A questions like this

Why are my caves warm with nobody heating them?


How long would the St. Louis arch stand

For me they show no, or very badly done research. With first answer with four upvotes is something that OP, in comment, states he knew about.

Should such questions be answered or closed to be changed by OP's to show their research and why they looking for worldbuilding answers?

Here is a new question that presents what I'm thinking about Metal set of teeth and fingernails at a medieval time

There are three Upvotes versus mine one downvote and an answer that is basically "yes. Here is 1/1000 of what would you get if you typed the question into Google"

So it's a very low quality question that is likely to attract low quality answers. As this is new user so I would like to avoid what @JBH is mentioning, VTC and downvoting (but I would like to do both).

I would prefer if the two people who upvoted my comment would rather downvote the question. As I think the feeling was the same "research was done badly".


3 Answers 3


Generally lack of research on its own is no reason for closure. In principle any worldbuilding question can be answered with a deep enough research. Sometimes the research is just high school level, sometimes is PhD level.

Lack of research for "easy" questions is a good reason for downvoting, though.


If you mouse-over a question's down-vote arrow you'll discover it says...

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear and not useful.

If I remember correctly, Stack Exchange penalizes questioners more quickly based on down votes than it does closures (SE has changed in the last 9 months... so maybe that's no longer true). Three or four heavily down voted questions can get you auto-banned.

A question should be closed when it's so far off base that it must be closed to stop unwashed barbarians poorly educated or inexperienced respondents from filling SE's databases with poor quality or useless answers to a question that, in all other respects, actually deserves to be here. (IMO, this should be done so quickly that a clap of thunder is heard when it happens.)

A down vote, on the other hand, says, "This question is in one way or another beneath our contempt." Which is a ruthless but concise way of saying, "we're nice people, but we're volunteering our limited time and considerable experience with no compensation other than the joy of helping others and you're taking advantage of that because you didn't bother to take the tour, read anything in the help center, look at meta, bother with the Sandbox, or even get off your lazy rear end to Google the answer for yourself. Grow up, move out of your parent's house, get a job, and show us a little respect. We really aren't here to write your book for you."

Down voting and VTCing should be done when the OP needs to be slapped so hard it creates a genetic memory.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A guideline: if the question is very poorly researched = downvote; if the question needs more research to be answerable = VTC as needs clarity or needs focus. The two are not mutually exclusive, nor do they need to come in tandem. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    May 12, 2020 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ While I don't disagree, in particular in re clapping the unwashed barbarians with swift and ruthless claps of thunder, I think the basic flaw within the SE system is that up/down voting is perceived, across all online communities, as a mere "i like it" or "cool, creative question" vs "i don't like it" or "i disagree with the premise" system. There's also a psychological factor: downvotes are only visible when there are insufficient counterbalancing upvotes. If SE had really wanted to use the downvote as a viable metric, the Red Number would be visible next to the Green Number. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 12, 2020 at 15:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas that's a good point - but we're regrettably stuck with what we have. Inevitably, up/down voting expresses popularity and VTCing is a super-down-vote, in which case the average user can (a) express happiness/unhappiness, (b) ignore it, or (c) educate through comments. Personally, I usually favor (c), but I do advocate for "proper use" of the system. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 12, 2020 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ You're quite right! Recent case in point is the serial killer query that just popped up in Main. I think if we (clean cut civilised types!) get to a bad question quick enough, things can work out as you suggest. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 12, 2020 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ Research into review decision making shows the faster the process the worst the outcomes, The thesis that closing questions as fast as possible is best is on the wrong side of reality. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    May 29, 2020 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android while I understand your point about voting and certainly can see it in common up/down voting - I've also seen the consequence of bad questions closed too slowly to agree with your conclusion. There's an unwritten rule on SE that editing a question in a way that invalidates answers is a sin (despite written rules that beg for questions to be edited for improvement). Therefore, I still maintain that bad questions should be instantly closed. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 29, 2020 at 16:18

This is exactly what comments are for.

The comment section is designed to communicate with the querent so we can point out things like research deficiencies.

The best way to handle these kinds of questions, I think, is to do exactly what you did! You engaged the OP and asked about research already done. It could be that the OP did not know or did not think to make note of that in the question's body. But then, another person suggested to the OP that she do exactly that: edit that comment into the body of the question! This way, at least, potential respondents have an idea what the OP knows and what has already been researched.

Opinion: I wouldn't say the St. Louis Arch question is bad because of "lack of research" --- after all, they only way to actually research that particular question is to, well, stop maintaining it and wait for it to fall down! (You might be able to get varying approximations with computer or miniature modelling; but it's just not the same!)

This question actually has a better reason to close (not about worldbuilding).

I think it is certainly a valid response to VTC such a question! This tool, when used early and when used often, allows querents to resolve issues with their questions. For preference, before they get six answers and one with a green checkmark!

  • $\begingroup$ If you're suggesting voting to close a question because of lack of research, then you're going against the Stack Exchange model. The hover text for downvoting a question is: "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    May 7, 2020 at 12:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre - indeed not! That paragraph didn't get moved back into the right place! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 7, 2020 at 19:45

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