This is a continuation of Rejecting obvious questions? and Is it okay to ask questions here when Wikipedia already has the answer?.

We get the occasional question where the best answer is to refer the asker to Wikipedia or to a program's reference manual — RTFM questions.

A general reference close reason is currently under evaluation on two Stack Exchange sites, Science Fiction and Fantasy and English Language & usage. Being a regular on SF&F, I can report that we don't use it often, but it feels like a reasonable filter.

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.

Do we want this close reason on Unix & Linux as well?

In the meantime, should we close questions such as What is a zombie process? as “too localized”, since the “this question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors”?

  • 1
    In the mean time I don't think that particular question should be closed in spite of it's obvious problem because it's not a well known thing and goes against the assumptions people make when they first see it. I've watched people try killing them repeatedly and then reboot to clean-up when that failed. Perhaps having had the question go by will keep some poor soul from trying that and not knowing why it "worked".
    – Caleb
    Jul 26, 2011 at 22:03

3 Answers 3


Yes having a general reference close reason would help. I expect it to be used fairly rarely, but the problem cases tend to be from repeat users so having the explicit close reason would help set a precedent for what they should and should not do. Closing with reasons that don't fully match the scenario make it harder for them to learn proper etiquette and sometimes they even feel discriminated against.

  • Yep, I really dislike seeing closing reasons that mismatch the real (and justified) closing reason. Aug 29, 2011 at 23:15

I'll look into how "general reference" has been going on SFF and ELU. That particular close reason makes me nervous; I think people are going to interpret it as "come on, everyone knows that", when this site has shown me how easy it is to not know things about *nix that other people would find trivial. It begs for the same abuse that NaRQ gets, where people close perfectly valid questions because they're "too simple"


This looks like a very good idea to adopt. Especially on the site devoted to unix & linux, for which there is a solid general source of basic knowledge in the form of man program. I think that a general advice to look at the manpage before posting should appear in FAQ or even better, the "How to Ask" box. That might prevent some obvious questions like this one.

You must log in to answer this question.

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