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I realized some SE sites like English Language and Usage have a close reason called "general reference". Why don't we have such a reason to close questions while it's obviously not the same as not constructive and other close reasons. This question, for example.

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    $\begingroup$ It's worth pointing out that on ELU this is stated in FAQ 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. \\They have also discussed what qualifies as a general reference: List of general references. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 3 '12 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: That's the description you see in the picture I uploaded. And yes, if they agree about the need for the reason, we need to discuss what you said afterwards. You're right, thanks. $\endgroup$ – Gigili Jun 3 '12 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ To help focus the discussion could you please give some further examples of questions that you think should be closed as "general reference". Also, what would be the "general reference" that the OP should consult to answer the cited question(s)? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jun 3 '12 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque: I did add one in the question which is a very good example of it, can't think of more now. I'll add more examples. It's mostly about questions which can be answered as "Let me Google that for you". $\endgroup$ – Gigili Jun 3 '12 at 16:43
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We are building the general reference, namely MSE. Allowing closure as a duplicate of an external answer poses various problems.

  • Link Rot. We have no control over the permanence of such links.

  • Quality Control. We cannot control the quality of such content, voting on answers, fixing errors introduced in later edits, etc.

  • Enhancements. We cannot enhance external content, providing links to subsequent related answers, generalizations, specializations, historical notes, etc.

  • Uniform Searches. We can't uniformly search MSE + external content, as we can all of MSE.

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  • $\begingroup$ The search here sucks anyway. Google is probably one of the viable options, and using search-fu one can do all sort of magic tricks. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 3 '12 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf I agree the built-in search leaves much to be desired. But it does offer query capabilities that cannot be easily precisely duplicated by googling with site:MSE. What sort of "search-fu" do you have in mind? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jun 3 '12 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ Nothing specific really, and an experiment I just ran shows that you cannot combine site-specific searches through Google, which I was hoping they'd realized is a good idea by now. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 3 '12 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf What do you mean by you cannot combine site-specific searches through Google? Did you have something like this in mind: choice site:math.stackexchange.com OR site:mathoverflow.net? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 21 '12 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin: Hm. I tried something similar which didn't work. Perhaps they either changed it (who knows?) or I did something other than that. Who knows now... it has been like two weeks! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 21 '12 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila One thing I like about search here is that it allows one to search for $\TeX$ expressions. Here is an example. It's white-space sensitive, but better than nothing. $\endgroup$ – Ayman Hourieh Jan 28 '13 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ @AymanHourieh: That feature is like... two weeks old. This thread, however... is approaching its first year. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 28 '13 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Is the feature new? I only discovered it recently. As for the thread age, someone has just advertised it in main and I wanted to voice my opinion against it. :) $\endgroup$ – Ayman Hourieh Jan 28 '13 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AymanHourieh: Yes. You can look through the meta, there has been a recent announcement on the new search engine capable of searching $\TeX$. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 28 '13 at 0:32

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