6
$\begingroup$

On the "How to ask good questions" help page, it says to search on the Stack Exchange Chemistry site to see if someone already has asked my question. It also says to mention related questions that did not fully answer my question to avoid closure as duplicate. How do I find these questions?

For more sophisticated search strategies, see answers to this and that meta post.

$\endgroup$
9
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't this a duplicate of Instead of writing a comment asking the OP to google it, we should sometimes ask them to stackexchange it? $\endgroup$
    – andselisk Mod
    Sep 8 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? Searching guidelines for newbie $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Sep 8 at 22:05
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Ah, a duplicate about searching for duplicates ;D $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Sep 8 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron Very meta, I agree $\endgroup$
    – Karsten Mod
    Sep 8 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ So that's the right place here ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Sep 8 at 23:52
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ If I could make a suggestion: Add the faq-proposed tag to this, incorporate all relevant info from the other questions (I strongly recommend adding the Google search tip, because that's far better than SE search; @andselisk's answer can pretty much be copy pasted imo). Once this is complete, or sufficiently complete, change the tag to faq and close the others as duplicates of this. I think there is value in having centralised, curated information, rather than a bunch of posts on Meta which are (ironically) difficult to search for. $\endgroup$ Sep 9 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ That said, meta FAQs also have to be advertised somehow, whether it's in the sidebar that people see when they ask questions, or through aggressive commenting (I guess we kind of do that with the mathjax FAQ). Otherwise, if nobody sees it, it's wasted effort. OK, enough from me, I'm not a mod any more. :-) $\endgroup$ Sep 9 at 8:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @orthocresol Please always do make suggestions! $\endgroup$ Sep 9 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ On a more technical note, I have taken the liberty to (1) make this a proposed FAQ, (2) feature it, (3) wiki it [we're heading there]. Please join editing it! $\endgroup$ Sep 9 at 23:44

4 Answers 4

2
$\begingroup$

While you ask your question

Once you entered the title of your question, question that are related to the title will show up. You should check if any of these answer your question. Here is an example for a very basic question (so basic that it would be faster to search for an answer directly on the internet):

enter image description here

You are presented with similar questions, and the number of answers is given directly. To check out the questions and answers, just click on the titles.

If the provided answers don't answer your question, but you are asking questions very similar to questions already there, you should mention those (there is a "share" button under each post, giving you the link for easy copying and pasting).

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Searching on related sites

If your question is interdisciplinary, or you are not sure which site is appropriate (e.g. Chemistry or Physics/Biology/Matter modeling/History), you can search on multiple sites simultaneously. For example, a question about the "quantum nature of the electron" could be physics or chemistry, so search all of StackExchange:

enter image description here

As you can see, both physics and chemistry posts come up in the search. Of course, you have to refine your search (and your question) to get more meaningful results.

Once you know the relevant sites for your question, it might make sense to search specifically on those sites, one by one, to get better search results.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Before you ask your question

Here, we are using a very basic question as the example (so basic that it would be faster to search for an answer directly on the internet).

You go to the StackExchange Chemistry site and enter your question (or some words from your question) into the search bar.

enter image description here

Depending on the details, you get slightly different answers, so try a couple of search terms. Here is the one for the complete question:

enter image description here

And here we just use the interesting words (without the common words "what", "the", "of"):

enter image description here

These two searches give you access to the keywords "water", "boiling-point" and others. You can use those in the search in brackets, e.g. "[water]", searching for those questions that have this keyword.

When you click on one of the questions (notice they are listed with the number of votes, the number of answers, and a check mark for those with an accepted answer), you will unlock more ways of finding similar questions:

enter image description here

On the right sidebar (on a big screen) or under the question (on a small screen), you will find related questions. Just click on one of those to see if it is more relevant, or has answers more relevant to you.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

After you ask your question, in preparation for editing or deletion

After you post your question, you might see related questions on the side bar. If these are relevant, you can edit your question and refer to them (they become linked questions, and will appear higher up ion the right side bar). Mentioning why these questions don't fully answer your question will improve your question, and make it less likely to be closed as a duplicate.

If your question is answered by the related question and its answers, you have the possibility of deleting your question (this might make sense if it has down-votes that affect your reputation points), or leave it (it will probably be removed automatically eventually, or will be closed as duplicate).

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ I find it extremely useful to "babysit" my questions for several hours (keep checking on them) in order to address comments, especially those like "Does this answer your question?" Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. In the latter case one must quickly link to the proposed duplicate in the body of the question by editing it, and explain there (not just in comments) why it's different from the current question. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 19 at 23:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh You get a "Does this answer your question" whenever there is a vote to close as duplicate. Not all related questions are easy to find, but some people remember older questions that are similar, even when the keywords and the title seem unrelated. $\endgroup$
    – Karsten Mod
    Sep 20 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ Yes indeed I do! And some of them are way off base but can nonetheless trigger a close vote avalanche of reflexive close voting if the titles are similar. So I find it extremely useful to "babysit" my questions to head off the insta-close events that shouldn't happen, as well as to edit or even change it to make it different, or sometimes vtc myself if it really is a duplicate. Basically I'm just saying that keeping a close eye on one's question is a good habit to get into. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 20 at 7:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .