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My question is about What does 'Gentleman jockey wins the Derby' mean. The OP would have found an answer -- or a strong clue -- if he had googled "gentleman jockey". There are nine references in the first nine google hits here, although only the last was from something that called itself a dictionary: Gamblingdictionary.net.

The question showed no evidence of any research at all. What is the best way to be helpful to the OP without encouraging questions that show no research?

A question could be asked about the evolution of the meaning of gentleman, but this was not that question.

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    This is the everlasting battle on SE. This topic been kicked around on Meta.ELU in various forms since the site launched. It was one of the drivers of launching ELL, too. My own position is no, someone should at least try to solve their own problem before throwing up their hands and asking strangers for help. But then you have the wildly popular "embrace the non-googlers" post on MSE. So while happy you asked this and very interested to see the spectrum of positions in our community, I wouldn't hold our much hope we'll settle the question. – Dan Bron May 21 '17 at 18:09
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    @Josh I may misunderstand, but "if the very first page of Google results dispositively answers the question, then is that general reference?" is the thrust of the question being asked here. The Q being considered is dispositively answered by the very first page of Google results, so if the answer to the former question is "yes" then the question you answered is appropriately closed as general reference. – Dan Bron May 21 '17 at 18:31
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    @ab2 - to be fair, you should say that there is no dictionary entry to the expression "gentleman jokey" and the only one available from the Google page is not from one of the accredited sources cited by and normally used on ELU. – user66974 May 21 '17 at 19:49
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    It seems to me like a good question would be whether "gentleman" in other cases refers to an amateur. OED suggests otherwise, as "gentleman jockey" is encapsulated within this definition: "Used appositively in various designations referring to pursuits, professions, etc. to denote that the person so styled is of superior rank to those who ordinarily follow the same occupation; also as attribute (often contemptuous or sarcastic) to any personal designation;" So why does "gentleman jockey" mean amateur? Are there other cases where it carries that meaning? Etc. – RaceYouAnytime May 21 '17 at 20:14
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    It is ridiculous to think that some dictionary would have GENTLEMAN JOCKEY WINS THE DERBY as some idiomatic expression. People need to look words up one at a time, or else say what they want to know. – tchrist May 21 '17 at 21:23
  • @RaceYouAnytime See Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, Volume 5, 1863, which dscusses gentlemen jockeys, gentlemen riders and gentlemen farmers. Also reflect that "gentles" as a class were originally knights, i.e., warriors, i.e., killers. There is a rich question here; I hope someone goes with it. – ab2 May 21 '17 at 21:25
  • It is ridiculous to think that one can answer the above question looking up "gentleman jockey" as two separate words. As a matter of fact the only definition available is about the whole expression. – user66974 May 21 '17 at 21:50
  • @ab2 There may be a "rich question" here, but it certainly isn't explicit, and if it is a "rich question" then it should be. – Andrew Leach May 22 '17 at 8:31
  • @Andrew Leach It isn't a question yet. It takes work to go from the idea of a question to a question. Someone may form a question out of the thoughts In the comment; I may get around to it eventually, but not soon. – ab2 May 22 '17 at 9:56
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Stack Exchange wants to be a place where you can find answers to everything imaginable. So instead of closing questions as "just google it!", we are encouraged to answer them here itself.

Similarly, ELU aims to have answers to all possible questions about the English language and usage (within the scope defined in its help center).

But here's the thing, we don't aim to ourselves become an English dictionary, thesaurus, or a forum for analysis and criticism of literature.

So, questions on ELU asking for "what does this word mean?" should preferably also briefly include the context, what dictionary was referred to, what definitions were found, and why that research didn't help.

We don't mean to close everything by saying "just google it!". We ask only this, "please include the research you have done" and then we'll guide you from there.


Regarding that particular question about gentleman jockey, a quick googling gave me an idea of the meaning, even though I have never heard that in my 25 years on Earth, and even though I'm not a native English speaker. The OP has experience with the SE network, so I'm sure they know how to google things, and should have included in the question body why that did not help.

