Research is an important first step in solving problems
Solving problems can be hard work. When we have exhausted our own knowledge, it’s often tempting to simply ask someone else to solve the problem for us. It is very common to find the question we have is one many people have already experienced, and many of these people have already asked about it and have received correct answers in response. Because of the vast amount of information on the internet and Stack Overflow, it often takes just a simple search or two to find them.
Why this is a problem
We have asked a question, but we have not stated what research we have done. This does not mean that we haven’t researched our problem, just that evidence of that research is lacking. People reading our question may not understand, if they know a little research would have found the solution, why we apparently haven’t tried. They may suggest things we have already tried to do through our research, or they may just consider us to be not cooperative and move on. We risk downvotes and lose opportunities to get correct answers for our question.
Why this is worth a downvote
The first part of the text which appears when hovering over the downvote button is “This question does not show research effort”. The first section on the How to Ask page is headed with “Search, and research”. That’s how important research is, not only to Stack Overflow, but to solving problems in general. We owe it to ourselves, and to those who volunteer to help us, to do our best to find solutions to our problems before asking for help.
What to do next
If we have not yet researched our problem, and no one has answered our question, we should delete it. We should keep a link to the question, as we may be returning to improve it. We should then start researching our problem, keeping track of what we searched for, what we found, and why it didn’t help. It’s not necessary for us to link to every site or question looked at, but we should at least reference similar questions, and let people know why the answers did not help. As the How to Ask page says:
Even if you don’t find a useful answer elsewhere on the site, including links to related questions that haven’t helped can help others in understanding how your question is different from the rest.
If our research is fruitful and we have found our answer, that’s great! We can let the question remain deleted. If we found an answer on Stack Overflow, and wish to help people with problems like ours find the solution, we can undelete the question and vote to close it as a duplicate of the solution. If we did not find a solution to our problem, we should return to our deleted question, edit it to add what we researched, what we found, and why it did not help. Once edited, we can undelete the question so people can answer it.
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Once you have done this, leave a comment to the person who sent you this link. They will be happy to retract their downvote.
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