We've had a question about a homework tag before and the consensus was to not have one. However I'm a little bothered that we're getting questions that have absolutely no effort to answer from common sources (not just this site but e.g. Wikipedia or a simple web search). Some questions also do sound like straight "do my homework for me" requests (although not indicated as such).

So I'm asking for opinions on whether we should make an absence of effort to do prior research to try and answer a question a reason to close.

For example I'd suggest that "I checked Wikipedia but I don't quite get why X implies Y, please explain." would be fine (minimal effort and needs help understanding a concept) but "Name three X type objects" would not (no effort and a trivial web search gets the answer).

One objection (playing devil's advocate) is that we may discourage people genuinely trying to learn. In some ways this question is also asking to what extent we view Astronomy SE as a teaching site, I suppose. I confess I'm ambivalent about this.

Opinions ? Alternative ideas ?

Note : not suggesting adding a homework tag, just looking for a community consensus on certain types of questions.


In my opinion, no research effort does not necessarily mean that the underlying question is bad, just the post--which to me means downvote, not close (unless you want to close as unclear).

However, I think what you're ultimately getting at is something like the History SE custom close reason:

This question is too basic; it can be definitively answered by a single link to the relevant topic on Wikipedia or another standard reference source. If you are instead questioning the correctness of a reference source, please edit the post to supply a link and explain what you find unclear, or why you believe it to be wrong or incomplete.

I do think there could be some value to having this type of close reason here.


I've definitely noticed several of this type of question coming up, including from experienced users with high reputation scores who should probably know better. While some people seem to think that we should be trying to cover all possible subjects, this seems to me to be more the kind of goal an encyclopaedia should be striving for, rather than a Q&A site.

I also feel that asking these kind of basic questions is just asking other people to spend time that you could not be bothered to spend yourself, particularly when the answer is right there in the question. While this might be somewhat forgivable for a new user, it does imply a lack of basic respect for the time of people who could answer the question.

The "too basic" close reason that called2voyage quotes in their answer would seem to go some way to addressing the concerns about deteriorating question quality.

And if people really feel that the basic research requirement will cause us to fail to cover certain topic areas, there is always the possibility to self-answer questions.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The custom close reason configuration has changed significantly since we created our last close reason. I suggest creating a new meta question proposing the creation of a "too basic" close reason and asking for answers to suggest the wording for the various fields, described below: $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 26 '20 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ 1. Brief description - Briefly describe why the question is being closed $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 26 '20 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ 2. Usage guidance - Give the user guidance as to when they should select this option $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 26 '20 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ 3. Post notices a. Close description - When a post is closed with a single community-specific close reason, this message will be displayed publicly above any private guidance. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 26 '20 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ b. Post owner guidance - Provide meaningful actions a user can take to either get their question reopened or have a more favorable outcome in the future. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 26 '20 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ c. Privileged user guidance - Provide guidance for users with the reopen privilege so they can constructively engage the post owner and reopen the question if appropriate. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 26 '20 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ I support @called2voyage's suggestion of a "too basic" close reason. Such an option already exists in the SE family of sites: EL&U has a site-specific option for lack of basic research. Under the Close option of "A community-specific reason [This question doesn’t meet a English Language & Usage Stack Exchange guideline.]", one of the sub-options is: "Please include the research you’ve done [....] Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic." $\endgroup$ – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Oct 30 '20 at 8:52

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