Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

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Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby johnc0123456789 » 2015-04-23 06:03

Hi all. Maybe somebody can fill me in on forum etiquette here, because I hardly ever use these things. What do people hope to accomplish by responding to a question by saying "just google it" or "I found 18 million hits when I searched this"? Every single day I google something I want to know, find a nice forum or yahoo answers or something where somebody has asked my exact question, and the only responses are 1337 geniuses telling n00bzorz to google it. I understand that people asking the same questions over and over clogs up the forum with duplicates, but if you really want to make that point to somebody asking an old question, tell them what your search term is, show them a link to the previous thread, anything constructive.

If you really want to prove how snarky and obnoxious you are, post the url of a useful search at lmgtfy.com. Everybody knows about google, every forum has a sticky about what kind of research you're supposed to do before posting a question. News flash: it takes way longer to register at a forum and create a new thread than it does to search for something, and everybody knows that too. If you are really really annoyed by that umpteenth post about why little Timmy's wifi dongle doesn't work, just don't say anything! If you don't say anything, the stupid easily googleable question slides right off the bottom of the page. I promise.

Let me tell you guys a little SEO wisdom. When you do post non-answers, guess what that does... It makes the google crawlers see the page changing, lots of activity, so the algorithm assumes something useful is happening and it bumps up the pagerank. So by actively contributing to "google it" culture, you are actively making it harder to google it.

Anyway, I thought I'd post this rant here because this site is one of the least offensive in that category. There is a great community here and I hope things stay that way, but I keep seeing room for improvement. Maybe the administrators could follow the lead of e.g. askbuntu and mark questions "closed because previously answered" with a link to the original thread. (Maybe this is already happening and I haven't seen it because I lurk so seldom)
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby dasein » 2015-04-23 13:39

I can't speak for anyone else, but as a senior member of the JFGI/STFW brigade, I feel qualified to offer my personal rationale.

Happily, I've already written about it at some length in a couple of different threads.

So, if you want my personal answer, go read those existing threads. Post back if you still have questions.

(And no, I won't do your searching for you, either.)
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby mor » 2015-04-23 13:54

Hi John, I don't know where you come from (I don't mean geographically) and what's your goal with this, but I am very much in the mood for this particular topic so it is going to be fine anyway and here are my thoughts.

johnc0123456789 wrote:Hi all. Maybe somebody can fill me in on forum etiquette here, because I hardly ever use these things. What do people hope to accomplish by responding to a question by saying "just google it" or "I found 18 million hits when I searched this"?

It is hard to put all those who do so in the same category, there are genuine assholes, then there are users who are genuinely interested in teaching people how to do their homework, then there are emulators, usually users pretty new to a community, who basically just do like the more seasoned users who do so (regardless of how and why they do it).
Then there are the annoyed and tired of slackerish attitudes, who end up answering like that when they just can't help not replying at all.

There are more of course, so you see is not easy to just say is one beast.

johnc0123456789 wrote:Every single day I google something I want to know, find a nice forum or yahoo answers or something where somebody has asked my exact question, and the only responses are 1337 geniuses telling n00bzorz to google it. I understand that people asking the same questions over and over clogs up the forum with duplicates, but if you really want to make that point to somebody asking an old question, tell them what your search term is, show them a link to the previous thread, anything constructive.

I hear you, but the point is that even "telling you how to search" is very much out there already.
Like you said, every forum has stickies with guidelines and helping tips about how to be self-sufficient, but those who need them are those who won't read them anyway and are indeed those who need to be told to google it or to rtfm.

johnc0123456789 wrote:If you really want to prove how snarky and obnoxious you are, post the url of a useful search at lmgtfy.com. Everybody knows about google, every forum has a sticky about what kind of research you're supposed to do before posting a question. News flash: it takes way longer to register at a forum and create a new thread than it does to search for something, and everybody knows that too. If you are really really annoyed by that umpteenth post about why little Timmy's wifi dongle doesn't work, just don't say anything! If you don't say anything, the stupid easily googleable question slides right off the bottom of the page. I promise.

