I have only really been active here for about 3 months, so I’m not very familiar with this site’s policies and ambitions. My main site is EL&U.

I often come across questions that exhibit no effort whatsoever on the part of the OP to investigate the topic, for example here, here and here.

When I look to close questions that show no effort whatsoever, I don’t know what to use as a closing reason. I am unsure about the homework reason; I don’t know if it’s homework or not. They are not unclear or too broad; they just show absolutely no research effort.

On ELU, we have a close option for questions that show no research which directs them to generally available resources. Online dictionaries, thesauruses, style and grammar sites abound, and we expect that anyone asking a grammar question, for example, has a grammar book to look at.

Not everyone who asks a question on Biology.se has a good biology text in front of them. But really, if I google their question as it is asked, and get numerous hits, that just annoys me. My preference would be that they at least make the effort to google their question.

Does Biology.se have a minimum expectation of it’s OPs? Is it accurately reflected in closing reasons? Should the closing reasons be re-examined and reworded?

  • $\begingroup$ Sometimes we classify no effort questions as no-effort homework and close them. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Dec 9 '14 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG - should that be expanded? $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Dec 9 '14 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ I am split between closing these questions in the way described and at least allow the more intelligent ones to explain people something. Not everybody has a master in biology. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mod Dec 9 '14 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ I feel that maybe the Homework close reason could be expanded to also include questions that overall lack basic background research. I agree that it can sometimes be unclear what close reason to use, which can to rather unclear feedback to the poster of the question (the official close notice after the Q is closed). $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Dec 9 '14 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ And it's even more annoying to see questions like your last example getting 12 votes - the reason of course being that it has been picked up as a Hot Network Question. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Dec 10 '14 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ Popular questions generally get more upvotes, as do questions which are more popular or everyday biology. See the ebola related questions. This doesn't make these questions worse than others. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mod Dec 10 '14 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ There should be a way to tag a question in a way that it is not picked up as Hot Network Question. And @Chris questions on applied everyday biology is fine but asking trivia is just too much. We are not here to spoonfeed the masses while they make no effort. You had argued that sometimes understanding wikipedia on a certain topic is difficult; yes in that case you have to search a string of topics. Have we not done it (we still do it for many things). I can understand anongoodnurse's irritation. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Dec 11 '14 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse What I had commented on the link in your question may seem contradictory to what I said above; I have closed many of such questions, However I sometimes cannot ascertain if the question is really a no-effort one. I find it out if I do a simple search and find an answer (or hint) myself but I cannot do that all the time for topics I am not greatly aware of. Vote them for closure but add a note saying that this is no-effort, along with a tiny justification. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Dec 11 '14 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG This is not always easy to follow stringently. I answer these questions as well sometimes when I have the feeling that the person asking hasn't understood the topic. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mod Dec 11 '14 at 12:55

One possible suggestion would be to adopt one of the close reason we have at Math.SX.

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The question, once enough users vote to close, is first put on hold so the user is aware that they should add context including what their thoughts are on the topic. Additionally, leaving comments letting them know that they need to provide what research they have conducted too should occur in conjunction with voting to close or flagging to close. Then if the user improves their post, the post will never receive the appropriate number of votes for closure and remain open.


My personal take on the subject is that the major reason to close should be that OP does not show a reasonable attempt at answering his own question. Maybe that should be made into a radio-button close reason?

If OP writes: "I know that X is related to Y, but I do not understand how those are related. Can someone help me?", I consider it valid, and the equivalent of the "minimal code sample" policy of Stackoverflow.

Now if OP writes: "how are X and Y related? Plz help me!", I consider it similar to the "give me teh codez" questions on Stackoverflow, and vote to close.

For an example, see this question.

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    $\begingroup$ Your first choice wouldn't be considered minimal code and closed on SO. On math, it wouldn't be consider showing work either and closed. Showing work means actually doing more than saying this is question I don't understand. $\endgroup$ – dustin Jan 24 '15 at 17:20

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