I'm in training for my new position. Each day we meet in a computer lab with the same instructor. The company has an internal knowledge center/search engine, kind of like it's own version of google. Pretend it's called yougle.

There are about 30 students in the class (all adults). Some of them ask very strange questions and repetitive questions that are not really on topic. It was taking up a lot of time.

Anyway, the instructor got mad and now doesn't want to answer questions. He always says "check what it says on yougle". I understand the benefit of teaching how to use resources to find answers: "give a man a fish" vs. "teach a man to fish..."; however, this is excessive. I'm trying to do my job of learning, and each time I ask a serious question he basically says "google it". Sometimes what I'm asking isn't even on yougle or the information is outdated.

How should I reply or phrase the questions so as to not get this response in the first place? I'm thinking of "I couldn't find it on yougle, but how do I [insert question]?". If everything is on yougle then why do we have an instructor?

In response to some questions/comments about making sure it's not their: as with google, even the most precise queries result in 1000s of results. So no, I can't say I've thoroughly red through each one. Maybe after he says "yougle it" I can reply, "which phrases should I use?"

  • 10
    You say "Sometimes the thing I'm asking isn't even on yougle". Step one would be making sure it is not sometimes but you have always checked whether the information is available before asking.
    – user45590
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 12:28
  • 3
    say "I asked yougle how to "whatever', and the results were .....". (out-of-data, not relavant, or etc) "This article on yougle claims <whatever>, but 3 other reliable source say the yougle results are bunk. What is your opinion?". Be prepared with supporting evidence. Demonstrate you did research, and he/she should stop assuming your are wasting their time.
    – cybernard
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 12:45
  • 7
    This is excessive" - one man's excessive is another man's *consistent policy to deal with time wasters who don't do basic research themselves.. Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 12:49
  • 4
    Be honest... It's actually called "yougle" isn't it?
    – Steve-O
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 13:46
  • 1
    Question seems pretty clear to me and on topic. Voting to reopen.
    – Chris E
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 14:06

3 Answers 3


Why would the instructor act this way? And why is it wrong?

There are many people who work in computers that have had to learn things by themselves without help "the hard way." Later on when they become expert and are in a position of training others, they feel that their students ALSO must learn as they did-- in a sink or swim fashion. It doesn't have to be this way, but it is nevertheless common especially in computer topics. People tend to behave towards others in the same way they were treated in the past.

Another factor might be that folks who aren't skilled at training, make the oversimplified assumption that answers should only address precisely what was asked in the question. That's wrong in the context of pedagogy (teaching). One of the most critical functions of the instructor is to understand the point of view of the student and "cue" their thought process in the form of questions like "socratic method." Instructors who are experienced and effective always ask many questions of their students. Instead of saying "google it" frequently, the instructor should recognize that students are having trouble with the subject and try to find the underlying causes.

There's something called "the curse of knowledge" and it is very easy trap for instructors who aren't skilled. An instructor who knows a topic operationally and functionally, has a point of view that makes it hard for them to realize how/when a student who lacks the same knowledge might develop a misconception in the subject-matter. This leads to a lack of empathy and impatience for questions that a beginner may ask. This is why being a teacher requires more than simply understanding the subject matter.

Since this is a stackexchange forum, folks are tending to blame the one's asking questions. That's not right for this context. There's a Calvinist-style tradition here where people are expected to demonstrate that they've exhausted all possible options before deigning to ask a question, regardless of whether or not the one asking even knows what those other options are. That's OK for someone reasonably well-versed in the subject matter who needs to look-up a piece of elusive information. It is NOT helpful for students that need some amount of direction and context to just "get started". That's why stackexchange sites are frequently hostile to newbies and those which are looking for a tutorial introduction to some subject-matter.

What can the OP do?

Go ahead and "google it" or find other sources of information and take the time to practice offline. Yes, of course, demonstrate some effort in asking questions like it was stackoverflow. In a classroom setting, however, cracking open a laptop and googling stuff is probably not a good use of time. In the time you spend searching for clues before daring to ask for clarification, other concepts are being presented that build upon each other, you'll miss those and fall further behind. The time to "google-stuff" is in the preparation before class and not in class.

Restructure your questions to be more open-ended. Ask questions that do not have a google-able answer. Instead of asking for facts or "what is?" questions, ask about intent, strategy or "what if?" questions. These lead the answerer to sketch out more context or gain some empathy about how you're looking at the problems. Most students do better if they gain a coherent mental picture of the subject rather a collection of disconnected details. The details can be googled later, IF you know what to look for and what to do with the information.

In the end it is your responsibility to workaround these problems. You can't force someone into being a better instructor. You have to D.I.Y. it in cases like this.

