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Two out of four questions I asked previously on this site have been closed: one pertaining to the order of words in a particular context; the other about the meaning of the expression 'chorus line' — a piece of info not available in the dictionnaries I looked up in the first place.

I am amazed, because several users took the pains to answer both of them and vote me up while I was grateful for what I considered valuable help.

This forum sports a vote-down mechanism as well as a vote-up one and I see no reason why users should be deprived of the right to decide for themselves and subdued to arbitrary or over-subtle arguments by allmighty 'bosses'.

I am now in an utterly absurd stance: while gaining credit from users, I am being discredited by some overpowered oligarchs and, to add insult to injury, I am being menaced: upon posting a new question this morning I was warned (?) in colour red that I might me barred from the forum should I ever dare ask more irrelevant questions of the kind.

Understandably I am not a native English-speaker. If the high-ups here think this forum a place reserved for English native-speaking PhDs in linguistics, let them advise it clearly on the home page: I will split and quite naturally let the Internet World know this is not the right place for the benighted to show up.

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Two out of four questions I asked previously on this site have been closed: one pertaining to the order of words in a particular context; the other about the meaning of the expression 'chorus line'

Actually, four of the seven questions you have asked have been closed. More on that later.

...the other about the meaning of the expression 'chorus line' — a piece of info not available in the dictionnaries [sic] I looked up in the first place.

By reading the question, there is no way to know that you looked up the word in a dictionary – that was a key reason for the closure of that question.

I am amazed, because several users took the pains to answer both of them and vote me up while I was grateful for what I considered valuable help.

You have one upvote on the chorus line and one answer; that's hardly an outpouring of support for an excellent question.

This forum sports a vote-down mechanism as well as a vote-up one

That's true; ELL has those mechanisms, as well as every other site on the Stack Exchange.

...and I see no reason why users should be deprived of the right to decide for themselves and subdued to arbitrary or over-subtle arguments by allmighty [sic] 'bosses'.

No, people don't have the right to ask anything they want on a Stack Exchange site. The Stack Exchange is made up of dozens of sites, devoted to topics such as Technology, Language, Theology, Gaming, Science, and Art. Every one of these sites is designed with guidance about what is considered on- or off-topic, and users with sufficient reputation are encouraged to help keep the site free from substandard and off-topic questions by using mechanisms such as downvoting, close voting, and commenting.

It's also worth noting that the site puts closed questions in an "On Hold" status, designed to give the original poster a chance to revise the question, so that it can meet community standards and be subsequently reopened. As of this writing, you've had nearly a month to improve your question, yet it remains unedited and unimproved.

I am now in an utterly absurd stance: while gaining credit from users, I am being discredited by some overpowered oligarchs and, to add insult to injury, I am being menaced: upon posting a new question this morning I was warned (?) in colour red that I might me barred from the forum should I ever dare ask more irrelevant questions of the kind.

Unnecessarily colorful language aside, I believe the "menacing" you allude to was an auto-generated warning. I'm not sure about the algorithm that gets used, but, however it works, it was designed to exhort you to increase the quality of your questions. (Evidently, four closed questions out of a mere seven asked is enough to get the attention of the software.)

If you want to learn more about how all this works, I suggest reading through the following questions and answers on Meta Stack Overflow.

(I especially recommend reading Jack Maney's answer on that last one; it has a lot of interesting information and discussion.)

Understandably I am not a native English-speaker. If the high-ups here think this forum a place reserved for English native-speaking PhDs in linguistics, let them advise it clearly on the home page: I will split and quite naturally let the Internet World know this is not the right place for the benighted to show up.

I'll say it again: chill out. Asking a user to show us what they found in the dictionary when asking a "what does this mean?" question hardly amounts to requiring a PhD in linguistics.

You should try interpreting the feedback you receive as the helpful advice it is intended to be, rather than as the personal slights you've perceived them to be. The sooner you learn to do that, the quicker you will see ELL as the welcoming and helpful place that it is.

Good answers take time to write, and there's little value wasting other people's time simply because you don't want to take the time to learn the proper way to ask a question.

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Calm down.

The Stack Exchange model has been in place for years. It allows five users with sufficient reputation to close a question that is deemed off-topic (and five more to reopen it, in case the first five voted too hastily).

I don't think your chorus line question was unfairly closed. In the question, there is no indication that you even cracked open a dictionary. (There is some reference to looking at one dictionary buried in the comments, but that prior research probably should have been put in the question in the first place.) As has been posted in the Details, please meta question, users are expected to show their research:

Confused about a word? Paste a dictionary definition, so everyone knows you've already looked the word up. Including a definition serves a couple different purposes: (a) it shows you've put forth a good-faith effort to answer your own question, and (b) it saves time for people answering your question, because they don't have to spend time writing things that you already know while they are composing their answers.

Also, one of the answers to that question reads:

Our FAQ clearly states that questions need to be specific, relevant, on-topic and show what research the OP has done. Doing so on ELL is not optional, and that questions that fail to do so should be closed. Once the OP improves their question the question can then later be reopened. (emphasis added)

So, rather the railing against the "allmighty 'bosses'," put some effort into improving your question. Click the edit button, add what you found when you did your research, and I'm sure that, with the attention your question is likely to receive from this meta post, it will be reopened in a matter of hours.

P.S. As an aside, I would characterize the Stack Exchange as a meritocracy, not an oligarchy.

  • Your strategy: pick one minor point and make it paramount; leave major points unaccounted for; support arguments with quotations right out of the by-rules that are being challenged. You are actually displaying those very qualities that might prop you up to the heights. But my objections still have to be opposed credibly —ALL OF THEM. – Brice C. Sep 1 '14 at 15:52
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    @BriceC - I'm having trouble figuring out your objections, because your post reads like a rant, not like a series of rational objections. Nevertheless, at your bidding, I have tried a second time to answer your concerns. – J.R. Sep 1 '14 at 19:14
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I'm not going to answer your question bit by bit, but let me try to explain it from my point of view.

At the moment, I probably spend less than fifteen minutes, on average, on ELL daily. Maybe. In that time, I can write about one good answer, and clear the pending review queue - if I see something in there that I can answer, I'll do it, otherwise, I'll find something else to do.

There's nothing that wastes my time more than a question that has little to no effort put in it, and essentially asks ELL users to be glorified dictionaries. When someone asks a question without putting effort into it, it's asking numerous other people - usually strangers - to spend their time doing the work for them.

Proofreading is off-topic here, as noted on your question - I don't mind doing it, but I'll have to direct you to my rate card.

I don't close questions lightly - over a quarter of my close review tasks are to leave the question open. I'm not sure whether this is particularly high, but my main point is that I, like most reviewers on ELL, make a considered decision before voting to close. I do it because I don't reward people who don't make an effort, and because I don't want others to spend their time on it either - I'd prefer that they answer quality questions that askers have put time and effort into answering, or, at the very least, one where they didn't look a word up in a dictionary, throw their hands up and give up straight away.

Also, as J.R. notes, the StackExchange software that powers the site is designed to reward users who put in valuable contributions, and those who don't generally see warning messages prior to a complete block.


In short: put a modicum of effort into your questions. Fail to do so, and things are likely to continue to be unpleasant.

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    I love paragraph 3; I wish I could upvote separately just for that part of your answer alone. – J.R. Sep 3 '14 at 8:03

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