Let's say I have question. Because I am a noob, I don't know the answer to the question already. I want to be a good citizen, and avoid getting my question closed, so I follow the "How to ask" guide. The first subheading of that guide says:

Search, and research

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

Both of the links in the guidance link to the search feature on webapps.stackexchange.com ,so the implication is that I need to search on this website first. I do, and I do not find a duplicate.

Should the community close the answer as "not clear or lacking details" if there's a good chance that there is an answer elsewhere? Maybe it's in the product documentation of the web app I'm asking about. Maybe it's on a blog post. Maybe it's on another StackExchange site. Is the right course of action to close this question? If so, should it be required to point out where the answer is elsewhere on the web?

For context, here is the help text shown to the user when a question is closed as needing "details or clarity":

Closed. This question needs details or clarity. It is not currently accepting answers.

Add details and clarify the problem you’re solving. This will help others answer the question. You can edit the question or post a new one.


2 Answers 2


Let's get back to the vision and goal of Web Applications StackExchange. This is from the tour:

Web Applications is a question and answer site for power users of web applications. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about web applications.

The goal is to make WebApps a place where you can find your answers to every relevant question. In that way, it is similar to Wikipedia (a comparison that the founders of StackExchange/Stack Overflow made). Jeff Atwood said:

Stack Overflow ultimately has much more in common with Wikipedia than a discussion forum. By this I mean questions and answers on Stack Overflow are not primarily judged by their usefulness to a specific individual, but by how many other programmers that question or answer can potentially help over time. I tried as hard as I could to emphasize this relationship from launch day in 2008. Note who has top billing in this venn diagram.

Venn Diagram with "Wiki", "Digg/Reddit", "Blog", "Forum" overlapping

Of course, Stack Overflow is targetting programmers, and this community Web Applications is targetting users of web applications, so the target audience is different. But this vision of being similar to a wiki applies just as much to WebApps Stack Exchange. Again, the tour of Web Applications says that the goal is to "build a library of detailed answers to every question about web applications" (emphasis mine). That's true whether or not the answer can be found elsewhere on the web.

Answers here on Web Apps are so much more useful to the community. They can be upvoted, downvoted, edited, and commented on. Alternate answers can be provided. Sometimes blog posts are out of date or even wrong. Even official documentation can be confusing or not complete enough. Links can break. Blog posts can get removed from the web. To top it all off, questions and answers posted here are licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA, which is another similarity with Wikipedia.

Of course, this does not mean that we want duplicates on the website. Wikipedia doesn't have duplicate pages, and neither should this website. If the question has already been asked before on WebApps Stack Exchange, then it should be closed as a duplicate, of course. But if it hasn't, then it shouldn't be closed as duplicate. And it definitely shouldn't be closed as unclear or lacking detail just because there is an answer online somewhere, questions should only be closed as unclear or lacking detail if they are in fact unclear or lacking detail.

If you feel the question "does not show research effort; it is unclear or not useful", as the tooltip says, then feel free to downvote the question and move on. But don't close a question just because you feel that the manual contains the answer somewhere else online.


The premise of this question is wrong starting by positioning yourself as a noob.

The same answer applies to What part of the question "Can I permanently hide the YouTube chat window?" needs details or clarity?

From the tour (emphasis mine)

Web Applications is a question and answer site for power users of web applications.

From Wikipedia

A power user is a user of computers, software and other electronic devices, who uses advanced features of computer hardware,[1][2][3] operating systems,[4] programs, or websites[5] which are not used by the average user. A power user might not have extensive technical knowledge of the systems they use[6] but is rather characterized by competence or desire to make the most intensive use of computer programs or systems.

Stack Exchange doesn't work well for and with "noobs", either because they really don't have the skills, knowledge and the attitude or because they play the "noob" role to exploit others. In the past these kind of users have being referred as Help Vampires, Mechanical Turk, and these kind of questions as RTFM that nowadays are discouraged. The experience that have seen on several sites when this kind of questions are allowed is that the site is not able to attract real subject matter experts.

The invitation for the people that recently is comming to Meta Web Applications because one question was closed, is to make a self assesment about if have being approaching Web Applications as a power user or as noob. Sometimes just an attitude swith might be enough.

When asking a question in Meta

  • Bring to practical, detailed questions that are worthy to be analysed rather than speculative cases.

When asking about why a question was closed

  • Look at the question content first than anything else
  • Nowadays Google, Facebook, etc. have applications for multiple platforms. This site is only about apps for the Web.
  • If you spend more time on other Stack Exchange sites, please bear in mind that each site has its own workings and what is allowed in other sites might not be allowed here.
  • If learned about the workings of Web Applications long time ago, please bear in mind that there are several things that have changed and that in process to be change.

Askers of main site questions

  • Don't tell I tried, show what you tried and why it didn't work
  • Don't tell I searched, show what you found and why it didn't meet your needs

If they are not able to try anything, if they are not able to find anything, then they aren't ready to ask a practical, detailed question, and what ever question that thay have asked, it's very unlikely to be a good fit for this site nowadays.

In any case, closing a question is not as we were slamming a physical door in the human face or the asker, answerers or viewers, it just mean that the question is not a good fit for this site as it was when it was closed.

Pleae bear in mind that some questions might be improved and might be reopened.


Web Applications

Meta Stack Exchange

  • 2
    You didn't answer the question, though. Should questions be closed just because there is answer somewhere else on the web already?
    – Flimm
    Apr 4, 2023 at 14:56
  • 2
    You picked up on this sentence in the question post: "Because I am a noob, I don't know the answer to the question already." You said that WebApps Stack Exchange is for power users, not noobs. But the way the word "noob" here was used, it was used to describe people who don't know the answer to the questions that they post. Am I to take it that only people who know the answer to their own question are welcome here on Web Apps SE?
    – Flimm
    Apr 4, 2023 at 14:59

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