully) educate both the OP and other new folks as to what kinds of questions not to ask! Bad questions simply attract more of the same. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Mar 11 '18 at 15:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas "In all honesty, these questions as worded are not about worldbuilding. The answers do not promote the making of an invented world or a better understanding of geopoesy as an art." I argued much the same thing back in Aug 2016 in my answer to *Is a "real world" question off topic?. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 11 '18 at 20:07
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 I'd rather say that trivial questions are not okay, but triviality is not a reason to vote to close. A question doesn't become off topic because it is somehow trivial. A question is almost certainly a duplicate (which is technically a close reason) if it's already been answered on the site, but whether the question is well-researched or not is, if you will, a different axis from whether a question should or should not be closed. Well-researched, along with well-presented, forms the upvote/downvote axis; topicality forms the close/keep-open axis. Both are valid, but different. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 11 '18 at 20:12
2
$\begingroup$

Had I found the "no coffee" question with only the "water" answer I'd be typing up a couple-paragraphs answer on the industrial revolution, caffeine, and tea.

On the other hand if the OP really does believe the answer is Water that merits a delete on the question as its seriously useless for anybody else who happens to run into it. And that yields the general answer. If it's a trivial question that can be answered with a trivial answer, blast.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ While the water question was an example, I don't think it is too far fetched when compared what I've encountered here. I still would rather not come up with examples myself as this might make people angry, however if you have one of your answers as an example how to answer such a question, why not link it and I can see if I like the approach and perhaps use it in the future. But as I said, whenever I answer such questions, and you sure get a lot of upvotes for any answer, I feel kind of like I need to take a shower ;) $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Mar 22 '18 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35: Here's one from stackoverflow that I had to beg to get re-opened so I could answer; it was headed towards closed trivial "No" which was wrong. stackoverflow.com/a/39105000/14768 $\endgroup$ – Joshua Mar 22 '18 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ As I stated I absolutely see the purpose of such questions on other se, my argument is I don't see it here $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Mar 22 '18 at 17:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .