Occasionally we can see comments similar to this:

What did your search engine say? What is still unclear with those search results?

These comments may or may not be accompanied with a close vote for "general reference", despite search engine results clearly are not included in our close reasons.

What should we do with such comments? Are they welcome? If not, what would be an acceptable comment?

  • As this is upvoted 6times now, would someone downvoting the answers below please add an answer for this so that the 'pro these comments' version can be voted upon? Or something else? 59 views in 5 days and zero progress on this despite a lot of opinion expressed in votes cancelling each other out? That is strange. Dec 3, 2018 at 21:25

2 Answers 2


Such comments are problematic in many ways:

  • All search engine content is generated by sites like us. Google depends on content we provide but we can't provide this content if we send people away.

  • Results from search engines will not be the same for everybody, especially not if they live in another country. What may be on top of the results for you may be not for somebody else. In addition results heavily depend on the search terms. Somebody with fewer Google Fu powers may not find an answer the same as you do.

  • Results found by a search engine will lead to another external site. Because of this we will send people away from German Language SE unless a duplicate question & answer was found. But we prefer to keep people with us. We want to give the answers they came here for. We should not tell people to look somewhere else.

  • Sending people to Google may be considered rude ("go away"). We also silently accuse them to not have done their homework prior to asking. We should not do that. Let us assume the best intention from any user.

  • There is no question "too easy" to answer. If somebody asks it they don't know the answer, full stop.

  • If we feel a question lacks effort, needs additional elaboration of their issue, or should give us the results of own research we should name that with being as specific as possible to help people to improve their question. It does not help to say "Did you Google that", instead say why we can not answer it without further details.

Because of this I do consider such comments not welcome here.

Therefore I suggest we flag all these comments for deletion, be it as no longer needed or if applicable as unfriendly.

Related discussions:

Embrace the non-Googlers
"What have you tried" epidemic
Ban LMGTFY (let me google that for you) links

  • 2
    Being quite lenient for what many here seem to judge "bad" Qs: some effort should be required, and the "epidemic" link supports that as well. I'd like a display of prior research in a Q. So, how would or should we nudge the askers politely into doing that? Nov 28, 2018 at 12:35
  • @LangLangC: For me I am rather tolerant in accepting easy to answer questions too. I may even like a question that is answered in the first of my (!) Google research but of course at least some research effort would be nice as it shows love for the question and respect for us. Why not e.g. ask what in addition to the obvious answer would be needed by the OP?
    – Takkat
    Nov 28, 2018 at 12:54
  • Sounds interesting, looking for good examples now. –– Search engines: their content is dynamic, meaning it changes a lot and filtered based on cookies, location, other bubbles etc. Then the algos used are currently designed to promote bad stuff. Let Youtube autoplay on for three videos in a row and you are in bullshit territory. Try to verify a quote and you start in that quality of territory. Optimising for quality seems incongruent with popularity. Nov 28, 2018 at 13:03

It depends...

I think, we should not ban or welcome those comments on a general basis, but decide from case to case. I think such comments are helpful and should be embraced in the scenario which meet the following conditions:

  1. If the correct answer appears in the top of Ecosia's search results.
  2. If an unknowing user can distinct the correct answer from other hits which appear in the top search results This is important, because being able to identify the correct answer among others knowing the correct answer already is pretty much different from identidfying the answer if you don't know it already.

All search engine content is generated by sites like us. Ecosia depends on content we provide but we can't provide this content if we send people away.

This argument does not apply in the scenario defined above, because Ecosia already has the content.

Tone is important

Of course, tone is important here. We should avoid to appear rude. Maybe we should agree on a fixed formula with a link to this discussion here to provide insights in the reasons of this comment.

This comment can be a help of its own

If user can search the content very easily on Ecosia, I tend to not be willing to answer the question. But I feel, a friendly comment pointing the user to a search engine might be even more helpful than absolute silence. Finding the correct search query which leads you to proper results is not easy sometimes and learning how to search things on the internet is an important skill which might have some domain-specific features. If we empower the questioner by telling them a way how they would have found the answer on their own, they might have learned something more than just the answer to their question.

Omitting those comments won't answer the question.

Of course, we want to have this question answered, because this is advertising our site on Ecosia. But banning those comments won't answer the question. But this is not what this discussion is about. A person commenting Search this on Ecosia! will probably not be turned into a person providing an answer by the policy which is not welcoming those comments any more. And this is important: We are not discussing here, whether the question should be closed - I'd say it should not necessarily be closed - or whether it should remain unanswered - I'd say people shoudld answer it if they like, I personally just don't have the motivation to do so.

  • 3
    It was on purpose we excluded search engines from the close reason "general reference" because we considered Google an the like (including Wikipedia BTW) not to be valid general reference publications. At least not to an extend where we say we don't want to compete with them. This discussion is network wide (see links in my answer).
    – Takkat
    Nov 28, 2018 at 10:34
  • @Takkat I do not argue to close these questions. Nov 28, 2018 at 10:36
  • 2
    Even if Google already had the answer in the first page of results from another site it should not stop us to become better, i.e. to be eager to also appear on the first page of search results, and eventually to appear on top ;)
    – Takkat
    Nov 28, 2018 at 10:41
  • 1
    @Takkat This argument is what the section Omitting those comments won't answer the question. in my answer is dealing with. I do not propose to not answer the question. But urging people to omit those comments won't make them answer the question. Commenting and answering are two independent questions. Nov 28, 2018 at 10:52

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