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On Stack Overflow, comments like "let me google that for you" are banned. What is the policy on CS? Before that I was thinking to close them all, but right now, I think the policy on SO is better. As long as a question is on topic (there is no duplicate of that question, well written, has some audience in CS, ...), we shouldn't close the question and we shouldn't leave LMGTFY link as a comment. But I think is better to elaborate it here.

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  • $\begingroup$ stackexchange should clarify its role wrt google, it has a symbiotic relationship. imho a basic guideline is that collecting/sorting links from google in an intelligent/ expert way and adding some commentary is acceptable for some questions if there is more than one angle. other questions are maybe too basic, easily answered with a search, & just should be voted down or close-voted in that case. also note that lame questions sometimes are polarizing and collect various critical comments, with the one you mention as just a case of that. think a flexible policy about comments is better. $\endgroup$ – vzn Sep 7 '13 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @vzn, If you didn't read my reference question in main site please read it (with all answers), but the very short story is this, one of a main goals of x.SE is to have all answers for problems in field x, so, if someone ask some question in CS, which is easily accessible by google search, but is not duplicate in CS then is valid question, because another rule e.g in SO is no question is trivial (I mean the question which satisfies on topic behavior). Here, we close if the OP didn't show his/her try, and in my humble opinion is good, but on the other hand we cannot achieve a first aim. $\endgroup$ – user742 Sep 7 '13 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ But here is not SO, but I think the general goals are same, in SO programming related is important in math, math related and here CS related questions are important. $\endgroup$ – user742 Sep 7 '13 at 20:24
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LMGTFY comments are almost always rude. Don't hesitate to flag them as such.

Banning them by automatic filtering isn't very effective: it only leads to people using other similar sites or link shorteners.

Politely encouraging askers to search for an answer is of course perfectly fine. But you should point people towards reliable reference materials rather than to Google. It isn't always easy to figure out which search engine results are applicable, and even more difficult to figure out which ones are reliable. Also remember that all search engine results fluctuate over time and that Google search results depend on your language settings, on your search history, on your location, and other factors.

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I share the views expressed in the highest voted comment under the question and the highest voted answer to the question on MSO.

Not spending 5 min to do a Google search before asking others for help is also rude. Of course there are cases where LMGTFY is misused but often it is the proper answer. It also teaches the person how to find answers himself, i.e. Google.

An LMGTFY comment does not forbid others from posting detailed answers or comments directly linking to a page with the answer.

Moreover, I think there are situations that an LMGTFY is a the proper answer, e.g. when the answer in clearly given in a Wikipedia article and the article is the first result when you Google for the obvious thing. Personalization of the results is unlikely to have an effect on such cases. The results might change over time, but so is almost any page on the web, that is not an argument for not linking to them. A question with just LMGTFY answer should be eventually deleted so there is even less issue with the long time reliability of the link.

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  • $\begingroup$ I tend to agree, iff the comment is written so that it is clear that it is an honest hint/advice. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Sep 9 '13 at 7:25
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with your arguments, but see this two more arguments: 1. As you mentioned, what happens if the link is broken later, or there is an arrow in the suggested link (may be is easy to fix but is not accessible through SE). 2. (main issue IMHO): When CS grows up, we want to have an answer to almost all CS questions in CS.SE. So we can write a complete answer instead of leaving LMGTFY, later if similar question asked, then we have a close reason: duplicated. P.S: We can also mention in our answer, that searching brings this up very fast, if we want to teach searching as a side task. $\endgroup$ – user742 Sep 9 '13 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ Also I should note that, I know that is not easy to ban LMGFTY links, I asked this question, because I know many contributors will read it in future, then when they face with LMGTFY links, or when they see easy to answer questions, then they can decide what action they should do (based on answers and comments and related links in here, and their own opinion). $\endgroup$ – user742 Sep 9 '13 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ @SaeedAmiri So you are saying we should either close or answer fully. I agree. Questions that are "worthy" of LMGTFY should probably always be closed, since we do not want to (read, see the need to) duplicate Wikipedia or similar references. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Sep 9 '13 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Saeed, I don't know if we want to have answers to all questions or not. My understanding was similar to Raphael, e.g. we don't want a question if the answer is clearly given in a Wikipeida article. But maybe there is a good reason to write answers to such questions. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 9 '13 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael, Yes either Answering or Closing by one of a valid rules. Also I think even questions which are worthy for LMGTFY, if they are not duplicate (and on topic, I mean not a very broad and vague, ...), is better to be answered, to have a real close reason for future similar cases. [In this case, my personal taste is to provide a comment, and leave it for new contributors to answer it, but if I see nobody provide an answer after a long time I'll do it, may be this is wrong though, or may be my personal opinion change over a time]. $\endgroup$ – user742 Sep 9 '13 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: Sometimes, it is indeed the case that the Wikipedia reference is lacking. One may argue to rather fix the posts there, but this has (for me) proven to be an arduous and fruitless task compared to just providing better material here. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Sep 13 '13 at 6:34

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