Are questions that show almost no research or are about very general knowledge cooking allowed here?

The reason for my question is this post that I came across. Simply looking at it, I would assume (and it is only my assumption) that people generally know what a spatula is or a rubber spatula is. And even if they don't know, it is easy to find on the web what a rubber spatula is. So, it looks like the OP had done no research at all and makes me wonder how to deal with questions like these.

3 Answers 3


Low research questions are discouraged, although they don't have to be closed outright. However, there is a difference between "low research" and "beginner" questions.

"Low research" is something where the user had a very obvious source and didn't check it. For example, if somebody bought a new espresso automatic machine and asks us how to make cappucchino with it, instead of reading the manual which came with the machine, this would be a question with too little research.

But then there are also the basic questions. The first reaction by many people is indeed being annoyed at being asked something very basic - I have observed it in others, but also catch it in myself frequently. But for the site to work well, we should try to suppress/avoid this reaction. The reason: what is annoyingly obvious to one person is indeed hard for somebody else, and the answer is useful for many people. Sadly, many users don't think about it and tend to overlook and sometimes even downvote the simple questions, but this is not constructive.

The question you linked certainly shows that the OP has little knowledge of baking. In many cultures, these spatulas are ubiquitous, and it is hard to be a baker and not having seen them in a store or a book. But even if the OP lives somewhere where this type of spatula is uncommon, the shape and placement on the picture are suggestive enough for an experienced baker to guess the purpose. However, I think that this is just a beginner-level question and not a low-research question. First, there is no obvious source to consult. I don't know of a comprehensive manual of kitchen implements, at least not one readily available in the average household. Second, there is no way to make a simple Internet search. If the question was the other way round, "What are rubber spatulas used for", this could have been found with a web search. But in this case, the OP doesn't have any good search terms, because she doesn't know the name of the tool. So, I don't see any "low research" problem here.

Note that even if the question had been "what are rubber spatulas used for", this wouldn't have been a reason for closing. Sure, it is easy to find somewhere else. But we don't close questions just because the information is available elsewhere. If we had this policy, we'd have to remove the majority of our questions.


It's very easy to find on the web what a rubber spatula is, but the question wasn't asking what a rubber spatula is, it was asking to identify the utensil in a photo. You don't specify how you would have proposed that the OP search for an answer through alternative means, and I don't see any obvious route.

"Equipment identification" is going to be more or less the same as "food identification", which we grudgingly tolerate. The key criteria is supposed to be that questions should contain a detailed description of the item, so that other people can actually search for it (otherwise it's unlikely that anyone else will ever find the question and thus it's useless to the community). But the dev team took away the "too localized" close reason, which still grinds my gears but means there's not really any appropriate close reason for these.

Keep in mind cultural differences; what may be extremely common where you live could be far less common where somebody else lives. I've been bitten by this myself a number of times.


That one bugged me, and I was disinclined to answer it. It seemed too obvious to be taken seriously. I did answer it and the upvotes and comments made it worth my while.

That indicates something, doesn't it?

Answers to really, really stupid questions don't get upvoted.*

*Apparently wrong, but sounded good when written.

  • +1 just for saying "really, really stupid"....haha that's funny
    – Divi
    Jul 21, 2014 at 14:37
  • @Divi LOL, I just hope that I was clear that the question proved NOT to be really, really stupid! (even though that was my initial reaction) :)
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Jul 22, 2014 at 4:38
  • Yes thanks, it was definitely clear :)
    – Divi
    Jul 22, 2014 at 4:41
  • I posted a question that might help with listing the different types of utensils, tols, etc for future reference for people: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/45765/…
    – Divi
    Jul 22, 2014 at 4:56
  • Answers to stupid questions do get upvoted, far more than answers to smart questions. Not that I disagree with your decision to answer it - but upvotes aren't great as a metric for the usefulness of a question.
    – Aaronut
    Jul 23, 2014 at 1:11
  • @Aaronut I'm guessing I'm thinking of questions that get downvoted into oblivion so no one really sees the answers.
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:11
  • That only tends to happen with questions that are genuinely incomprehensible, or promoting a particularly unpopular viewpoint that borders on trolling (or is trolling). Bikeshed questions are generally stupid, at least in my view, but they are the most massively upvoted of all.
    – Aaronut
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:21
  • @Aaronut Hmm, now that you mention it: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/39611/…
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:27
  • @Aaronut It's awesome when the number of upvotes an answer gets is equal to or greater than the number of words in said answer. There ought to be a badge for that!
    – Jolenealaska Mod
    Jul 26, 2014 at 7:54

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