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In comments to this question, a somewhat emotional, but still useful discussion has raised.

In my understanding, the OP has not made an effort to search for existing questions. Another user suggested that the OP has searched for "told+said" and found nothing.
I have checked it by myself and found that searching by infinitive ("tell+say") returns the relevant question as the first result.

The discussion then turned to the point that ELL users are, supposedly, that much incompetent so that they are unable to do any search by themselves. And, because of that, ELL should have special requirements regarding searching prior asking a question.

My point is that there should be standard requirements discussed many times, including Joel's blog. Therefore, duplicate questions should be closed along with other content of poor quality.

At the moment, I have just casted my close-vote, but I'd like to have more opinions. What's the truth?

P.S. Voting up = same rules as everywhere; Voting down = special rules for non-searchers.

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  • One unfortunate aspect is that OPs are presumed guilty until proven innocent. :/ – Andrew Grimm Jan 29 '13 at 23:59
  • @AndrewGrimm Strictly speaking, everyone has to prove prior search. The readers do not have to prove the "guilt". :) – bytebuster Jan 30 '13 at 0:02
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    I've edited my comment to indicate I was talking in general, rather than with this particular question. I trust you weren't missing the point on purpose. – Andrew Grimm Jan 30 '13 at 0:04
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    No retraction or anything. Looks like you were missing the point on purpose. For this, and for being biased and erroneous on several points (as pointed out by J.R.), I'm downvoting this question. – Andrew Grimm Jan 30 '13 at 2:48
10

It's difficult to follow the argument in the comments at that question; but it appears that your fundamental complaint is that OP did not adequately search existing questions, since such a search, carried out intelligently, would have arrived at the question which you suggest as a possible duplicate.

But that question is not a duplicate. OP's question is directed to a point of grammar: the arguments taken by say and tell. The question you point to, and its answers, are entirely concerned with the lexical distinction between two different verbs, talk and speak, and nowhere address grammatical distinctions.

If you believe the question to be a duplicate, you should closevote the question; but I don't think there's justification here for that.

If you want to fault OP for inadequate research, you should inform him in the comments where the inadequacy lies and what he may do to remedy it; and if you think it a seriously disfiguring fault, you should downvote the question. There may be evidence for that; but it is not the evidence you cite.

In any case, I should like to draw your attention to this posting by KitFox on ELU-Meta. It's something I remind myself of every week, because it marries pragmatics and generosity. Allow me to quote the critical part:

For our voting community

Before you downvote:

  • Did you ask the OP to clarify and give them at least one day to do so?
  • Did you edit the OP's question to include information that the OP had buried in the comments?
  • Did you clean up and retag the question so it was clearer and easier for other users to find (even if it was a dupe and even if it was off-topic)?
  • Is the OP a new user who needs some extra consideration because maybe they can't figure out how to edit their own question, or maybe they've been overwhelmed by an overgrown comment chain?

You are not required to leave a comment if you downvote, but the site won't improve if you don't.

Downvoting should be the last thing you do, not the first.

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  • Thank you for the insight. And regardless that Q - do we fully follow SE rules as per adequate search effort, or invent some relaxed rules? – bytebuster Jan 30 '13 at 0:41
  • @bytebuster I think KitFox' remarks, which I added as you were posting, are relevant to that question. My own opinion is that we should probably make more effort than ELU does, not to bend the rules but to show new users how to follow them. I'm glad you have raised this matter; I hope it will prompt me to be more conscientious about improving new users' questions. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 30 '13 at 0:45
  • Make sense, thanks. At least, now I believe we follow same rules as the rest of SE. Still, what about searching prior asking? Someone has argued that ELL is a different context for this matter. :*) – bytebuster Jan 30 '13 at 0:54
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    @bytebuster Show em how to do it the first time. The people who get it will follow, the ones who don't get it will be miffed and go away, and we'll all win. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 30 '13 at 1:00
  • I did. :-( I've been answered that searching for "told" is okay, but trying to search for "tell" requires extraordinary effort which no language learner can afford. :) – bytebuster Jan 30 '13 at 1:15
  • @bytebuster: I never said ELL is "a different context," requiring "different rules," nor that searching for tell would require "extraordinary effort". Those are your inaccurate interpretations of my remarks. – J.R. Jan 30 '13 at 1:20
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    @bytebuster Take it a step farther. I've just talked myself into this - take a look at the comments and my edit. ... I suspect you're not aware of the backstory on ELU, which is where most of us come from; take a few hours to browse ELU-Meta for the last six months, and see how bitter things can get at times. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 30 '13 at 1:50
  • I have seen questions being downvoted and closed in under two hours here....so, couldn't agree with this post more!! – Mohit Feb 1 '13 at 1:56
4

Your meta question is biased and erroneous on several fronts.