That's what I do.
I mean, beside hardly ever knowing how to help someone, which is my first impediment in replying in the first place, I seldom choose not to when the user is too sloppy and makes too little an effort for my standards.

But you should know how it is in the human nature that of wanting to "tell it" to someone, sometimes honestly trying to be constructive, sometimes, well, just because it feels good to do it.

johnc0123456789 wrote:Anyway, I thought I'd post this rant here because this site is one of the least offensive in that category. There is a great community here and I hope things stay that way, but I keep seeing room for improvement. Maybe the administrators could follow the lead of e.g. askbuntu and mark questions "closed because previously answered" with a link to the original thread. (Maybe this is already happening and I haven't seen it because I lurk so seldom)

There are many solutions that could be implemented as that one, the point is that unless and until there is a clear "ideological" agreement on how to deal with certain cases, there's little that one can do without seeming dictatorial.

Personally I think it should be a commonly agreed guideline that of not giving any attention to people that need to be told to google it, but what can you do, everybody does as he/she feels.

My advice?
Just as you suggest to those who answer "google it!" to simply move along, do the same when one of them bothers you.

Take care.
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby wizard10000 » 2015-04-23 14:16

I think every one of us was a n00b at some time.

For me, the failure to search boils down to one of a couple of scenarios.

1. User is new, frustrated and just wants it to work.

Usually I will answer the question and post a link to the relevant wiki article. I believe that generally by the time people land here they're pretty close to pulling their hair out and maybe haven't taken the time to read suggestions on how to search. This usually isn't the greatest time to correct someone's behavior so I refrain from that. I do think they deserve a couple of points for thinking to post here in the first place.

2. User is lazy, argumentative, trolling or otherwise can't be bothered to help resolve their own issue.

I generally skip these. Took me many years of foruming to learn that I don't have to respond to things that irritate me. There are plenty of people here who are happy to shoulder that responsibility :)

Couple other things I skip over - users asking about a Debian derivative; there are plenty of people who will direct them to the proper forum. My own personal pet peeve, but I don't answer Kali questions on *any* of the forums I frequent :)

Just my two cents -
we see things not as they are, but as we are.
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby acewiza » 2015-04-23 15:16

3. Some people stumble upon knowledge by accident.
(Like knowing they feel resentful when their knowledge is publicly labelled as demonstrably inferior.)

As with many of life's challenges, the subject's response to that stimulus (positive or negative) makes all the difference going forward.
Nobody would ever ask questions If everyone possessed encyclopedic knowledge of the man pages.
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby Bulkley » 2015-04-23 15:22

There are certain subjects that come up so regularly that we get tired of answering. Often we see three or four threads running at the same time. When I see new install wifi won't work I know that the poster didn't even try.

Then there are the Kali users asking amateur questions. :roll:

It is stunning how often that a new poster's problem has a solution in the first five of a Google search.
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby cpoakes » 2015-04-23 15:39

The majority of forum members think every question deserves a response. So either a common answer gets repeated again and again - a waste of volunteer resources, or someone gives the RTFM response hoping to mitigate the problem.

I assert every question does NOT deserve a response. If a question has been adequately answered in another post or has a common google answer, I ignore it and encourage others do the same. It mitigates the waste of volunteer time in favor of answering new problems. While an RTFM answer is more efficient that a repeat answer, no answer is even more efficient.

Some members will always be Good Samaritans™, willing to answer the same question again and again. If they think that is a good use of their time, let them do it. In cases where even they don't, the null response is interpreted as "No one knows" or "No one cares". The post creator will look elsewhere just like the RTFM response but is less likely to promote the opinion "The Debian forum is a bunch of assholes".
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby pylkko » 2015-04-23 16:45

I just googled your question:

Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?


guess what? 788000 responses. :wink:

It's definitely good practice to ignore questions where people are clearly trying to use you (the replier). Also, it's good practice to not even read posts with poor and undescriptive topics. I'm convinced that that way people learn their lesson much more efficiently than via the use of snarky remarks how ever satisfying it might be to pass those around.
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby kedaha » 2015-04-23 17:48

Maybe such people have a strong preference for Google and wish to encourage its use rather than other search engines like DDG?
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby mor » 2015-04-23 20:02

pylkko wrote:It's definitely good practice to ignore questions where people are clearly trying to use you (the replier).

