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Over the last couple of days, I have put information in the comments section and I have had users indicate that I should put the information in an answer. I feel that in both cases, there was a serious flaw in the process which demanded that I submit a comment.

In short, each question could have been researched before being asked and the information I presented could have been turned up quickly. One of the standards for a "good question" is "Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question?" (From the FAQ). When I post a comment it is because I am showing the effect of 2 minutes with a google search. I don't feel that I am providing an answer, just a route to seeing what others have already hashed out. It is almost the equivalent of a backhanded downvote.

I know, I can downvote the question. I know I don't have to participate. But it seems that if I have the info, I should pass it along without claiming that I am adding anything to the conversation.

Should I be copying/pasting or briefing the answer presented somewhere else and claiming it as my answer? I haven't checked the sources. I didn't do any actual research (even if I give the source, it seems like it shouldn't be called my answer).

And of course, if this has been answered already and I missed it, feel free to answer with only a link in a comment.

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    Would you be comfortable linking to some examples? One possibility is that your expertise allows you to perform better searches that the OP wasn't able to do on his own. Another, as you imply, is that the OP didn't try hard enough. These are different cases. – Monica Cellio Feb 27 '14 at 15:04
  • I don't feel comfortable identifying a specific because I don't want to isolate any particular instance and thus (at least implicitly if not explicitly) criticize a particular question/poster. – rosends Feb 27 '14 at 15:13
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    Why don't you downvote if the question doesn't follow our guidelines? The downvote tooltip says "This question does not show any research effort" which sounds like your case. – Double AA Feb 27 '14 at 15:17
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    @Danno understood. So my advice would be to consider whether "obvious" is "really obvious" (maybe you want to downvote there) or "obvious to you but maybe not to everybody" (consider working up an answer if you're inclined, else if you leave the pointer somebody else might use it to do so and everybody wins). Um, maybe I should make that an answer. :-) – Monica Cellio Feb 27 '14 at 15:25
  • @DoubleAA I can downvote yes, but when I give the material (which I still believe I should do) I don't feel right giving it in an answer for precisely the reason that I downvoted the question. – rosends Feb 27 '14 at 16:55
  • As a corollary question, should the following be done? Sometimes I have seen an "obvious answer" question, with the obvious answer in a comment, and then someone else other than the commenter posting an answer, saying something along the lines of "As in the comment above, the answer is ..." - I feel like that is even a step lower than providing an answer straight from googling. – Y     e     z Feb 27 '14 at 19:38
  • @YEZ, that may be worth asking separately. See this question, its comments, its answer, and the answer's comments. – msh210 Feb 27 '14 at 20:43
  • @msh210 You always give me so much homework... – Y     e     z Feb 27 '14 at 20:44
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    @YEZ That actually never bothered me. If I chose to use a comment and not an answer, my info is fair game to anyone willing to do the work in making it an answer. – rosends Feb 28 '14 at 0:06
  • @Danno I didn't claim it was your question. It bothers me because it's just annoying. It's like announcing "by the way, I'm only here for the reputation points." – Y     e     z Feb 28 '14 at 1:09
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Sometimes what's Googlable for one person isn't for another: the person doesn't know what to search for. Sometimes the answer is Googlable, but there is misinformation on the 'Net (or the asker may think there is) and the asker doesn't know what's Judaism-sourced and what's not. Those are both sufficient reasons to ask on-site, I think.

If the question really is Googlable by the asker, then you should certainly downvote it. It may be worth deleting, if it's really of poor quality. But assuming it's worth keeping, I don't see the problem with posting as an answer information you find by Googling.

If the question is a good one for the asker but Googlable by you, then I'd say it's not worth deleting. (I'd downvote it if the asker didn't indicate what he'd tried.) But, again, I don't see anything wrong with posting as an answer information you find by Googling.

  • Is there anything wrong with posting it as a comment and not an answer? – Y     e     z Feb 27 '14 at 19:36
  • @YEZ, comments are, by design, ephemeral; they may well be deleted. Other than that, no, or not that I know of. – msh210 Feb 27 '14 at 20:30

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