What questions do we consider too basic to ask? This question of mine had 5 upvotes but was closed by Robert Cartaino (who is a StackExchange employee so there was no "vote to close" action). Robert obviously has his opinion but I think that we as a community should come to some sort of decision on this matter.

2 Answers 2


I find the close reason a bit strange as well. He says:

"[I]t can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information".

That would be what? Wikipedia? The Bitcoin FAQ?

I punched "how did bitcoin start" into Google, FWIW, and most of the links didn't actually answer that question. I checked the Wikipedia entry on 'Bitcoin' and the 'History' is only recent history. The 'Creator' section has a very brief description of the Bitcoin paper, when it was published, and that an open source project followed. That's about it.

So it seems, at least to me, that a very good answer to this question is pretty hard to find and requires following links and scraping details from multiple locations.

Maybe I just missed the perfect link, but if I did, so will other people. And it's actually an important question because understanding the source of something is the first step to making a decision whether to trust it. (It's not always an important deciding factor, but knowing it is the first step in order to decide how important it is.)

  • +1 I also like the question
    – nmat
    Sep 8, 2011 at 22:56
  • voted to reopen Sep 9, 2011 at 17:15

The Meta.SO FAQ has seems to indicate to me that it is not acceptable to deride users for asking easily Googleable questions (see here and here). As such, it seems to me that no question is too basic to ask on an established SE site.

That said, while building the community, it is important to build content that will attract experts. Novices might come to a community of experts, but the reverse won't happen. As such, it might be that such a question, while appropriate for a public SE site, might be too basic for a beta SE site (or at least a private beta SE site).

  • 3
    note that "no question is too basic to ask on an established SE site." is not true. cstheory.SE only allows research level (or interesting to researchers) questions. Any basic question is closed or migrated. Thus, it is completely upto us to decide what is too basic. Sep 9, 2011 at 13:11

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