Lately, a perspective regarding the effort put into questions (eg, lack of research) and how to handle these questions have come into question.

Do we close these questions as off-topic or downvote? The help center suggests to "use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post."

First, What are the rules regarding player movement in a lineout.

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the asker gives no indication of performing basic checks on whether any rules apply, and adequate official resources are easily available that do so, to far greater depth than is possible on SE. Follow-up questions after reading the laws are preferable.

There is a valid counterpoint about allowing these questions based on previous, allowed, and well-received questions.

Nonetheless, this still received more than one close vote under the guise of "lack of research."

However, with this question, Ball goes through the strike zone, but the catcher doesn't catch the ball?

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is too easy to look up and OP did no research.


That's not a valid reason to close; a vote to close should not be used as a "super downvote".

Furthermore, with this question, How many matches will there be at Euro 2016, the following comment got 6 votes:

I vote to close because it is possible to find the answer with a very simple search on the web

Although the question is not closed, it was still received favorably with no rebuttal.

Thus, in two scenarios, lack of research is an appropriate reason to close and in the other scenario, lack of research is not an appropriate reason to close.

  • Were those comments made by the same person as to whether it was/wasn't good reason to close? The fact that at least one person holds each of two positions doesn't reflect on anything but those persons having opinions.
    – Nij Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 0:41
  • 3
    @Nij No, different users who made close vote comments and different users who responded to the contrary to said close voter. With these people having "opinions," that causes the following: 1) a snowball effect (eg, your close vote comment could have contributed to additional close votes) 2) confusion. This question is meant to determine how we handle these kind of questions so a snowball effect and confusion is prevented. The community is pretty consistent in general, but this is one instance in which there are contradicting perspectives as to how to handle these questions.
    – user527
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 3:07
  • I would hope a reasonable argument for closing a question does lead to additional close votes. Are we supposed to determine our voting perfectly independently? Otherwise it seems that is the point of a five-vote requirement (you have to convince enough other people, not just a friend or two).
    – Nij Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 3:15
  • 3
    @Nij As reasonable your argument is, the counterpoint is just as reasonable. This question isn't about picking out an "independent vote" and analyzing its in/correctness. This question is about how to handle questions that show little effort (to your point about reasonability), and there are two instances in which a close vote and a rebuttal to said close vote was made with similar reasoning. It's not about independent opinions...it's about the proper way how to handle these questions.
    – user527
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 4:15

4 Answers 4


In general, we should leave questions of this type open.

As an American, I know a fair amount about American football, basketball, and baseball. I know less about soccer football, and almost nothing about cricket. If I were to watch a cricket match, I would have a lot of questions, many of which would be instantly answerable by many of the people on this site.

What's wrong with that? We are not overrun with questions here. Closing a question that is clear and answerable is the wrong thing to do, especially on this site when we could use all the questions we can get. We want to encourage participation on this site, not discourage it.

Remember, there are only five close reasons. If a question is not off-topic, not unclear, not a duplicate, not too broad, and not primarily opinion-based, it really should be left open. "Too easy" is not a close reason. We are trying to create a comprehensive question-and-answer database about sports. Why shouldn't we have a question about down markers?

If you think a question is too easy to waste your time answering, then don't. If you don't think a question is an asset to the site, but it doesn't match any of the close reasons, then downvote and move on. But you don't need to prevent others from taking the time to write a great answer and making the internet a better place. Then, when others do try to google the same question, they will land here. That would be a great thing for our site.

Having basic questions with great answers does not hurt our site at all, in my opinion. In fact, the stated goal of our website, as expressed on our Tour page, is this:

With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about sports.

(Emphasis mine)

Just because the answer can be found elsewhere doesn't mean that we shouldn't also have the answer here.

  • 2
    Based on the responses and votes, the conclusion is drawn that these types of questions shouldn't be closed (and are encouraged via the tour page, as you point out). Whether they are brilliant questions or worthy of a downvote are the prerogative of the user. This, if nothing more, serves as a way to mitigate the inconsistency among these types of questions.
    – user527
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 13:47

Personally, I think they're both OK if not brilliant questions. They are both reasonably scoped, and do so some evidence of research, particularly the rugby one:

I understand that there needs to be minimum distance between the 2 lines and that there needs to be a minimum distance between the lines and the side line.

Even looking at the appropriate Law of Rugby, it's not entirely obvious to me what the answer is (i.e. I don't feel confident enough to answer it), and I know at least a little about rugby.

The baseball one perhaps isn't as good a question, but it's not necessarily something which is obvious to people who didn't grow up playing baseball: the whole "batter becomes a runner if a third strike isn't caught" thing is a fairly obscure bit of rules.

As such, I don't think that either should be closed, or even in fact downvoted.

