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I like to add questions and answers to help topics based on what I see people mentioning that they don't quite understand in questions, answers, and comments. Or if I just think it would be helpful to people in general.

Here are some of the Q&As I've started with this idea in mind, to give you an idea of the type of Q&A I'm talking about:

What, exactly, is "ich"?

What terms are used for mice that are fed to snakes, and what are their meanings?

What does "Het" mean when talking about reptiles?

What is a "sump" when talking about aquariums?

What is brumation?

What does it mean to "overstock" a fish tank?

My bearded dragon has stopped growing, is it possible I got a Rankin's dragon?

What is the difference between a tortoise and a turtle?


While doing this, I've received a couple comments on some of the different Q&As, that the questions were easily googled and the correct answers came up right away, so that I shouldn't be putting them on our site.

I don't see any reason why we can't have our own versions on our site. That way if one of the other sites gets turned off or something, our copy would be available. On the other hand, I can see for some of the topics, that there are already so many articles on it, that I would just be adding another copy among dozens of others.

So if the topic is already covered by other sites, should I be spending my time covering the topics here? Or should I be pointing people to the topics on other sites if they have questions?

  • One thing to keep in mind is that the downvote button says "this shows no research effort" – Ash Jun 25 '14 at 16:37
  • @AshleyNunn hmmm that's true. Great, now I think I have another question. >.< – Spidercat Jun 25 '14 at 16:42
  • Already been asked. Though I'm still unsure about it. I can't tell if it's talking about questions or answers. meta.pets.stackexchange.com/q/492/481 – Spidercat Jun 25 '14 at 16:46
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Yes you should.

At site like StackOverflow they have a different scope, they expect you to have done some research and trying to solve your problem on your own before asking there. Some people may feel that the same applies here.

We have a different scope here "we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about pets". We expect pet people to come here first and find the best answer as voted by the community.

Answering the question yourself is also OK.

  • We do however, want to make sure that we don't open ourselves up too far, though. (I don't think we are in danger of that but it is always something to keep in mind, I think.) – Ash Jun 25 '14 at 19:13
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The problem with expecting people to have typed their search into google before asking on pets.SE is that there is a lot of information out there, some of which is confusingly written, some of which contradicts other parts, some of which is self-contradictory, and very little of it is moderated.

Plus, of course, Baam's question and the associated answers note issues such as vested interests driving some of the advice.

One of the strengths of the StackExchange format is that it is community-moderated by virtue of the voting system. This gives it the advantages that, say, Wikipedia has in that information can not only be found but also backed up with references, or updated, or refuted. This is in stark contrast to the traditional forum-based sites for Q&A, where each answer remains in its chronological sequence, and reading through such a discussion can leave the reader more confused than they were before.

For this reason, yes, these questions should be asked and authoritatively answered on here, as long as the final judge is the quality of answers rather than any of the other, possibly easier, available metrics.

  • Typing into Google is not the problem, it is why we want to have the Q&A for these types of questions. Which is why twice yearly we do a Site Self-Evaluation – James Jenkins Jun 26 '14 at 9:43
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I agree with James of course, but I just wanted to expand on it a bit.

I think the rules were made with programming in mind. While the format of the site works well for us, some of the rules might get stretched a bit.

With programming, when asking a question, the last thing you want is for someone to do a "code dump" dropping huge blocks of code and asking why it doesn't work. It creates stress for people who could potentially answer the question, and drives people away. Stating that a question shows no research effort means that the person hasn't shown any interest in getting help, rather they're a help vampire dumping code to get fixed.

We don't have to worry about code dumps here. What I do think we have to worry about, is people finding advice elsewhere. With programming, there is very little competition because code simply does not format well in forum settings. Meanwhile, advice on pet care does. We actually have to compete with forums on the quality and availability of advice and knowledge.

I understand the worries that we don't want to encourage people to ask bad questions. But to me, just because it's easily found elsewhere doesn't mean it's lacking research. I'm more concerned that we're going to see more vague questions like this rather than ever finding a question that doesn't show enough research.

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    I agree but for the most part they should be grown organically. Its one thing to ask the question like you did about tortoises and turtles. There was a question where the terms were misused and you asked a question to clarify. Perfect use. If you are going to ask and answer the question yourself with out the seed, then the answer should be extremely high quality and thorough. – Critters Jun 26 '14 at 18:18

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