A while ago, I had what I thought was a pretty good question which I couldn't find on here. I Googled anyway to try to find some more information, and found the question answered on WordReference forums - forums for people who have questions about languages they are learning. The answer I found there was pretty useful, but I feel like it's a shame that the question will not be available here.

That's what I originally thought, since I assumed if I found the answer to my question on the first result of a Google search, I shouldn't post it. It wasn't a "what does X mean?" generic definition question. I was wondering about the difference between 見える/聞こえる and 見られる/聞ける. But I think it's a shame that this question won't be available here.

Even though I easily found this question answered on another site, what should I do about posting it here? Post it here so that it can be added to the site's collection of questions and answers even though I can find the answer with a simple Google search? Or should I just not post it since, well, I can find the answer with a simple Google search?

(If I somehow missed finding that non-meta question, please link me to it)

4 Answers 4


It seems this issue, and the one of answering one's own questions, has been resolved definitively as a matter of Stack Exchange policy.

Their new blog post makes it clear that posting questions one knows the answer to, which would include questions answered on other sites (since that's how you know the answer), are hoped for on the Stack Exchange network.

The goal being to not only make this a place where one can ask questions, but also a complete resource for all relevant information within the topic of each particular SE site.

  • All of the other answers were definitely insightful and useful, but I'm marking this as the accepted answer since it is based off of a sort of official statement for all of SE.
    – atlantiza
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 1:10
  • I think that blog post was more about asking+answering questions you already know the answer to, which is related but not exactly the same as asking questions which are already answered on other sites and other people answering them, so I think this may be more relevant to meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/331
    – cypher
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 9:03
  • (Don't get me wrong though, I'd love to see a lot more of people asking questions which are already answered elsewhere, especially if they're useful/interesting ones :P)
    – cypher
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 9:04
  • @cypher: Yes, the post about asking and answering questions you know the answer to. But, if you think it through, that is exactly what's happening if you get an answer to your question from anywhere other than this site. Thus, it simply follows logically that the issue in this question is just one way that a person could end up answering their own question. Whether or not they do is up to them, but if answering your own question is allowed, then this question becomes moot.
    – Questioner
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 16:23
  • I don't think that asking+answering your own question is the same as asking+having someone else answer it as somebody else has to spend the time answering it in the latter case. But I personally agree with the meta post I linked to in that it should be OK as long as the questions are interesting. (As a side note, looking at meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/76, it seems trivial/uninteresting questions which don't involve the finer details of the language may already be off-topic/out of scope, which I think might largely cover this anyway.)
    – cypher
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 1:04
  • @cypher: Of course it's different if someone else answers, but that's not what's being asked about here. The questions says, "Even though I easily found this question answered on another site, what should I do about posting it here?". So, the hypothetical poster has found an answer, so they know both the question and answer, and then are wondering if they should post both here. Thus, this is about asking and answering one's own question. The only detail is that this specifies how one came to know the answer.
    – Questioner
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 1:53
  • Yeah, the question could apply to both I guess. If asking+answering your own question, that blog post is reasonably relevant I think (although I think it's less relevant in this particular example if you look at the comment to jkerian's answer.)
    – cypher
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 2:06
  • @cypher: Oh, so you're supposing that someone found an answer elsewhere, but decided to ask here and not put the answer they found? Well, if you think about it, that's not something we need a policy about because we can never know if that's the case (unless we're told). How do you know all the questions on this site weren't asked by people who already had an answer and were just doing it because they wanted to see how people here would respond? I'm guessing that's not really the case, but we just can't know, and so wondering if people did that is not something any policy can cover.
    – Questioner
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 2:11
  • @DaveMG good point :) As I said before, the scope requirements mean that most uninteresting questions that aren't about the finer points of the language are probably off-topic anyway, so I'm not even sure it'd matter if they did so long as it's in scope.
    – cypher
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 2:20
  • 1
    @cypher: Then we are in agreement. So long as a question is within the scope of this site's interests, as defined in the FAQ, then it doesn't matter if the question exists elsewhere, or if the poster already has an answer. :) We have acheieved 和.
    – Questioner
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 3:22

I think this question is relevant to the discussion: Can we ask question for which we know the answer?