  • 4
    This is more negative on the instructor than I think is warranted. The OP even admits that people have been asking lots of bad questions. It is quite hard to continue to be helpful when those you are helping don't seem to put in minimal effort to the matter.
    – user45590
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 12:30
  • @dan1111 A good teacher changes his approach to teaching if the students ask bad questions. I suspect OP is in a situation where a demotivated or (pedagogically) unqualified teacher is combined with students who lack a basic foundation. I'm not sure if OP is ahead of their peers or not. After all they claim the bad questions didn't bother them. As a student, bad questions in class really bothered me.
    – user29390
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 13:19
  • 1
    @Roland I don't deny that the instructor is part of the problem, but student behavior seems to be a significant part of the issue, and this answer focuses only on the instructor.
    – user45590
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 13:39
  • Actually the instructors background is sales though he's training a technical position. Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 18:36

Ask your question like you would ask it on Stack Overflow. Demonstrate all your research. Don't just say you googled it. Give the specific search phrase and explain what result you got and why it doesn't help you / why you don't understand it. Also, try other documentation before asking. Your teacher seems to suffer from a syndrome many experienced answerers on SO get, fatigue due to bad questions. There is not much you can do other than ask good questions or complain to his boss. The former might yield better results than the latter.

  • 3
    Yep I'm exactly the same with people asking me stuff. I atleast expect them to have tried to find out by themselves before bothering me.
    – Snowlockk
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 8:49

TL;DR: Address the issue to a responsible, with the i don't feel the training is helping me approach. Focus on you, and not on the instructor when telling your concern.

It is easy: The instructor is the problem (perhaps a weak-minded one who cannot cope appropriately with bad trainees who ask dumb/OT questions without losing their mind). Not you. Keep that in mind all the time.

That one is your workplace, and not a SO page. This is a huge contrast of interests between the two environments:

  • You don't work in StackOverflow (unless your trainee position is in StackOverflow! XDDDD just kidding). You don't bring your manpower to the company. You just ask a question, or perhaps contribute with answers. This means: StackOverflow did not contract you to be a member in one or more sites. In contrast, that company did, and is among their interests to have a fully-as-required trained employee. Otherwise, they would no train at all, but just require such skills on you and require you to pass an exam.
  • Members in StackOverflow do not have any obligation regarding to you. This means: in this site nobody is even forced to justify a downvote on my question or answer, or tell how to improve content, or even just answer your question.

This means: StackOverflow does not have an expectation regarding you in particular, and StackOverflow will not deal with any expectation you have regarding the site. OTOH you're in your workplace, and it is reasonable that they have an expectation regarding you (otherwise they would not hire you and -even worse- train you) and you regarding them (you'd like a stable job which you understand and which is not a nutcracking one).

Now, to the actual matter:

  • It is THEIR duty to train you, teach you, guide you.
  • It is THEIR duty to have an up-to-date knowledge base, or at least ensure the actual responsible updates the kb appropriately.
  • It is your duty to yougle/google the answer, but it is THEIR duty to answer each question, no matter how bad is it. They are paid for the charge. You will also have a bad day in your charge somewhere in your lifecycle there, but it is expected you overcome it. This applies for any employee. Even instructors.
  • It is your duty to learn, and as the company decided it, it is THEIR duty to ensure you are given the appropriate resources to help you in the process. Otherwise it is not a training, but just an exam.
  • If they have a personal issue on you (who knows? "a matter of skin" we say here, when an issue has no apparent reason), it is THEIR duty to call you and report what is going on.
  • We're all humans and are not perfect. We all have eventually bad days. We all have to find a balance or commitment between being tolerant and requiring the actual duty being executed.

You said your instructor has a background in sales. This is a bad move of your company, although it usually happens regarding ERP technology. My advice -which came from the experience! although not as hard as yours- is:

  • Forgive but don't forget. Be patient for one day or session. Perhaps was just a moment and will be willing to help you the next session.
  • Have a talk with them. Not in terms of the bad instructor who lets you on your own, but in term of your role as a trainee and your concern because the training process is not bringing you the expected help and knowledge. The worse answer they could bring you is a threat or an "is this how I am"-like answer.
  • Have a talk with your immediate (perhaps potential) supervisor and talk regarding the issue with the training process, and perhaps a concern regarding the possibility of being useless and perhaps disposed from the company. The matter regarding the instructor will arise eventually.

If the issue is not addressed, have for sure the company has low actual interest on training you.

  • They are paid for the charge. They might be paid to spend 3 hours to give a 1-hour course. With preparation, this might leave them half an hour extra, which is not enough to yougle everyone's questions for them. And then they have an overfull workday to still get through.
    – skymningen
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 9:08

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