A poster asks for the definition of a common term that is easily found via a Google search or in Wikipedia.

Is it Ok for my answer to reference the Wikipedia article? Or is providing a link to Wikipedia (or other site) considered a "no no" on stackexchange?

To me, it seems silly to flood workplace.stackexchange with "What is X?" questions that have already been fully answered in places like Wikipedia. To me, this is the definition of a "does not show any research effort" question.

But if this sort of question is allowed to remain, isn't it a waste of time to provide yet another definitional type of answer? Shouldn't this sort of definitional question be off-topic/closed?

  • I wish wikipedia stays forever, but if one day, their ads for donations goes unanswered I am told that site will be shut. Ironically, most google searches for definitions end up with answers on stackexchange. If you hangout enough on other stackexchange sites you will see that the answers to most common questions (which again could be easily looked up your fav search engine) most frequently show up on google searches and are highly refined by the mature community. Dec 15 '13 at 5:24

If the information is readily available (read: on wikipedia or equivalent), then I would link to the wikipedia article, and leave a comment saying something like:

Hey user, and welcome to [workplace.se]! Have you taken a look at this [wikipedia article]? It seems to answer your question pretty clearly, but if your question isn't answered there, any chance you could [edit] it to be more clear about what you're asking that isn't found in articles like that? Thanks in advance!

And then I would vote to close as 'unclear what you're asking'. I don't think this is ideal, but if something can be answered with a quick google search or on wikipedia, I don't think we should just summarize that article. It isn't of much benefit to anyone.

  • 1
    I mostly agree, like 99.9% agree, but it's important we take a step back and ask if the term seems simple to us because of specialized knowledge, because we know what terms to put together in a search in order to come up with the results. Sometimes, finding information isn't too easy if you don't know what you're looking for. In this case, I wonder if a Google search on the terms would have answered the questions.
    – jmort253
    Dec 13 '13 at 3:00
  • 1
    Also, the comment is a great way to expand the question and get more details, which may likely come up in the comments anyway. Thus, we should always be nice on questions like these as they could easily be edited into shape if the asker is simply holding back.
    – jmort253
    Dec 13 '13 at 3:01
  • 2
    @jmort, putting that exact title in to a google search returns a wikipedia article as the first result. It says, "In many disciplines a greenfield is a project that lacks any constraints imposed by prior work. The analogy is to that of construction on greenfield land where there is no need to work within the constrains of existing buildings or infrastructure." If that isn't clear, it's fine to ask, but then the question should be, "I know a greenfield project is X, but what I don't understand is what this means specific to Y", etc.
    – jmac
    Dec 13 '13 at 4:38

We should strive to answer anything that is on topic here. You do not have to up vote those questions but there is no reason to reject them just because they seem simple to you.

"Check Google(or any other site)" is never an appropriate response here or anywhere else on SE. We are attempting to provide a comprehensive compendium for dealing with workplace and job search issues. If someone has a question and they come here first I do not think that is a bad thing.

If you feel the question is beneath you then ignore the question. You do not need to comment, flag, or take any action. If you think it is a bad question for what ever reason you can down-vote. If you have nothing to offer to help improve the question then there is no reason to comment. Your down-vote signifies that you think the question is not of high quality.

I think there are terms that are more common in specific industries/areas that are less common elsewhere. In the Midwest we rarely have companies trying to start a "Greenfield" project. We do not have a huge IT Base and what we have is mostly in support of industry. In Silly valley and the west coast in general I expect there are far more of these types of opportunities. Someone from a foriegn country may have no idea what they mean. Asking for a definition or what they mean in the context should not be something that we rebuke.

  • @JoeStrazzere so down vote it if you feel that way. That does not mean that the question should be closed. But that is only one criteria, the others are is unclear or not useful... I would argue that the question could be useful. But it is your vote. There is not a "Shows no research effort" Close reason. That is intentional. Dec 12 '13 at 18:32

I know that other SE sites tend to close things that are simple/common definitions. I think that's a fine approach for the workplace too. That said, it's not uncommon for an answer to link to wikipedia (or elsewhere) to provide a definition and then elaborate with how it applies to the specific question or the implication of those facts. Those sort of questions provide value I think.

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