I recently had a question closed for lack of research/ answers being in "commonly-available references".

My question is, why is this considered a good reason to close a question? Surely, the replication of the knowledge in these "commonly-available references" is a good thing, not a bad thing.

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    Because if you can answer your question looking up a dictionary, there is no need to ask here. If you can’t find an answer in dictionaries or other easily googlable sites, then ask here. Btw don’t forget to mention the research you’ve done.
    – Gio
    Mar 22 at 18:48
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    Up to a point, you actually have a point. Some posts are cited as "definitive"; however, should be re-examined time-to-time. Thank you for your post. Mar 22 at 20:16
  • Looking at both your questions, they are just simply unclear to me.
    – Laurel Mod
    Mar 23 at 11:28
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    If replicating dictionary entries was a good thing, we would just write a script to create a question for every word in the top dictionaries, then answer it with the properly cited definitions from those dictionaries. That seems pointless to me. If you want to avoid having your question closed as general reference, explain why you need a person to take their time to write an answer for you when it seems like you could easily find an answer yourself. Is the answer you found confusing? Does it not explain something? Are you unsure how it applies to your context?
    – ColleenV
    Mar 23 at 13:42
  • @Gio That is essentially what I did with my most recent question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/586438/… I checked online and could not find an answer in dictionaries or otherwise. Surely then, even if the question is a bit strange, having an answer readily available on a site such as this is useful?
    – Connor
    Mar 23 at 13:49
  • @ColleenV That's true! But who defines "easily"? For example, if I have to go through a dictionary to a 30 page section on Nouns and read it until page 12 to get my answer, is that easy? (Not saying I did this, just gauging the point at which asking a question is considered acceptable!)
    – Connor
    Mar 23 at 13:55
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    @Connor The community (in general) votes on whether you have provided enough context in your question for it to be in scope. The more you help the community understand why you had trouble finding an answer, the less likely it will be that they vote to close it. If you say "I found this really technical paper on nouns (here's the link) but I don't have enough background in linguistics to understand it", I think it would be more apparent to people that your question isn't easily answered by looking it up.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 23 at 14:00
  • @ColleenV Okay, another question then. Who is this site for? It's starting to seem to me that it's mainly for people involved in English Grammar at an undergraduate to post-doctoral level. Is that accurate?
    – Connor
    Mar 23 at 14:03
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    You should probably take the tour and look over the help center. If you feel like the answers you're getting here are more technical than you're interested in you may want to take a look at English Language Learners, which is geared more toward learners. There is a research requirement there as well, but the community is more understanding of difficulties knowing what to look up or which reference to look in.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 23 at 14:06
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    I know English Language Learners primarily serves folks learning English as a foreign language, but the content of the question is more important than who posted it. Questions from native speakers are welcomed too.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 23 at 14:09
  • @ColleenV I did go through the tour after the poor reception of the above question! However, it seems within scope of "Word choice and Usage", and "Grammar" to me. Albeit broadly! But of course, if this site is geared towards highly specific points on English Usage and Grammar then perhaps the other site is better!
    – Connor
    Mar 23 at 14:10
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    I think your question could be edited to be something the community would be willing to reopen. Some people will "read between the lines" to try to guess what sort of answer you want, but many won't. Adding more explanation would help your questions get a warmer reception. You as the author have some responsibility for convincing people your question is an interesting and worthwhile contribution to the site.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 23 at 14:12
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    Basically, the research requirement is so we can tell (or at least guess better) what theories of linguistics and grammar you've been exposed to and may have come to believe. If we know where you're coming from, we have a better idea of where you're going. Mar 25 at 16:23


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