In this case, I think it would depend on just how easy it was to find a good answer. If you googled for the answer and almost every link on the first page was a solid answer, I wouldn't bother to copy it here. If, on the other hand, you had to wade through a couple of duds before finding a real answer, perhaps copying the question isn't a bad thing.

Note that you probably cannot copy the answer directly from that other site to here, since someone else can certainly claim copyright (either the poster or the site).

  • I thought of that meta question too, but I think they are slightly different situations. And I wasn't planning on copying the answers or even answering it on my own at all; I would've allowed the lovely JLU members give me their answers and insight. It was not difficult to find at all, though. My first Google search resulted in the first link answering my question. I am still interested in how many up-votes your answer will receive though, so thanks for taking the time to answer.
    – atlantiza
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 22:09

Personally, I'm in favour of questions and answers being on this site even if they are also on others.

For at least four reasons:

  1. People may disagree on which other sites are useful, easy to understand, or have correct information. But, if we're here, then we're in agreement about the usefulness and readability of this site. Gathering information here ensures we're all on the same page (pun intended) in terms of how information be accessed.

  2. Even if people did look the same way, Google and other search engines alter search results based on location and user settings. So what one user found with a Google search isn't necessarily what another user will find (yes, generally they will, but I'm speaking of potential). Gathering information on this site helps ensure we are all referencing the same information.

  3. Other sites may go down, the information may get removed or moderated... so long as this site is active, it might as well endeavour to be a reliably consistent resource.

  4. The more useful information on this site, the more search results it gets and draws more users, increasing traffic, answers, and might get us out of beta or at least help ensure that Stack Exchange doesn't decide it's under the threshold of being worth having.

Bottom line, I don't think what other sites do or have should factor into it. So long as a question falls within the FAQ and guidelines of this site, then a question should be accepted. Encouraged even.


I think a general guideline (borrowing somewhat from our site description) could be:

Will the addition of this question make the Internet a better place for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to find out about or discuss the finer details of the Japanese language?

In the case of your question, I would say to ask it here, even if it was on other sites for the following reasons:

  • There's a lot of noise and incorrect information on other sites such as forums and other Q&A sites, and there's value in asking it here to see how much the opinions of the users of JLU diverge or converge with those other sources.

  • The Stack Exchange voting system, while not infallible, can be a good indicator as to the accuracy of a given answer and is an advantage to asking here over many other sites. The comment system can also help with verifying information in a given answer.

  • There's some very dedicated and knowledgeable people here, and there are viewpoints which would not necessarily be presented on other sites. Even if it's the same or a similar question doesn't mean it will necessarily receive the same answers.

  • There's a chance the other website will go down, so it's good to have the information here as well (though as previously mentioned, there may be problems with copying and pasting answers directly.)

I would also say that even if your question was answered on a Japanese Q&A website (or other Japanese website such as the Japanese Wikipedia etc) but wasn't available in English, it's OK to also ask it here as not everybody using this site would necessarily be able to find, read or fully understand the information, and there may be value in making the information available to an English-speaking audience. It also may be of benefit to ask here to check whether you understood it correctly.

(Note if you didn't understand some of a given answer/explanation on another site, I think it's often a good idea to highlight what you didn't understand in the question, as it often results in more targeted answers and there's a good chance other people will have the same problem.)

However, I think there are some exceptions. When searching for (as a hypothetical question) "what is a Gairaigo?" on Google, it comes up with the English Wikipedia page for Gairaigo as the first result, which I think already has a lot of information and I'm not sure would be better served by the Q&A format of Stack Exchange websites (unless there was an aspect which wasn't already answered there that you wanted to know about.)

In my view there's also not much risk of Wikipedia disappearing from the Internet, so I'm not sure that point would apply in such cases (unless the article itself was removed from Wikipedia, which I think would be possible, though unlikely.)

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