How should we approach questions that could just as well be answered via a (very simple) web search?

As an example see this question about the term 'Jazz Standard':

What is a "jazz standard"?

I answered it but couldn't really add anything further apart from the quote and the link.

I always feel a bit 'dirty' answering questions like this but I guess it beats answering 'just do a Google search'!?

3 Answers 3


Allow these questions

Stack Exchange as a whole considers these questions to be on-topic.

I would also agree. As a programmer, I will often search something on Google, even if it's simple, just to see what Stack Overflow has to say about it. I could Google python remove item from list, and read the documentation. But, instead, I can find a well written answer, with examples, specific to the question I'm asking, that I know that almost 400 people agree with.

I don't have to look around and find the exact thing I'm looking for on a webpage that would print across 50 pages when printed out.

Rephrasing the original Stack Overflow announcement to fit this site:

It is by music fans, for music fans, with the ultimate intent of collectively increasing the sum total of good music knowledge in the world. No matter what music you listen to, or what genre you prefer. Better music appreciation is our goal.

Downvote when necessary

That being said, I think questions can get too simple. Who are the members of the Beatles? would make for a terrible question. However, I would consider the question not useful instead of off-topic, and think it should be downvoted.

  • Amen. FWIW, we went through this on SFF.SE. Originally, we had "General Reference" close reason. Eventually, the site was persuaded to get rid of it for a variety of valid reasons. Results? Since then, we had absolutely NO spike of "trivia" "LMGTFY" questions that would previously have been closed as GR. And the rare GR questions get the deserved downvotes
    – DVK
    Apr 22, 2015 at 4:24

Generally, I'm not a huge fan of these kind of questions, but there have been many on SE sites.

More specifically though, on the question you mentioned, you can see that I did answer with info from experience and not Wikipedia.

It was a question that could be answered with something apart from the wikipedia excerpt.


I am not a fan of questions that can be answered with a simple google. I know I asked (at least) one myself - e.g. What's the shortest number one chart hit? - but though I think this is an interesting question (and answer) in itself, that answer is easy to find, so the question's presence here adds little value to this site.

in Are "trivia" questions allowed? I suggested it should be off-topic to just ask someone to look something up for you in an easily-accessible catalogue or list, but that's currently at '-1'. Still, my suggestion would be that questions whose answers are easy to find at least one well-known source that is unlikely to disappear should be off topic. I'm not sure if that jibes with the general stack exchange philosophy, but I think it would increase the perceived level of quality and usefulness of this site.

  • 1
    I made similiar comments here meta.musicfans.stackexchange.com/questions/63/… and here meta.musicfans.stackexchange.com/questions/5/…, which don't appear to have been particularly well received. I'm genuinely baffled as to why these simple questions are asked on here at all. If somebody wants to know what, for example, The Who's first album was called, then it really doesn't get any simpler than google.co.uk/search?q=the+who+first+album
    – Carl H
    Mar 4, 2015 at 11:55
  • 4
    Agree - I don't think such questions are "increasing the sum total of good music knowledge in the world".
    – user16
    Mar 4, 2015 at 12:20
  • The problem with this is that "whose answers are easy to find" is impossible to define Mar 4, 2015 at 18:17
  • Have to agree with Carl and topo. Sometimes it seems it is quicker to do a search for the answer than it would have taken the OP to write the question on SE. Then you see a host of answers that use Wikipedia as a source reference and don't add anything or than regurgitating easily found facts. Mar 4, 2015 at 19:48
  • @ZachSaucier it's impossible to define perfectly - but does that mean that it's impossible to define usefully? I had a go in this answer (bolded section...)
    – user16
    Mar 4, 2015 at 20:25
  • 2
    @RogerMellie and in some cases, the Wikipedia entries aren't as good an answer as a knowledgeable person could give from their own knowledge or by synthesising a number of sources. And when Wikipedia improves their page, our version will be left, fossilised... I think if you want to just "point out that the Wikipedia page is relevant", a comment with a link is sufficient.
    – user16
    Mar 4, 2015 at 20:28
  • @topomorto The problem with "usually" (essentially the same as "usefully") as opposed to "perfectly" is that "usually" means that there are exceptions which don't follow the norm, therefore don't follow the rules. That means inconsistent moderation which always leads to confusion and strife Mar 4, 2015 at 22:42
  • @ZachSaucier but aren't very few of the rules on SE sites defined perfectly? They'll always have grey areas around the edge, if only because people interpret words differently. Can you point me to a perfectly-defined rule?
    – user16
    Mar 4, 2015 at 22:44
  • There's always some interpretation given that rules can't cover every single issue explicitly. What I'm referencing is that "easy to find" is completely based on the individual's skills at searching and "well-known" is an opinion, not a rule. As for looking at clear examples, the close reasons on StackOverflow are a pretty good one Mar 4, 2015 at 22:52
  • @ZachSaucier the close reasons on SO didn't start off so good - they've been through a lot of refinement, and that refinement is still happening, so they're not seen as perfect. I take your point about searching skills, but I think we can assume that people are at least up to typing the title of the question asked into google instead of here.
    – user16
    Mar 4, 2015 at 23:00

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