I had an interesting debate elsewhere on SE about closing poorly researched questions. Basically the consensus came down to the following meta posts:

Based on this one could conclude that part of the SE goal is to

...link Google searches to somewhere useful. By answering questions properly, instead of saying 'just Google it', you hopefully set up a definitive answer that Google will find for evermore.

  • Why then is Biology.SE so keen on throwing out basic questions that are Google'able?
  • Isn't everyone answering questions primarily through a Google search? How many questions did you answer without it? Aren't we throwing babies away with the bathwater?
  • Aren't we overusing the close voting based on homework grounds?
  • Was the over-closing perhaps born out of the urge to get out of beta? Shouldn't we abandon this strategy therefore since we are graduated?

I know how How do I ask a good question? is defined and see How much should we enforce background research?, but I found the excessive use of "Have you done any research?" in answer to questions food for thought nonetheless.

  • $\begingroup$ Both the MSE posts that you linked are about sarcastic responses to googlable questions. The point here, is not about LMGTFY. And have we not discussed the homework policy several times already? $\endgroup$
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Yes, but isn't the sarcastic response translatable to the overt use of close--because-of-being-homework? I find that the message of homework is often pretty sarcastic. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ But what is your question particularly addressing that we have not discussed before. Posts such as meta.biology.stackexchange.com/q/1818/3340, meta.biology.stackexchange.com/q/783/3340 and many others have already asked about this issue. This is a duplicate if you do not raise a different issue. $\endgroup$
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ meta.biology.stackexchange.com/questions/1818/… is open-ended and meta.biology.stackexchange.com/questions/1818/… is as well 7 months old, i.e., before graduation and loosely answered. My last bullet still stands $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ I am uncomfortable still with many closes and the "poorly researched" is highly ambiguous. Moreover, nothing changes to the silly homework tag. Action is needed $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ But you yourself have VTCed many questions as "poorly researched". I do not think the "homework" close reason is used that frequently. I am failing to understand what kind of action is required. No we did not deliberately close question so that we can graduate; those questions were genuinely worth closure and some had been lying around for quite some time. Another post that is related meta.biology.stackexchange.com/q/1847/3340 $\endgroup$
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ I know I did close to vote quite a few, because I thought it site policy. I indeed have abandoned the use of the homework tag, but others haven't. Point is that I find the poorly researched close votes ambiguous, and perhaps unnecessary, because many of the popular highly upvoted questions are the googleable ones, otherwise they wouldn't have been answered so quickly in the first place. I mean, it's use is inconsistent, and often new users are hit the hardest. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ Enfin, maybe it's just me questioning the consistency of this site's close vote tendency. Close it if you will, as so many other questions are. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that the homework close reason is used very inconsistently. Any question that has an answer can be answered with google. I try to use this close reason only for questions that are blatantly homework. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ Personally, I think we should change the text of the homework close reason to something along the lines of: ===== Homework questions and trivial questions about basic biological concepts are off-topic on Biology unless you have shown your attempt at an answer. For more information see our homework policy. ===== This more closely matches the actual text of the homework policy, and would better explain question holds to everyone. I was thinking of making it a feature request... $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo I agree that a rewording is needed, which is also the topic of this post: Updating statement on closed reason for no work shown $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater Neither that question, nor the one linked from it, are actually feature requests. Do you know if an official feature request has been made, or is it just discussion up to this point? $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Commented Sep 6, 2015 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo I think that the question I linked is pretty clear as a request: "Therefore, I suggest that the word homework be removed from the close reason. I believe we should keep the close reason for not showing work though." (also see answers to that question). This issue has been discussed many times, with direct suggestions to the moderators, so they should be aware of the situation. However, some feel that there is no consensus, and/or that the change is so large that more discussions are needed. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater what I meant was that none of the questions have been tagged as [feature-request], which is the formal process for asking for a change. I'm kind of busy today, but if you want to summarize and link to the extant debate on the issue in a new feature request, I'll vote for it and answer with my version of the close reason. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ +1 I do think Biology is closing a bit more than it should. GUYS, I know how good CVs are. I'm a big fan of them. But doing them a lot backfires. I still need to get some data to see if you're really closing a lot. I may come back with a meta post. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 21:18

1 Answer 1


I believe this is a case of the help vampire issue, first identified in this post.

Quote from article follows (emphases mine):

Identifying Help Vampires can be tricky, because they look like any ordinary person (or Internet user, whichever is lesser). But by closely observing an individual's behavior using this handy checklist, you too can identify Help Vampires in the field:

  • Do they ask the same, tired questions others ask (at a rate of once or more per minute)?
  • Do they clearly lack the ability or inclination to ask the almighty Google?
  • Do they refuse to take the time to ask coherent, specific questions?
  • Do they think helping them must be the high point of your day?
  • Do they get offensive, as if you needed to prove them why they should use Ruby on Rails?
  • Are they obviously just waiting for some poor, well-intentioned person to do all their thinking for them?
  • Can you tell they really aren't interested in having their question answered, so much as getting someone else to do their work?

All of the cases which I emphasised have something to do with the issue of poorly researched questions. They cause a large host of issues with the site, and should be shot down whenever possible, as this would damage the community otherwise.

As MattDMo has said in the comments, I also believe that the text of the homework close should be changed to better reflect the text of the homework policy, which states the reasons in better detail.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure everyone who doesn't know to Google is a help vampire. Most of the times I don't know what I should search for to get an answer. But yes, almost all of the help vampires disguise their intents in a Googleable question. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M come on. Google is more popular than stackexchange. It is perhaps the most popular website at the moment. It is impossible to not know how to use google. In some cases searching for the right keyword may be difficult but a basic attempt is possible. All we expect is that basic attempt. $\endgroup$
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:55

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