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I have seen many comments and answers by members here to the effect of "have you tried Googling it". Sometimes it is meant genuinely, but sometimes I get a condescending or snarky vibe from it. Is this really appropriate for this community?

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I am going to post my own thoughts here but I am interested to hear what others have to say as well.

Per Betteridge, my answer is no.

Up until very recently my feelings toward this issue were somewhat ambivalent. I don't think telling someone to google something is particularly productive, but at the same time I think people really should be using Google as a first step. However, I recently gained a different perspective on this after reading a comment from Joel Spolsky (Stack Overflow co-founder and CEO) about how one key contributors to successfully building a community was "using Google as the front page".

So looking at this from a community building perspective, the goal is not whether or not the question has been answered on the internet in general, but whether or not Arduino.SE has provided an answer. If you can google for an issue and Arduino.SE isn't one of the top results for that issue, it means you have identified a gap in the knowledge base here. Try to answer the question as best you can (and perhaps even canonically if the circumstance allows) and suggest improvements to the question as needed so that the question and answer together becomes something that is googleable.

For example, the most recent example of this is this answer here. (Please note this is not meant to be an attack on the person who provided it, in fact I think this person is a great contributor to this community, I just need a reference to illustrate a point.) In this answer, the asker is being directed to another site, a site that (in my opinion) has a terrible user experience (poor layout, content spread across several pages, etc.) that has very little chance of being a good resource for future visitors. We need to be building meaningful content on this site, not sending people to other sites.

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The reply by Jake C is very interesting. Perhaps the user came here because of Google. I think a milder response is usually in order. Something along the lines of:

So you want to make your ATtiny85 have a USB interface? I found quite a few pages about this when doing a search, such as this one.

That is hinting that using Google may help (if the user hadn't already) but is not particularly condescending.

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  • I like that example in general, however, it does seem to drift toward a link only answer... – Jake C Feb 3 '16 at 7:48
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    You might want to add a note to your answer that this should be a comment, not an answer (cc @JakeC). – Anonymous Penguin Feb 3 '16 at 14:47
  • I think in all cases where Google helps provide an answer, the at least the gist of that answer should be rewritten in the post so that it actually brings something. Also links may come and go and in one year, a link-only answer may just become irrelevant! – jfpoilpret Feb 21 '16 at 14:18

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