I just posted my first question on this site, here. I apparently was required to add more evidence of some investigation I'd already performed, but my issue is that this was brought to my attention in a rather abrupt, and not particularly clear, way.

I'm sure it's quite common to have to alert new users to the requirement to include some research already done. Perhaps something less curt than "Questions here are required to demonstrate some degree of prior research" would be possible? I'm surprised there's no longer, standardized response to give, along these lines:

Hi, thank you for posting your question on this site. Please be aware that we require questions to include details of some research already performed. See details on post requirements [here]

… where "[here]" hopefully links to a help page or meta post which describes the requirements clearly, and possibly even links to a couple of good existing questions as examples.

To give some perspective on why I was so taken aback to read the moderator's first comment: After spending a good amount of time trying to answer the question online (and being used to the standards for asking questions on other StackExchange sites), the comment I received looked a lot like "ugh, LMGTFY" but didn't actually telling me what I should search for! I see now that wasn't the intent of the remark, but there's still room for improvement here.

I had another gander at the Ask page, and admittedly, I do see in the text on the right: "Provide details and share research with your question." But if this is a strict requirement, may I suggest it ought to be emphasized a little more clearly? Similarly the help tour seems to make no mention of the requirement. Even the more detailed (and more specific-to-this-site) help center makes no mention of this, anywhere in its "Asking" section.

Honestly, I posted my question mostly selflessly because it seemed noteworthy that it was such a tough one to find an online answer to. In the follow-up meeting with the surgeon I plan to find out her answer, and add it to my question's answers for the future reference of the world, but that's going to be tough if the question gets judgmentally closed before then.

  • There are a lot of limits on what a site can do to make these things more clear. We are tiny in the scope of the broader SE universe and don't get a lot of direct developer attention. The comments like Carey makes are the most direct way to inform people. We also have a massive banner these days informing people about the prohibition on medical advice and yet there are tons of people still asking those questions. People just tend to ignore stuff, even if you make it bold and flash it in their face. Years of training to ignore ads perhaps contributes. Nov 22 '20 at 18:06
  • In the asking section of the help it is written "This site also requires questions to show a reasonable degree of prior research. Your question should, if possible, show what you found in your research that you don't understand or doesn't answer your question" on the only page that moderators can edit. Nov 22 '20 at 18:08
  • Fair enough. It's unfortunate I happened to make the initial reading of the moderator's response that I did, but my experience made it clear that it was possible and I do still believe the requirement could be more prominent. But sure, hard to get folks to heed anything. And I stand corrected, the Asking help section does mention the requirement, but it's a full page from the top and not emphasized (bold, or cetera) in any way.
    – Owen
    Nov 23 '20 at 19:30

I now regret giving you what I thought was a friendlier version of my stock response to new users who don't follow the prior research requirement. That standard answer is as follows:

Welcome to Medical Sciences! Please take the [tour] and read the [help]. For reasons mentioned in this post and in [ask], we require prior research information when asking questions. See this list of helpful resources. Please help us to help you and [edit] your question to provide more information on what you have read on this subject, what made you ask this question, and any problems you are having understanding your research. If you found nothing, what did you Google?

(The items in brackets get filled in automatically with links to the appropriate sections.)

Do you have any idea how many times I post that response every day? It gets tiresome, and having this debate gets equally tiresome. I gave you an abbreviated reminder because I could see you had participated in a number of sites, so I thought you would read the help section and all you needed was a reminder. I was quite surprised that you found it abrupt and unclear. I also thought the link I offered you made it fairly clear that the answer was out there on the web and would lead you to it.

So, to answer your question, rest assured that I won't deviate from my standard response again.

  • 1
    Okay, fair enough, so I'm not suggesting anything particularly new. And apologies to have dragged more of your time into this when all of your efforts for this site are already volunteered. In retrospect, I also find it a bit strange that I made the initial interpretation of your initial response that I did ("this guy's just telling me that my question's too simplistic for this site or something!")! The opposite of serendipity. Unrelatedly: I watched the video you linked, once again, and finally made a relevant leap, getting the search terms correct at last and, I think, finding my answer.
    – Owen
    Nov 23 '20 at 19:31
  • 3
    @Owen I definitely wasn't saying your question was too simplistic. I think it's a legitimate question and one I didn't know the answer to myself despite the fact that my wife has undergone meniscus repair surgery. I think your reaction was probably due to your experience with other sites that don't impose prior research requirements, so you took that to be the norm, but among the science and academic sites it's very common. It's sort of a defense mechanism against the academic version of "gimme the codez" questions the tech sites struggle with.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Nov 23 '20 at 20:07
  • 3
    Well, thank you again, and apologies for my initial jump to offended conclusions. I hope all went (and still goes) well in the case of your wife's knee. And all my best to the site's defence against the questions no one wants to see.
    – Owen
    Nov 23 '20 at 21:55

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