Kill it with fire!
The General Reference closure has caused nothing but contention here, and its current implementation has accomplished far more harm than good.
I recently asked about whether google is a valid resource for determining if a question is General Reference. Despite 19 votes between 3 answers (one now deleted), there is, as of now, no clear consensus.
I think the whole concept is rather poorly suited to our platform. It makes a lot more sense on EL&U, SO, and other sites where there are authoritative, widely recognized resources such as dictionaries and reference manuals that are obvious reference materials.
Several months ago, a meta discussion asking why we had the closure reason obtained 3 different answers, all evenly voted, saying, respectively, that:
- We should get rid of it
- We should keep it but heavily restrict its usage
- It is useful but not necessary
The rationale given for we should keep it but heavily restrict its usage is that it prevents our site from being inundated by trivial, boring questions.
I don't agree that this is a danger, nor do I agree that GR, as it is currently implemented, is a valid tool to accomplish that task.
I believe (there's some ongoing discussion on the topic) that currently, only two sites are (generally) agreed upon as being an indication of possible General Reference: wikipedia.org and imdb.com.
To date, I don't recall seeing any question closed as GR due to an IMDB.com reference (although I may have missed some).
I also don't recall seeing many questions that were closed as GR due to a wikipedia.org reference that didn't include some form of debate or controversy. Usually involving established, active members of the community on both (or all three!) sides of the debate.
I certainly haven't noticed a huge flood of trivial, boring questions that would otherwise inundate our site if we didn't keep closing them as GR. How many General Reference closures have there been? How many have been reopened?
Most importantly, the system already has a tool in place that will be just as effective (imo) as closure for trivial, boring questions: downvotes.
Why is it not sufficient to say "if a question is trivial, boring, and demonstrates little to no research, downvote it"? Note that the hover-text for downvoting states quite clearly that a question or answer should be downvoted when it "does not show any research effort" or "it is unclear or not useful"!
For truly useless questions, most of them will likely fall into other closure categories (Gilles has mentioned on a couple of occasions that "too localized" in particular can usually cover some of the most egregious examples of "General Reference" questions.
Since we can't come up with a clear, consistent definition of what qualifies as "general reference", and since there are already other tools in our arsenal to deal with the low quality questions it was intended to address, I say we get rid of it altogether. The pay-off for having it just isn't worth the strife, contention, and confusion it has engendered.
Edit: Sometimes coincidence can be quite amazing.
We just got this question from a new user that seems pretty legitimate. However, I was able to find the Wikipedia page for the series with a simple Google query. In fact, it seems to fit exactly the general criteria for General Reference as it currently stands.
Yet it seems our new user is not the only person to struggle to find this title. I'd say that this is a valid argument against the idea of General Reference closure as currently defined.