Good afternoon friends,
First let me place this into some context
I am relatively new to ELU and have been enjoying the atmosphere here, the satisfaction that comes from helping someone that has a question and is seeking an answer, and also enjoying learning something new almost daily thanks to the wealth of knowledge and experience that surrounds these boards.
One of the aspects that attracted me to ELU was the non hierarchical nature of the setup. You answer questions, you either help people, in which case you gain recognition, or you do not in which case you stagnate. Seems like a fair exchange to me.
I am of a mind that likes to help. That is one of the reasons I am here. Frequently throughout the day you will see a question that looks a little something like this:
Question title: Can I use 'versatility' when referring to the trait of something that is versatile?
Can I use 'versatility' when referring to the trait of something that is versatile? Or is it versatile ability ?
Now this is a reasonably basic question granted. However it does pertain to how you use the English language. Does it show research effort? No.
I have a number of options when confronted with a question like this.
1) Ignore the question.
2) Give the person advice how they might improve their question.
3) Answer the question.
4) Answer the question and give the person advice about how they might improve the question.
5) Downvote the question.
6) Downvote the question and give the questioner advice as to how they might improve their question.
I have been inclined to simply answer the question. Why? Because I do not see the lack of research effort particularly as a sign of tardiness on the part of the questioner. For someone that is asking such a basic question, I find myself pondering just how capable they are to actually research the question they are asking. After all if they possessed that particular skillset, chances are they would have already solved their own question.
Do they really know how to use a dictionary properly? I very much doubt so. Sure they could recount a paragraph about 'what they have done' before they got to ELU to ask the question, but when we are dealing with a question as basic as this, does this really make all that much difference to their question?
There are of course other questions, on the spectrum from demonstrating absolutely no effort, and being barely comprehensible, to those that are perfectly written but lack some research. I have used the above example merely to illustrate the point.
I hope I have at least given you pause for thought, in terms of how a lack of research initiative might not necessarily be a reflection of a lack of effort on the part of the questioner.
From time to time, someone with more reputation than me decides they should educate me on the do's and don'ts of their vision for the site, and posts something along the lines of.. 'please do not answer this question. it lacks research effort' etc.
My initial reaction to this was it was rather ludicrous that someone should think that I would adjust my answering habits merely based on their own vision of how they would like the site to be run. Given I am educated well in the English language I was of the idea that I am essentially the same as everyone else as far my status here goes, and then there are moderators, who I view higher for obvious reasons in the scheme of things.
While I look with admiration at users with very high reputation scores, I do not correlate this with a superiority when it comes to the value of their own judgements about the site and mine. For instance if a moderator asked me to do something or told me they did not like the way I was behaving, I would instantly take that on board - out of respect for the station. When it comes to everybody else however, I see us all as one mass looking to help others, share wisdom amongst ourselves and generally enjoy the site.
I have however been thinking about this a bit more lately...
My question to the community is two fold, but they are linked questions, so I hope you allow me the liberty of asking them both here at the same time.
1) Do you think that we should refrain from answering people that post showing a lack of research effort when and I would say this is the crucial aspect their questions are exceedingly simplistic in nature? (implying I would say that they lack the capacity to properly research their own question).
2) Do you think you should change your posting behaviour based on what other members are writing on your posts?
I am putting this question to the community, because I am genuinely interested in what the community as a whole feels. I am under the impression that I keep bumping into a couple of 'die hard' crusaders in my answers that receive this type of attention, and the rest of the otherwise silent majority are of a like mind to myself. They just want to help people.
I am genuinely interested here, however, because it is the community aspect that obviously makes ELU what it is, and that has been integral to my experience here in the short time I have been here, so I would like to reflect the wishes of the saner consensus as much as I am able to in my activities on the site.
Thanks for your answers to these questions,
I am sure they will prove enlightening.
Edit: (lest my question should fall foul of the exact defects I am seeking to discuss)
I have made use of the 'what's meta' pages which was useful in deciding to post this question.
"Meta English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is the part of the site where users discuss the workings and policies of English Language"
and 'how do I ask a good question' here
I also explored the 'answering' section of help to check if there were any questions I should specifically not answer, but none are listed.