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    However, it's perfectly reasonable to put a question on hold pending the inclusion of that research. And if that means that it eventually ends up closed because the research never arrives, so be it. I would certainly have done that in this case had I found that question earlier. – Andrew Leach May 22 '17 at 8:36
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    The OP claimed to have searched the entire phrase, if he did, and didn't find an answer, what's so terrible in asking the community? Do we really want to shun every newcomer who comes with a half-decent question? Who didn't write a shoddy first question, the first time they entered the arena? – Mari-Lou A May 22 '17 at 9:41
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    We get so many shoddy, and ill-researched questions on Present Simple vs Present Continuous, which nobody among the ranks bother to answer because it's old, and tired, and we don't care about those type questions. Questions on grammar whose answers cannot be found in a dictionary abound, but who answers them? When finally you get something original, down come the downvotes, down come the closures, and the same tired answers and justifications from the same users are heard time, and time again. FIX the question, and then close it, if nobody can answer. – Mari-Lou A May 22 '17 at 9:41
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    @Mari-LouA If he'd included that claim in the body of his question, without being asked, his Q would have faired better. That's NVZ's point in his answer here. But even better would have been to not google the uninteresting and straightforward part of the phrase ("wins the derby"), but to google the novel and interesting part ("gentleman jockey"). Having said that, you say "fix the question" before closing it; what improvement do you see could be made to this Q by someone not OP, which do not amount to answering the Q by editing it? That's the problem with "trivially googleable" Qs. – Dan Bron May 22 '17 at 10:52
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    @Mari-LouA And, for the record, this was the first question I asked. It got an upvote; my second question got 17 upvotes and my third 53. It's not hard to get upvotes on questions if you treat your audience with respect, like a company of professionals who would like to help you. But if you just treat them like grunts, people to delegate your legwork to, because you haven't the inclination to do it yourself, it shouldn't be surprising if it's poorly received. And the key thing is every Q will communicate one of these attitudes, based on framing – Dan Bron May 22 '17 at 10:59
  • @DanBron let's imagine he googled those two terms , and then said to himself "i think I've got it" he wouldn't have posted the question, and we would not be here saying we had never heard this expression, which is not a neologism. Who gains when the question is posted? Everyone. Who gains when the OP doesn't post the question? I mean this wasn't a query that everyone knew. An answer any 7-year-old native speaker could have provided. – Mari-Lou A May 22 '17 at 10:59
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    @DanBron - I don't think you are a benchmark here, your knowledge and ability with your native language is probably well above average compare to that of more common ordinary users, both native and non native. So if we want to treat the whole audience with respect, we need to help them also with less sophisticated questions. Preliminary research "must" be included for goodness' sake, but that should not be a pretext to CV whatever is not "your standard". – user66974 May 22 '17 at 11:18
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    @Josh I only posted that link about my first question because ML-A asked "who didn't write a shoddy first question, first time in the arena". I wanted to show it was possible, if you have respect for your audience. In particular, if you hold dear one very specific ethic: do not ask others for things you're not willing to do yourself, and a handful of common sense practices which should be completely natural to any adult, such as providing sufficient background and context when asking a Q of other adults. – Dan Bron May 22 '17 at 11:27
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    @Josh So let's leave my specific questions aside for now, and talk about what the benchmark should be. I agree with you that it can't be "anything an English nerd would know", because people are coming here to ask questions of English nerds! But I equally disagree that is be a "7 year old native speaker", as ML-A mentioned. We're here to answer Qs which require some expertise in English. – Dan Bron May 22 '17 at 11:32
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    Going back to that foundational ethic, I argue the benchmark is "if there is an obvious path to researching the question which, when explored, immediately and dispositively answers that question, and there is no evidence in the Q of OP having attempted that obvious research, then VtC". This standard does not require any English expertise on the part of the OP, but also satisfies that foundational ethic of doing your legwork, and because of the wealth of easily accessible English material out there, will also result in Qs being asked here requiring some level of expertise! Everyone wins! – Dan Bron May 22 '17 at 11:36
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    @DanBron do you think my most recent questions were lazy and lacked respect? And yet, on three separate occasions there were two users who wanted to close three questions for being off-topic. One was, supposedly, a duplicate of an older question. One Q was deemed to be of interest only to myself, i.e. its scope was too narrow, and another question was deemed opinion-based. – Mari-Lou A May 22 '17 at 15:08
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    So there are users out there who are don't give a damn if someone has jumped through all the right hoops, their questions will still get DV and someone will try to close them. Trust me on this. If you don't, I can give you the links. – Mari-Lou A May 22 '17 at 15:08
  • @Mari-LouA I haven't been on the site as much recently, so I don't think I saw your last 3 Qs when you posted them, but I just went and looked at your timeline on your user profile and your last 3 Qs all seem fine to me? They're also all upvoted. I also don't see any closevotes on them, but maybe they were cast and aged away. I've had Qs closed as dupes, which is sometimes disappointing, but I don't see it as criticism, and it is better for the site to consolidate dupes into one post. In general I think all your posts demonstrate depth, effort, and respect. – Dan Bron May 22 '17 at 15:37
  • @DanBron recent doesn't mean the last three questions, you need to dig a bit deeper, but regardless, when I spend time trying to craft a question in such a way it doesn't get slammed down, just so I can have an answer. It gets wearisome, the DVs. The votes cast to close, thankfully expired, but I still got two. Which question do you think was "off topic"? Ack.. – Mari-Lou A May 22 '17 at 18:03
  • @Mari-LouA Hello, there. I don't see the point in this discussion. In my answer I have expressed why I felt the need to put that question on hold. I don't force my worldview onto others. Feel free to reopen it, as you like. We all have our share of votes. We can use it as we think is best for the community. edited: Oh, it is open now. Your edits look nice. :) – NVZ May 22 '17 at 18:29
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This is not exactly an attempt at an official answer but brings up some points.

There is a well-founded but not particularly strong history of ELU attempting to be a complete repository of objective answers to questions, even if such questions are already attempted elsewhere.

See in particular

Google is not a general reference

In short, the direction there is that ELU should attempt to answer things that may well have been answered elsewhere.

But there is also the denigration of cut-and-paste/link answers, those that simply do some google research and cut-and-paste parts from dictionaries and other commentary, the questions whose best possible answer is a LMGTFY answer

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