This question was recently asked: What spells are available to resurrect characters?

I think it is a good question, in that the answer is important general knowledge. The answer is obtainable by doing some simple, but time consuming research.

I have seen other questions get closed because they were asking for information that could be found by doing research.

What distinguishes a question that shows lack of research?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give an example of questions that were closed because they could be answered by doing research? I can think of three sub-categories of such questions, and one always gets closed, one sometimes gets closed, and the third almost never gets closed. Which kind you're thinking of will help explain what you're asking about here. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, “didn't do research” is canonically a downvote reason, and never a close reason. Questions that didn't do research might be closed for other reasons, but not that one -- or else the close process has been used improperly. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I don't have the exact question, but it was seeking information that anyone reading the PHB or even the SRD would be unlikely to have missed. The differences in research needed to formulate an answer are large. I guess that's probably my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Apr 11, 2018 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kevin I don't see any questions you've asked that are like that. Am I missing something? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2018 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Sorry for the confusion! No, I didn't ask it. It was one I came across on the site. I'm just trying to learn the ropes here for the next question I have. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Apr 11, 2018 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


There are two issues in your question, so I'm going to untangle them a step at a time. You're asking about questions that get closed, and you're asking about how the amount of research in a question is distinguished. These are actually separate for reasons you'll see in a moment. I'll untangle the close issue first, since that makes the research-amount issue relatively simple.

There are three kinds of research questions that I can think of that tend to be handled differently from each other at RPG.se. The first two are exceptions to the third, which is the general rule. (I'll discuss distinguishing degree of research effort in that last category.)

1. Campaign research / real-world research

These questions are like “when did phones become common in America?” or “what does a bireme's deck plan look like?” We had a number of these in the site's very early days and we discovered they worked poorly enough here that they were made off-topic. We even have a FAQ about them now.

The problem is that RPGs can be about potentially anything and everything, but we're not Anything And Everything Stack Exchange, nor are we experts on anything or everything. And though RPGs do tend to inspire us to learn more about anything and everything, the site's focus on RPGs means we had to cut out questions that had no RPG content apart from “this knowledge could be relevant to an RPG”.

Campaign / real-world research questions are off topic, so they are closed.

2. Legwork questions

The last category doesn't have any formal recognition or handling. But they have been a point of contention, and sometimes get closed. There's no formalised handling, but we can often predict that this kind of question will be contentious and sometimes rejected by the community based on its details.

This is the “I would like someone else to do some easy but tedious work” question, like “what are all the spells that allow Wisdom saving throws?”, or the “I haven't bothered to read what the book says so I'm going to ask here”, like “how do I roll an attack?”

These don't show research effort, which normally would just be worth of downvotes. They however do sometimes get closed though. The idea behind the closes depends on the question's details, but usually is some variety of “you know the solution to your problem, but you just don't want to do it yourself”. The community isn't settled yet on whether we want to be the site for this kind of question.

(Some examples of existing/previous discussion where the community is trying to get a handle on legwork questions [not an exhaustive list!]: What Do We Do With "Read The Book To Me" Questions?, Are questions of the form "what are all the X with property Y" on-topic?, Is asking about the distribution of saving throws across all books too broad for this site?, Is it OK to downvote for “low effort” when the only way to answer quickly is piracy?, for just a few. Note how some are about closed questions, some about open ones, and that varies based on fine details of the questions.)

The question you cite is a good example of this ambiguity: it hasn't been closed, but since it's a self-answered question, it doesn't exist to ask someone else to do tedious but obvious work for the poster.

Legwork questions sometimes get closed because the community isn't sure if they belong here, and sometimes-closed, sometimes-not is a symptom of that state of affairs.

∞. All other research questions

All the other research questions generally stay open. This is the default state of affairs: being about research isn't a strike against a question. The two examples above are the exceptions to this general rule.

A question that shows insufficient effort is liable to get downvotes, but close votes tend to stay away, or reversed later with a reopen.

How is the amount of research generally distinguished? It's part of the voting system, so it's really a sum of individual judgements — for which guidance is provided by the site, but nothing in the way of definitions. The up/down vote buttons simply say this (in their pop-over text when you hover a mouse cursor over them a second), and these are the roots of people's voting judgements:

▲ This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear

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

People judging no research effort tends to be saying thinking things like “this is answered by Googling / reading the rules for [question subject] at all”. These questions are still on-topic, so it's usually not appropriate to close them for simply being easily answered elsewhere. They're just not very useful questions to anyone else, which is what the voting system is designed to rate.


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