A user asked a question about the phrase dot and carry one. The first comment queried whether the question qualified as general reference and supplied a link to an answer. The link goes to an external site that also uses a question-and-answer format. Subsequent comments indicated that the answer could be found via web searches and the question was eventually closed.

The results of a search on Google for dot and carry one contain many Q&A sites, including EL&U, but few dictionaries. It seems odd to close a question on general-reference grounds when none of the results higher than the EL&U result are from dictionaries.

In situations where web searches lead to other Q&A sites, should the reason for closing be given as exact duplicate instead of general reference? Or perhaps there needs to be a new reason for closing that indicates that the answer is available via a web search, but not specifically in a general reference?

  • 1
    World Wide Words is not a Q&A site like answers.com or whatever. It's written by a guy who knows about language. It's more like a blog. It's a valid source. I think you need to find a better example. Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 14:47
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    @Matt I didn't question the quality of World Wide Words. I just don't believe it qualifies as a general reference.
    – D Krueger
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


I agree. The general reference close reason should apply to things that are found in standard English-language references, not things that can be found by merely Googling. In this particular case, the cited reference has no particular authority, and is not the sort of reference to which general reference applies.

  • Me three. An answer that would bring together all the various opinions to be found (World Wide Words among them), plus maybe some usage notes/first OED cites, would make the internet better.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 22:07
  • Isn't General Reference also when you find something quickly and easily when googling? I.e. something that is not written for a narrow audience and is not in the 756347858th page of the search?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 0:51
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    @Alenanno When you google something, you usually find something quickly and easily. That's what Google does. But how do you judge the quality of what you find? Unless the search results contain a link to a general reference site, it takes some work, and perhaps some guessing, to determine which site contains the best answer. The Stack Exchange format is supposed to help address that very problem through its use of multiple answers, voting, and editing. But that format can't work when questions are closed because they have been asked and answered on other sites.
    – D Krueger
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 4:14
  • 1
    I agree with JSBᾶngs: Googling, you can find a site that says Elvis Presley is still alive. That doesn't mean he is really alive.
    – apaderno
    Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 13:28

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