Asking someone a question is completely different from looking the answer up. Humans are able to contextualise questions, highlight the important bits and add any info from personal experience, as well as tailor the answer to the the asker and their situation. This can't be done with static information. Saying "just google it/lmgtfy/google is free sweaty" is not a valid or clever answer.

Having access to near limitless information is not the same as being part of a network of knowledge.

@cocoron super agree! Telling someone that you're going to google for them is almost always an asshole thing to do, asking a question is part of a human conversation, and denying that humans are, at our core, social animals and that we have a desire to share information and that information depends on shared context is willfully misunderstanding the human experience entirely.

@WizardSasquatch @cocoron actually googling something for someone is okay, because you can add nessecary context, just telling them to search it is bleh.

@cocoron agree, but with the qualification that there's definitely a place for the sharp retort when a questioner is in bad faith (like people being too lazy to do their job or - more seriously - bad faith debaters who "just want to know more about feminism|trans rights|leftist policy|whatever" but are actually just taking up bandwidth).

@kludgekml @cocoron Absolutely. If you ask me for knowledge that I would traditionally be paid for providing OR that could be easily Googled AND we have no relationship, I think that's really rude. Also, sometimes, the convo I want to have is between other knowledgeable people. Reaching out to have an advanced convo based on some assumptions and constantly having to back track to explain 101 level stuff to hostile people is not fun. It's not respectful on their part.

@kludgekml @cocoron A lot of people will approach highly visible minorities who are experts in their field and demand their labor and time by challenging their assumptions, and it's often an unsubtle means of asserting power and control over utter strangers.

Just remember to establish a relationship and be mindful of the labor one demands.

LB: this isn’t to say that you are responsible for Personally Educating Every Person, not everyone needs to be an activist, there are kinds of activism that don’t involve education et cetera, et cetera

But also I am DEEPLY suspicious of the motivations of anyone who’s activism involves chastising people for being uneducated while refusing to educate them

@cocoron big search engines are also run by powerful corporations and influenced by the status quo and government intervention.

so asking an individual instead of a search engine can yield way more useful and thoughtful results, without having to wade through a bunch of propaganda and vitriol first.

@cocoron I find it interesting that most of the replies to this are focusing on social justice issues in activist spaces, while to me the educate/lmgtfy issue comes up most frequently when helping (grand)parents solve computer issues. In that context, I normally feel that it's more important to teach problem solving in the abstract than it is to teach how to adopt formatting in Word or whatever, even though answering that particular question is trivial

Very true. That's one of the reasons why I ask people online. I like the context of it, and trust their opinions, on the fedi at least.

@cocoron I completely agree that raw information will never be able to replace the quality and nuance of personal interaction.

On the other hand (😀​) one lesson I learned when I was a field tech, was to stop and use my head and take a stab at finding it out on my own before calling the big guns. Finding that balance between utilizing the resources of knowledge around you, and abusing it, can be tricky.

That said, institutional knowledge is rarely recorded. People who "know" are very valuable.

@QBFreak @cocoron

I agree that balancing is important, and tricky. It depends a lot on context. Sometimes asking a question is an invitation to ponder a complex question together. Maybe there are perspectives that you wouldn't consider on your own etc. On the other hand, people's time and attention are limited, and sometimes you just want a piece of information quickly.

@cocoron gosh I am so glad others understand this "just google it" or "just look in a book"

just isn't the same... thank you.

@cocoron another good option when you don't know:
"Let's look it up together!"

I think there are more advantages to it. By asking a question to a person:
- you give them an opportunity to show off their knowledge
- you make sure that you're getting their definition/understanding of the thing, so you don't end up talking about 2 different things without realizing
- asking a question and searching on the internet at the same time can get you the answer quicker than doing only one of those things.

@cocoron As is frequently the case, I find the truth is somewhere in between; extremes are usually bad...

... though not necessarily equally bad. Asking without searching first is socially bad, as in "I don't give a fuck that I make others do what I could have done". Searching without asking is technically bad, as in "That's most probably not the best way to get the answer". From a social standpoint, I would forgive searching w/o asking more than asking w/o searching.


@cocoron Incidentally, the fact that asking w/o searching is the worst of the two extremes from a social standpoint explains negative reactions ranging from LMGTFY to RTFM when the person who asks shows unwillingness to make an effort.

(Note: just to be clear, I wrote 'explains', not 'justifies'.)


@cocoron I tend to tel people to look it up when it's clear that they're JAQing off, Just Asking Questions to try to wedge their usually asshole agenda in

trying to remember not everyone is actually like that is the hard part

@cocoron another thing a lot of people seem to miss is that you often need a lot of knowledge about the topic at hand in order to phrase a google query which returns meaningful results.

So people already knowing a lot about the topic in question will most probably find better results than people new to the subject thinking it is easy to find this information and posting lmgtfy links.

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