Some questions asking for rules clarification aren't just fairly easy for anyone familiar with the game to answer, the correct answer is immediately clear upon reading a single, short, clearly marked, indexed, and easy to find passage of text inherently associated with the asking of the question. Rarely, in this case, this is the result of heavy intellectual bias on the part of the asker, representing a problem for a significant portion of the gaming community-- even though the answer really is obvious to anyone without the errant background (cf. How does wizard & cleric spell preparation and casting work?). Most of the time, however, this is not the case.

When the answer to a question is RTFM (or a direct two-three line quote with no necessary explanatory text and no gaps, omissions, additions, etc), voting to close may prevent copyright issues, preserve site quality, and forcibly encourage new users to obey our meta consensus. That last post is particularly important; this question is basicallyy a follow-up to that one.

If we are not supposed to answer RTFM questions, ought we then to VTC them?


2 Answers 2


Edit: Found this meta which answers this question nicely. (In fact, it's probably a duplicate.)

If you hover over the downvote button, you can see the following text:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

So there's a definite recommendation from the site to downvote questions like this.

On the other hand, we don't have a close vote reason that mentions trivial questions or lack of research effort. You suggested that the example question should be closed as off-topic; the off-topic close vote reason has the following text:

This question does not appear to be about role-playing games within the scope defined in the help center.

If you visit this help center page, it similarly does not mention trivial questions or lack of research effort.

With respect to the previous 'Read the book to me' meta, it was asking about questions which are essentially asking for an entire set of rules. The example question for this meta you're asking now isn't that kind of question; it's just a trivial question that is easily answered with a quick glance at the book.

The conclusion here seems obvious to me; as far as the site is concerned, trivial questions should be downvoted, but there is no strong justification for closing them.


Yes, we should indeed VTC such questions. If the question is actually not clear, underscores an important misconception, etc. it can be reopened after editing to make that clearer. These questions are bad for the site and should not be allowed. Furthermore, any question which users are 'not supposed to answer' should be closed; open questions should not be traps for new users or anyone else.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think there's a difference between unclear and mistaken which this answer glosses over too quickly. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Jan 29, 2015 at 4:00

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