While, as I said already, I agree that the ignoring tactic is the more effective, I find it hard to think that even a small number of those users (obvious trolls not included of course) want to use those who will reply.
At least not in a malicious sense.

I think most repeated questions are simply the product of a certain naïveté towards the implications of "just asking to have the answer" in a internet board. After all we live in a world where the experts in every field do answer to our questions without telling us to learn the craft or expecting us to become self sufficient.
And the fact that they generally do so for a fee doesn't change much in the overall paradigm.

In fact, in the real world, experts are in shops and offices and other places of business, so we grow up with the obvious understanding that such expertise comes at a price. In the interwebz this very understanding is not so implicit anymore and especially in places that are called "support" or "help" forums, the nature of consultations with experts becomes more like that of real life friends and relatives with a certain expertise that we constantly and gratuitously pester with the silliest of questions for which we do not care learning anything about, rather than… an academic-like exchange of ideas and sharing of knowledge.

Cheers
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby kreemoweet » 2015-04-23 21:40

Some folks simply deserve to get snarled at. For instance, those who barge into a forum, without making the slightest effort to learn what the
rules/expectations are, and quite obviously without having made the slightest attempt to find an answer "on their own". It's clearly a
"screw everyone else, 'cuz it's all about ME" sort of attitude. It would be fabulous if such posts could be instantly locked by a moderator, with a pointer to the
"What we expect you to have done first ... " thread. Failing that, it's left for whoever's on the spot to follow their inclinations.

Whenever I see someone throwing their pop bottle or candy wrapper on the ground, for "others" to deal with, I will verbally chastise them. I believe it is
socially corrosive not to do so. I do not for a second believe that ignoring or accomodating such behavior works towards anything positive. It's the same
deal on internet forums.

A number of years ago, the proprietor of the site www.tweakguides.com attempted to run a Windows support forum where RTFM'ing was vigorously enforced, with onerous
penalties dealt to violators. Accordingly, many posts began with a lengthy and tiresome list of resources previously consulted. There was nevertheless a pretty fair amount
of bickering about those rules. The proprietor eventually got plumb worn out from the battles, and disestablished the forum. It was not at all evident that the "quality" of
the forum was better than elsewhere.
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby johnc0123456789 » 2015-04-24 03:03

I feel ya kedaha, I tried to use duck duck go for a long time and was successful at finding obvious things but the quality just wasn't there for obscure work-related stuff or long phrases, so I've drifted back to evil. I intended my question to be taken as search engine agnostic, but google is a verb nowadays so I used the most well-understood term. I share your concerns.

So some people just think it's fun to be obnoxious. If that's your real personality, fine, sorry bout your ****. But I doubt the JFGI practitioners act like that when they aren't hiding behind a computer screen.

It is a valid point that people asking questions that make it obvious they haven't done their research need to be told as much, but there is no need to be a jerk about it. Using a search engine is a skill that must be learned, maybe they are kids or new to technology/linux in general. By posting obnoxious responses that don't contain any information, you are making it harder to do the research you want people to do because it makes the useless boorishness show up in searches. In many cases, you might know a useful search term that the OP does not. It doesn't mean they didn't try to search, it just means they didn't know how to formulate a useful search phrase.

mor: I think the understanding among grownups in a forum like this one is that the advice you get is valuable. When I post a question and I haven't been around for awhile, I start feeling guilty and comb the forum for questions to which I feel I can contribute. Karma, you know?
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby alan stone » 2015-04-24 07:24

1) because (see the signature)

2) other becauses
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby mor » 2015-04-24 08:44

It seems to me that there's a tendency to see this matter as a mere black and white dichotomy: either people asking easily searchable questions are pure evil or they are purely innocent like children.