  • How about the general premise of the question about questions with "little" effort?
    – user527
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 0:47
  • I think there's a sliding scale, from something where the poster has really done no work at all (eg "Who won the soccer world cup in 2014?") which would be a candidate for deletion - people asking Google that question are never even going to come to SE because Google puts the answer right on the search page. Things that are just a bit lazy (I can't think of a good example) get downvoted.
    – Philip Kendall Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 22:49
  • Is there a scenario in your sliding scale that would promote closing the question?
    – user527
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 12:20

There are several schools of thought regarding questions (in general) showing "little" effort or otherwise viewed as "low-quality." Here are some of the following perspectives:

  • The question is too basic.
  • Not everyone grew up with the sport.
  • It is reasonable to expect users to have done their research before asking.
  • People shouldn't rely on good google-fu to find something when we can provide it to them without any issue.

There is a respectable amount of correctness in each of these points. However, this has caused a blatant inconsistency on how questions showing "little" effort or otherwise viewed as "low-quality" are handled.

Until we can decide on a course of action, this will continue to be the case.

Exhibit A:

Do all the players on the bases get a run if the batter hits a home run or does only the batter who hit the home run get a run?

This question may be considered basic to those familiar with baseball. The most objective demonstration of any research was in the form of misconstruing terminology while watching a game.

A comment states: "...go easy on the downvotes. Not everybody grew up with baseball."

This was upvoted 7 times and protected the question from downvotes. There was even extra support toward this comment.

Exhibit B:

Ordinal Numbers on football field

Just like Exhibit A, this question may be considered basic to those familiar with American football. Also like Exhibit A, this question originated from a lack of understanding while watching a game. Moreover, it isn't clear whether Exhibit B demonstrated more or less research than Exhibit A.

I quoted the comment from Exhibit A as I didn't see how it didn't apply to Exhibit B. The responses ranged from "it is reasonable to expect users to have done their research before asking" to "a mod shouldn't encourage questions of this low quality." All the support found in Exhibit A was nowhere to be found in Exhibit B (until recently).

This question was closed with no support for it other than my quoted comment and defense of "the OP had an honest question". Update: The question has since been reopened.

Side note: I found it appalling how one user was welcomed so well in one question and so poorly in another question (of similar quality and working knowledge). Regardless, we shouldn't make a user feel unwelcome because of the quality of his/her question. We should help and guide the user to an answer, to improving the question, to learn how this site works, etc.

Exhibit C:

What does the third number in a NFL team's record stand for?

Like Exhibits A and B, this question may be considered basic to those familiar with American football. There definitely wasn't any demonstration of research done on this question.

There are close votes for "easily googled and too basic" but there was a response stating the question was useful as it may be confusing to football (soccer) fans and we "shouldn't rely on good google-fu to find something when we can provide it to them without any issue" as the first page of search results came from a source regarded as not credible.

Exhibit C seems to be in between Exhibits A and B with respect to how it was handled.

  • It's probably worth noting that Exhibit B currently has 4 reopen votes (full disclosure: one of them is mine), so could be re-opened soon. I'm not sure how we best deal with this where 5 users think a question should be closed and 5 think strongly enough it should be re-opened to vote for it. The last thing we should be doing is playing ping-pong with it.
    – Philip Kendall Mod
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 21:05
  • I a not sure where you are coming from about welcoming users. If there were questions of this low of quality on SO ... jesus we were angels compared to the responses you get there. Why would their be different expectations on different SE sites?
    – Coach-D
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 8:23
  • 2
    @Coach-D I completely agree. SO would be harsher. That said, we're not SO and some sites have implemented parts of their scope that isn't in line with the SE we are familiar with (eg, research requests are appropriate on some sites). My point here is that we should treat every question (of similar type and quality) the same.
    – user527
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:19
  • 2
    The part about welcoming users, particularly new ones, is to help guide them. I wouldn't write them off after one low-quality question. If it's a pattern, I see your point.
    – user527
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:19

Where is the (let's call it) minimum required level of prior research into the query?

For me it is "I read the rules concerning my query" and "I've watched several videos/looked at several images featuring the focus of my query" leading to "but there is a nuance that I can't figure out".

Others apparently place the limit at "a Google search doesn't immediately give the answer" or even "we should answer the trivial ones as well" (though this seems to be idiosyncratic to the sport such persons like most).

Then, that is presuming such a level exists upon which a significant majority of the community can agree. Either

  • we need to be able to say and effect, in totality, this is enough independent effort to asking on Sports.SE, while that is not enough independent effort to justify having it asked and answered here; or
  • we leave it to people to decide their own threshold and vote accordingly, based on any amount and type of reasoning they find sufficient.
  • This answer transcribed with alterations from previous comments on the question.
    – Nij Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 12:46
  • What are you afraid is going to happen if we allow an "easy" question to remain open?
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 5:19
  • Why would I have to be afraid of something to dislike it? We're already offering to find answers for all sorts of problems and questions. The least that a person should do is an effort to read the rules and the first page of Google results.
    – Nij Mod
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 6:12

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