Why do I need to do any research before asking a question here?
When you post a question on this site, you're asking people to do some work for you. You're asking them:
- to read your question, understand it and assess what it is you need to know.
- to assess whether they can (and want to) answer.
- (if they don't have the answer at their fingertips, which is very possible given our subject matter) to do some research to help you.
- to craft an answer to your question that takes into account what you already know.
[I've seen the argument made that posting a question isn't asking anybody to do research they haven't already done. I think this is ignoring the basic nature of genealogists and family historians -- we like to do research and we like to help other people. IMO, if you ask a question here, you should expect somebody to try to help even if they haven't previously done the requisite work.]
If you're expecting people to do some work for you, it isn't too much to ask that you do some work for yourself. Our faq says:
The community tends to respond better to questions that show you have already done some research (at least used a search engine or consulted a dictionary) before asking for help.
And, as others have said, it's helpful and courteous to include (or reference) in the question what you already know that is relevant to your problem and what you have already tried to solve it. Helpful because it will get you a better, more targeted answer (one that might identify a problem in the work you've done to date as well as providing some new information) and courteous because it will avoid anyone wasting their time repeating the work you've already done.
I've tried searching but didn't find what I was looking for.
Tell us what you've tried anyway. There's nothing wrong with not knowing the right terms to search for. And there's nothing wrong with not being able to judge which (if any) of the results that your search engine returns is the 'right' answer. And somebody having the same problems searching successfully will find your question and benefit from it as well.
I really haven't done any research!
Most of the time you'll get the benefit of the doubt and we'll assume you've done something before posting here. However, there's a 'tooltip' if you hover over the downvote button for a question that says this first of all:
This question does not show any research effort
If you really haven't done any prior research and that's evident from the question (or from the pattern of your questions), one or more of a number of things might happen:
- Your question won't get an answer.
- Your question will get downvoted. If you're lucky, there'll be constructive comments explaining why.
- In extreme cases, when your question is judged to be "ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad ... and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form" because of a lack of supporting information, it might be closed.
- Least likely, you will get an answer, for example, if it isn't too much work for somebody or the question is a common one that will come up again and so might as well get answered the first time around.
So mostly, you won't get what you need if you don't put in a little work of your own and show that you have done so.