1) I'll start with this comment:

Another user suggested that the OP has searched for "told+said" and found nothing.

I never suggested that the O.P. searched for "told+said". I asked you a simple question, "How can you tell no search was done?" In that question, I provided an example query to demonstrate that it very possible for an O.P. to conduct a related search that fails to find a particular answer. However, these comments do not "suggest" that the O.P. made that search, or any other. Instead, I was merely illustrating how it would be difficult to prove an allegation you had made earlier in the conversation, which I found a tad presumptuous. Here is a quote (even though your comment has since been removed):

Also, asking a Q without prior searching is called "no search effort".

2) As for this comment:

I have checked it by myself and found that searching by infinitive ("tell+say") returns the relevant question as the first result.

this has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The fact that a particular search could find a relevant answer does not prove that a user hasn't attempted to find an answer. Moreover, you speak as though your search "proves" something, as if somehow I was claiming that your answer could not be found:

You told me it isn't searchable, I proved it works.

Fact is, I tested a similar search before I posted my comment, so I already knew your answer was findable (although in my search it was #4 out of 10 results).

It looks to me like your reasoning goes as follows:

a) An answer to an earlier question already answers the O.P.'s question.
b) Had the O.P. seen that answer, there would be no need to ask this question.
c) Since the O.P. has asked the question, then the O.P. has not seen that answer.
d) Since the O.P. has not seen that answer, the O.P. must not have searched for an answer before asking.

3) As for this comment:

The discussion then turned to the point that ELL users are, supposedly, that much incompetent so that they are unable to do any search by themselves. And, because of that, ELL should have special requirements regarding searching prior asking a question.

This seems like your personal interpretation of the conversation, although I would not draw the same conclusion. I don't think anyone was arguing that ELL users are "incompetent" nor are they "unable to do any search by themselves."

4) You never did address one of my key points in the debate: namely, that the answer in this case is conveniently something you composed yesterday. As such, it would be ridiculously easy for you to find that answer with a query, yet other users might have a harder time finding your text. Instead of acknowledging that obvious point, you've used it to jump to another hasty conclusion:

it requires some thinking to use infinitive instead of past tense, but do we need questions asked with no prior thinking? [emphasis in the original]

Unless I'm misinterpreting that remark, it seems to imply that, because one user did not find an answer you knew existed, not only did that user not do any research, but that user also did not even exercise any careful thought prior to asking.

5) As for this comment:

Voting up = same rules as everywhere; Voting down = special rules for non-searchers.

There are several reasons I might vote your meta question down. After all, it's rife with logical errors and hasty conclusions. However, I don't believe there should be special rules for non-searchers.

Lastly, there is a certain element of hypocrisy in your overall argument that bothers me quite a bit. You mentioned that:

now I'm convinced that, indeed, no search was done. [emphasis in the original]

Yet the evidence you cite to support that conclusion is a search that finds an answer. In other words: asking a question when an answer to that question is already available is supposedly proof that no research was done. You have also made this comment:

Questions must be for real problems. If I want to ask, I search. If I find an answer, there's no longer a problem.

However, you have asked 12 questions on this site! Therefore, if anyone here can do an internet search and find an answer to one of your questions on the first page of results, then, by your logic, your question should be closed as well.

So, let's start with this one:

“The bass drop is so sick!…” - how to understand it?
Being a fan of a dubstep music, I often see comments like this:

  • "Looooove this tune! The bass drop is so sick!..."

To my understanding, sick has negative connotation. Merriam-Webster defines this word as "affected with a disease or disorder", either physically or mentally.

However, the phrase above looks rather positive (even if followed with something like "...my ears were bleeding").

What's the point?

Using the logic you've applied in your earlier conversation, I could point to this link, or this link (Meaning 12), and conclude that you obviously haven't followed your own advice, that your question should be closed, and that someone should chide you with a comment saying:

Also, asking a Q without prior searching is called "no search effort".

or:

M-W? Try a better dictionary.

It looks to me like, when you can't find an answer, it's still a valid question, but, when someone else can't find your answer, then that's "no search effort."

Does anyone else in the community see a double-standard here?

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