I'm often annoyed at questions that Wikipedia answers comprehensively and with quotable references.

On the one hand, asking such a question shows a lack of initial research. On programming Q&A sites it is common practice to not answer questions that lack a snippet of code showing an attempt to solve the problem. On this site, using Google to search for an easily available answer is (or should be) a prerequisite to asking other members to do time consuming research.

On the other hand, why invent the wheel a second time? Following Jeromy Anglim's motivation that with our work here we want to make the web a better place by providing information, I don't see ourselves in competition with Wikipedia and similar public and commonly known resources. If those sites already provide a good answer, then our goal is met and we need not outrival them.


Question: What is the psychology of notification colour?
Answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red#Warning_and_danger

  • I really do not see the point in discussing this aspect - I came back here to ask questions about my field of interest (psychology of colour) and to answer where I can - not to be bogged down about the semantics of how a question is written. Too busy to be dealing with being called out about the wording or the content of a question, rather than reading an answer.
    – user3554
    Sep 18, 2013 at 6:21

2 Answers 2


I don't mind if a question has a reasonable answer on Wikipedia. A simple solution is for someone to provide an answer that links to and paraphrases Wikipedia. Alternatively, a user may surprise us and come along and provide an answer that is better than that provided by Wikipedia.

A few benefits of this approach:

  • People in the future searching for the question, may not immediately realise what particular article in Wikipedia is relevant and why it is relevant. Thus, this question may help others find the relevant part of Wikipedia that answers their question.
  • It encourages people to ask questions. An issue for this site is the lack of questions. Thus, I'm wary of putting up too many impediments to asking questions. I think if the question is clear, of the correct scope, answerable, and concerned with cognitive sciences, then I generally like to keep it.
  • In general, I don't think questions need to show evidence for initial research. I like initial research, and such questions tend to be more interesting, but I don't think it should be the defining criteria of a useful question. I'm interested in whether the question is answerable. My evaluating rule for questions puts little weight on the person asking the question, and more weight on whether a useful internet resource will be created.

I also don't think a user should feel guilty for posting an answer that links back to Wikipedia. Let's increase the overall number of questions asked and answered on this site. If a few of those questions are easy Wikipedia ones, so be it.

See also these thoughts on need for initial research.

The Example of psychology of colors and notifications

I think the Internet is a better place if the question can be linked to the specific Wikipedia article. Furthermore, much more could be said about the psychology of colour perception and notifiers than is provided in the existing wikipedia article. Also, such an answer could link to the Wikipedia article and also explain its relevance to the specific features of the question.

  • 2
    I think the internet is a better place when peer reviewed resources are used in an answer, and recognition that some do not trust Wikipedia as a credible source.
    – user3554
    Sep 18, 2013 at 6:23
  • @UV-D +1 I agree. A good peer reviewed research answer is ideal. I hope my answer didn't imply otherwise. Sep 18, 2013 at 6:53
  • Which is what I was after in the question, not an in depth discussion about this kind of semantics, and not to be belittled in the comments.
    – user3554
    Sep 18, 2013 at 6:58
  • 3
    Okay. I hope the meta doesn't distract too much. Regardless, it's good to have you back involved with the site. :-) Sep 18, 2013 at 7:27
  • Thank you, good to be back (for the most part), still getting distracted about this semantic debate in chat (just simply not interested).
    – user3554
    Sep 18, 2013 at 19:38
  • "In general, I don't think questions need to show evidence for initial research." — Years passed and the community has decided that this is not acceptable
    – Ooker
    Apr 27, 2022 at 23:29

Comprehensively doesn't always mean easily absorbed or digested. Academic articles on Wikipedia can be extremely difficult to read, especially to the lay person. While informative, accurate and of high quality, such articles can leave folks more confused than they were when they arrived. When I needed to dig deeper into graph theory, particularly small world networks, it was often quite painful.

I don't see anything wrong with someone that can teach the topic doing so. By teach, I mean explain a concept in a manner that even someone without as much prior knowledge would be able to understand, at least to the point of researching and learning more independently. If someone that genuinely knows the topic well enough to teach it, and can write in an engaging and entertaining way, I don't see why we'd want to object.

Wholesale copying without adding much is another matter, if you're not going to add or change much, there's not much point in duplicating information. Still, if you look at what's there and see that it's dry and hard to digest - it's always a great idea to try and make it better, easier to consume and easier to appreciate. This, of course, when it makes sense to do so. Some things are just, well, hard.


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