3 replaced http://english.stackexchange.com/ with https://english.stackexchange.com/
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One of the most popular questions of the past week was http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/180899/soccer-mom-why-soccer/181016#181016"Soccer mom": why soccer?. The accompanying commentary made clear that the OP understood what the term meant and when it had emerged, but wanted to know why its coiner had chosen that particular sport. It was a great question, and a number of people tried to answer it.

One of the most popular questions of the past week was http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/180899/soccer-mom-why-soccer/181016#181016. The accompanying commentary made clear that the OP understood what the term meant and when it had emerged, but wanted to know why its coiner had chosen that particular sport. It was a great question, and a number of people tried to answer it.

One of the most popular questions of the past week was "Soccer mom": why soccer?. The accompanying commentary made clear that the OP understood what the term meant and when it had emerged, but wanted to know why its coiner had chosen that particular sport. It was a great question, and a number of people tried to answer it.

2 Fixed typo: an --> and.
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Ultimately, I don't know how we can filter out all of the bad questions and keep all of the good ones; but even at the cost of tolerating bad ones an hour or two longer than we otherwise might, I would like to see a bit more patience in our handling of certain types of seemingly obvious (anand therefore seemingly bad) questions, in the hope that research by an interested answerer might discover something valuable in it.

Ultimately, I don't know how we can filter out all of the bad questions and keep all of the good ones; but even at the cost of tolerating bad ones an hour or two longer than we otherwise might, I would like to see a bit more patience in our handling of certain types of seemingly obvious (an therefore seemingly bad) questions, in the hope that research by an interested answerer might discover something valuable in it.

Ultimately, I don't know how we can filter out all of the bad questions and keep all of the good ones; but even at the cost of tolerating bad ones an hour or two longer than we otherwise might, I would like to see a bit more patience in our handling of certain types of seemingly obvious (and therefore seemingly bad) questions, in the hope that research by an interested answerer might discover something valuable in it.

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One of the most popular questions of the past week was http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/180899/soccer-mom-why-soccer/181016#181016. The accompanying commentary made clear that the OP understood what the term meant and when it had emerged, but wanted to know why its coiner had chosen that particular sport. It was a great question, and a number of people tried to answer it.

But in a formal, show-your-work sense, the question wasn't especially well researched: The "soccer mom" questioner gave no evidence of having done any independent research in an effort to answer the question himself. He simply described how much he did know on the subject, and asked EL&U readers to inform him about the things he didn't know.

To me, his handling of the question was exactly appropriate to the situation—and it was very much the same approach that (it seems to me) Yoichi Oishi uses in formulating his questions, which many (though not all) of us here consider models of their kind.

First and foremost, a good question asks something that people who care about language recognize as interesting (though it may take some research to discover just how interesting it is). Second, the question summarizes what the questioner already knows, so answerers don't waste time rehashing stuff that isn't in doubt. And third, the question is clear enough about what the questioner wants to know that answerers don't waste time guessing at what it might be or pursuing false objectives.

But satisfying these criteria doesn't inherently require any research; it simply requires having a good question to begin with. To the extent that a lack of research constitutes a valid objection to a question, I think, it does so because such research would have disposed of the question; that is, a modest amount of preliminary research by the questioner would have revealed the answer to the questioner without requiring the involvement of EL&U in the process. However, that logic amounts to saying that a modest amount of preliminary research would have revealed that the question itself wasn't good (by the first criterion I mentioned above) in the first place.

Here's where things get problematic for me. More than once I've looked into a seemingly simple question and found that the stock answers offered by general references either disagree in certain particulars or overlook important evidence that complicates the question (and answer). If we insist that questioners show that they have undertaken some independent research before coming to us for answers, those questioners will almost certainly encounter a stock answer from a general reference and will consider the matter closed. At times, this result isn't good for the cause of truth.

I understand that EL&U suffers from a serious problem of being inundated by tides of trivial and boring questions. But if "put on hold until you demonstrate that you've done some elementary research on your own" is actually designed to weed out bad questions by demanding more effort of the people who ask them than we do of the people who ask good questions, it establishes an unacknowledged double standard. Again, bad questions aren't bad because they aren't adequately researched; they're bad because there's nothing to them.

Most crucially, to the extent that seemingly bad questions may occasionally be good questions in disguise, I think that sending the questioner back to do more research is actually counterproductive because such a questioner will rarely go deeply enough into the research to find the hidden complications that make both the question and the answer(s) interesting. We're the ones with the multiple reference works on hand and the sense of what to look for in the way of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and other complications.

Perhaps the most honest explanation—"put on hold as being a question of no serious interest to anyone but the questioner"—sounds too rude or dismissive to pass muster. But the farther the reason we give for putting a question on hold is from the real reason for our doing so, the likelier we are to reap unintended and undesirable consequences from our policy.

Ultimately, I don't know how we can filter out all of the bad questions and keep all of the good ones; but even at the cost of tolerating bad ones an hour or two longer than we otherwise might, I would like to see a bit more patience in our handling of certain types of seemingly obvious (an therefore seemingly bad) questions, in the hope that research by an interested answerer might discover something valuable in it.

I hope I don't sound too negative about dingo_dan's proposal, because it's clear to me that he recognizes the desirability of keeping "hidden good" questions in play while disposing of tons of slag. I just want to make sure that we don't put too high a value on research as a necessary characteristic of good questions, or as a hoped-for way to transform bad questions into good ones or to make bad ones simply disappear.