General thoughts on questions and comments
I think we should strive to keep our questions per day count at a healthy level. One way to get more questions is to look for ways to be welcoming and inclusive.
In general, I like to edit questions from new users where they are otherwise likely to be closed. I find that often there is an interesting question that just needs to be refined a little bit so that it can be expressed in a scientifically answerable way.
I also like it when new users receive welcoming or at least encouraging comments. I like the thought that the site is a welcoming place.
Thoughts on prior research
I agree that good scientific questions will typically show prior research. However, I don't think that prior research per se should be a requirement for questions on this site. I'm much more concerned with issues like:
- Is the question answerable in a scientific way? (e.g., Is the scope of the question appropriate?)
- If such a question was answered, would it improve the Internet?
If the question is easy to answer, then someone will probably add an answer, and that will be the end of it.
I think it's much more important that answers are held up to standards of scientific rigour. For questions it's more important that they are answerable and interesting.
Importantly, I don't care whether the person asking the question is lazy or uninformed. Helping the person asking the question is of a distant second priority. I care about creating resources that will make the site and the Internet as a whole a better place.
A few concrete examples
Example 1: Is there a correlation between EQ (EI) and IQ?
This question showed no initial research, but it was answerable. In fact it is a question that is of interest to the scientific literature. A Google search pulls up a range of resources including this uninformed Yahoo Answer, commercial products, and a variety of overviews of emotional intelligence. None answer the question. Thus, I also think it passed the "would it make the internet" a better place test.
Example 2: Why do people donate money to others engaging in activities for charity?
Note that I did edit the question from its initial form.
This question does not mention the research literature on gift giving at all. It shows no initial research other than a little self-reflection. It has a fairly broad scope, but I think that ultimately reasonable answers could be provided, and that there is a scientific literature on gift giving. I think that the question itself is interesting.
Example 3: Why do humans prefer symmetrical arrangement of objects?
This question shows no prior research. The question is fairly interesting. The scope if possibly a bit broad, but there is a scientific literature on the topic that makes a reasonable answer possible. I think that it makes the Internet a better place.
Counter example 1: What's being challenged in our mind when playing games? [closed]
The question has something to do with why people enjoy challenges in games. However, it combines specifics about chess with something about the size of working memory with discussion of angry birds. It asks for a very general reference to something to read to learn more about something that is ill-defined. Thus, I think it was reasonable to close because the question did not have a defined scope. It also didn't show any initial research, but I think the bigger issue was that the question was not easily answerable in the form provided. For example, if the same user asked a very specific question about Angry Birds or chess it might well be answerable.