The question "How can you do a BMI test?" brought me to the question how we – here on fitness.SE – define the minimal research effort a user should do before asking a question on this site.

I for myself think it is unfriendly to tell someone to simply google something on the one hand, but for some situations this might be the appropriate measure.
So, can we expect users to search Google and Wikipedia before asking here?

  • I agree with you on this topic, and it should be looked into :) (I won't be frequent on here, so don't worry! :P)
    – Grace
    Dec 11, 2012 at 11:36
  • 2
    Generally I search the site to direct someone to questions already answered. However, with this question I didn't find a direct BMI question, so I went ahead and answered. Dec 12, 2012 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


Minimal research by a user depends on the nature of the question. For something that can be considered a beginner type question or "newbie" type question, I expect to minimally see some mention of the findings from a basic lookup of information (Google, Wikipedia, whatever website) and have the question try to delve into something deeper.

If the asker can't answer the idea of the question, "What have you tried?" then leaving comments and guiding the user (try not to clutter the comments too much) to figure out something on his or her own would be a start. Doing so will also prevent questions where people come in and will ask questions in the vein of, "Oh shower me with your information!" without putting thought into what they really want to ask.

Indeed there are questions that can be too general and basic, nothing that a short and simple search would return. While having elementary information on our site isn't necessarily bad, those questions don't tend to be very good within Stack Exchange. The purpose of the site is to really draw out the better and interesting topics, and the questions and answers should reflect a higher quality than what you would see elsewhere.


I think it depends on how well versed the user is in the physical fitness universe. If a person asks a question that is too generic we should help them figure out how to specify the answer. This doesn't mean the thread should become a discussion board. Just that they would probably appreciate the direction and not the generic "this comment has been closed because it is off topic" citing. The person might also be very familiar with Stack Exchange and thought to come here first while not knowing what is considered an aerobic workout.

If a question is asked by someone that has frequented this site it should be better prepared before being posted. For this reason I agree with Matt Chan. However, I think based off user history we should be able to tell if the person is a "newbie" and deserves a gimme on a poorly composed question.

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