Is a question ever so simple that answering isn't considered necessary because the answer is readily available, e.g. via a web search?

This comment and associated question provides the background for asking this.

3 Answers 3


No a question is never so simple to best be left to a google search. Most of the questions posted here so far are also covered on the web, if not all of them. The site is supposed to be a collection of all homebrew questions and a ranking of the valid answers as voted by the community. When you do a web search for an answer you have no idea to what level of confidence you should accept that answer. StackExchange lets you see exactly what a community of like minded people think of an answer.

  • 3
    Having great answers to the simple stuff really makes a big impact on beginning brewers and ultimately helps to grow the community.
    – chatche
    Mar 6, 2012 at 21:27
  • 1
    Sometimes (on other sites and topics) I have searched a question on google, found a similar or same question and it takes me to a forum and the response is go google it. THAT'S HOW I GOT HERE!!!!! lol Feb 4, 2014 at 17:27

I disagree with this and I think there should be a 'general reference' close topic added. This is discussed here: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/02/are-some-questions-too-simple/

It's implemented on a few other stackexchange sites with this explanation:

General reference: this question is too basic; the answer is indexed in any number of general internet reference sources designed specifically to find that type of information.

I saw it recently on english.stackexchange.com

There are questions that are too simple. For example, "What is malt?". This is homebrewing related, but the answer is in any dictionary, basic text, encyclopedia, wikipedia, etc. If you don't know what malt is, you probably should look it up elsewhere, because you will have a hard time understanding just about anything on the site without this knowledge.

Here's an example of question that is too simple on the site, and I'd argue that it brings down the quality of the site:

What are finings? How do finings work?

No one answered this question, so the asker copied and pasted an answer to his own question from wikipedia (with quotes and attribution). I would say there was some value to having it on the site if it were something where an expert could make a valuable contribution to the subject, but in a question like this, how is that possible?

It's like asking "What is addition? How does it work?" on math.stackexchange.com.

Therefore, I think a close option should be added for reason of being too basic.

The only worry is that it is tricky one to apply, because there is a fine line between something like "What is mashing?" which I think would be too basic and something like "What is conversion?" which I also think is too basic, but has triggered some interest.

An alternative might be to flag posts like this as community wiki.

  • I see your point, but I don't think malt is a good example. There was a time when I didn't know what malt is. I had to read it from John Palmer's "How to brew" book. There are many brewers that brew from extract without ever touching malt or understanding how it is made, so it's more than an elementary question.
    – mdma
    Jan 27, 2014 at 13:16
  • Ok. Do you think "what are hops?" or "what is yeast?" are too simple? Maybe a better question is, could you give an example of a question that's too simple, or do you believe that no question that someone would actually ask is too simple?
    – paul
    Jan 28, 2014 at 4:29
  • YAY that was my question, lol. I knew the answer, I wrote the question to pull people to site from search engines. I thought it would help the site grow. Plus answering such a basic question hopefully would limit it being asked in future when the site grows. Feb 4, 2014 at 17:31
  • I think it was in response to previous idea I posted of pulling in questions that people ask from Youtube homebrew community. Feb 4, 2014 at 17:32
  • Hey, thanks for offering your opinion in the debate. Obviously I disagree with you :) I guess it's a philosophical difference, which seems to be handled differently across StackExchange sites. Some sites say there are questions that are too simple, some don't.
    – paul
    Feb 4, 2014 at 21:33

No, If you don't want to answer a simple question then you are free to leave it, but let it ride. Someone else probably will answer it, so leave simple questions to junior members to answer and grow reputation. Intervene if the question is poorly written, answers are incorrect, duplicate question ect ect.

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