This way it is obvious that attitudes and responses are either only gonna be unproductively behavior dictating or, just as unproductively, behavior enabling.
There is instead a wide gradient of cases and the vast majority falls well within a larger gray area of users who are simply oblivious of all our concerns.

We quarrel at lengths about the proper way to respond to them, long before they even have the problem, and for a much much longer time they even care about their problem. For us all these matters are important because we want to be in the community, we want the board to be sleek and efficient, but they don't even imagine that a proper procedure to ask exists and, even more to the point, that it exists because of the delusional expectation we have that every person who uses a computer, even one with Debian on, should be interested like us in learning and understanding how the stuff works, rather than just having it work, automagically.

Candidly they pose their questions, not like children, not like primadonnas.
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Re: Why do people respond to questions with "google it"?

Postby alansmithee » 2015-04-24 11:18

kreemoweet wrote:Some folks simply deserve to get snarled at. For instance, those who barge into a forum, without making the slightest effort to learn what the rules/expectations are, and quite obviously without having made the slightest attempt to find an answer "on their own". It's clearly a "screw everyone else, 'cuz it's all about ME" sort of attitude. It would be fabulous if such posts could be instantly locked by a moderator, with a pointer to the "What we expect you to have done first ... " thread. Failing that, it's left for whoever's on the spot to follow their inclinations.

I hold a different viewpoint on the matter. Let's say A posts a message that may be contrary to the rules/expectations of the forum. B decides to follow his inclinations and responds with a post hoping to instruct A that her post didn't meet forum expectations and she should search the web before posting.

Now it seems to me that if A's post is expected to comply with forum rules and expectations, then it would only make sense that B's posting should as well. However, there is a forum rule that posts should be on topic for a particular thread and B's response is not. There is also an expectation that when encountering a post that violates the rules, one should report the post to the staff, not take it upon one's self to censure the poster.

By responding to A's post, B actually makes it more difficult for the staff to perform their duties. Now they have not just one post to assess, they have two. What if B is wrong? What if things have changed recently and information available from a web search is no longer completely valid? Or a manufacturer has modified their hardware such that existing software no longer functions? Or what if A has encountered a previously undiscovered bug but hasn't realized it?

(For what it's worth, I recently finished participating in a discussion that started this way but after a week of several people testing code, sharing experiences, and proposing theories, eventually concluded with a bug report being submitted to GTK. This bug has likely been around forever and we would not have discovered it had the initial response to the original post been "just google it".)

Let's go a step further and say that C feels the same as I and chooses to respond to B's post, admonishing him for being off-topic/rude/mistaken (take your pick). Of course C's post suffers all the same problems as B's, but then "it's left for whoever's on the spot to follow their inclinations", isn't it?

Of course C isn't very likely to post such response, having realized how it would be somewhat hypocritical to submit a post that violates the forum rules to admonish someone for submitting a post that violates the forum rules -- as well as suspecting that D would probably respond arguing that B didn't violate the rules, then E would post that A also didn't violate the rules, and next thing you know a dozen posts have been made that have nothing at all to do with the topic of the thread and so a moderator comes along, locks the thread, and all is well. At least all is well for B, he's got his message across, A has actually chosen to search elsewhere for answers, and after all "screw everyone else, 'cuz it's all about ME".

kreemoweet wrote:Whenever I see someone throwing their pop bottle or candy wrapper on the ground, for "others" to deal with, I will verbally chastise them. I believe it is socially corrosive not to do so. I do not for a second believe that ignoring or accomodating such behavior works towards anything positive. It's the same deal on internet forums.

No, it's not same deal. It would be the same deal if, having seen someone throw a candy wrapper on the ground, you wrote a note on a piece of paper saying how wrong it is to throw paper on the ground, and you placed that note on the ground next to the wrapper.
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