This recent question was put on-hold by a moderator. The reason we (our site) gave to the OP is:

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

"This question should include more details than have been provided here. Please edit to add the research you have done in your efforts to answer the question, or provide more context. See: Details, Please."

Here is the question:

What is the difference between revenge and avenge? [on hold]
Please explain me. I tried the dictionaries but they do not help.

The OP states clearly that they've tried dictionaries, but the dictionaries can't help. (Hence, the OP posted the question here.)

Maulik V posted this comment:

At times, little beyond dictionaries help. In fact, simply typing the same question on Google gives great answer like this‌​, this and this! – Maulik V♦ 33 mins ago

Much as I agree with Maulik, that it's not that hard to find a similar (or even identical) question on the web, I can't help but wonder if we should forbid the OP to ask such a question, or what more research we should require of the OP. Isn't it true that almost all questions here can be found elsewhere on the web as well, most with just a quick search? (Quality of the answers on the web may vary, though.)

So, I'd like to hear our opinions about this (off-topic) line we draw on our site. How much or how little research (in general, not only the question mentioned above) does an OP have to show us before we consider it on-topic or off-topic?

  • 4
    Ayup. In fact, I voted to reopen that question just before I saw this post. It involves fairly tricky distinctions even a native speaker may not be able to pin down easily. Jan 22, 2016 at 12:52

3 Answers 3


Personally, I wish O.P.s would go beyond tidbits like, "I tried Googling, but that didn't help," or, "I tried the dictionaries, but couldn't find an answer."

I'm always curious: Which dictionaries? What did you type into Google?

It's not our job to do the legwork for the O.P. Most of the time, if an O.P. wants to avoid close votes and attract upvotes, it's a simple matter of adding just a little bit more information about research that was already done. For example, if an O.P. says:

When I checked on Wiktionary, I found these two meanings...


When I Googled it, I found this website, but that just confused me more, because...

then the community will be more accepting of the question, and more eager to provide an answer.

I understand that not every newcomer will arrive ready to furnish this information. But I think the best way for a user to get more acceptance (and better answers) is to include a few more details other than the annoyingly vague, "I looked somewhere but couldn't find an answer."

  • 3
    I wish I could up-vote again for the addition of "annoyingly vague". The only thing more irritating to me in these sorts of things is the "I looked it up and ignored all of the most common definitions and settled on willfully misreading this one definition near the bottom labeled archaic.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 25, 2016 at 17:42
  • Yes. I sympathize that someone has put in effort and still is confused, but knowing that doesn't make me helpful. It just makes me frustrated, because I can't help until they tell me more. Don't make people guess! Plus, this is a site for language learners, so the work put into expressing the details of your question is more English immersion. Win-win.
    – Dan Getz
    Feb 13, 2016 at 16:59

If I go look at the dictionary definitions and they're very similar, I don't expect the asker to list the definitions or explain much about why they are confused.

However, I think this particular example attracts close votes because it's really low effort. The question is in the title and the body doesn't have any real information. Also, if you look up "avenge" in the Oxford learner's dictionary, it talks about the difference between avenge/revenge in the "Grammar Points" section.


If you look in other learner's dictionaries, they consistently define avenge as a verb and revenge as a noun. The question could be a good question, but it needs work in my opinion.

  • 1
    I think the difference that one is usually a noun is obvious to the OP. The real difference that the OP seems to want to know, IMHO, is how to use them as a verb and how they are different, what connotations they have, and such. (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary does not address this.) I agree that the wordings need work (let's not forget that our questions are from learners of all levels), but the intent is clear, I believe. Jan 22, 2016 at 14:05
  • 5
    @DamkerngT. If what the OP really wants to know isn't apparent, the question should be closed so it can be edited. Otherwise we will get a bunch of answers guessing about what the OP really wants to know and they could end up very confused. It's great that you believe you know what they're after, but the folks that closed it came to a different conclusion. I think that you are doing learners a disservice by not expecting them to at least try to explain their question. I won't pick on them if they don't choose exactly the right words, but they should try.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:33

My answer is specifically about questions like "difference between gator and alligator" or "avenge vs revenge," and so on, which includes no information as to what exactly is troubling the OP. Questions which includes no context and so the reason to close: This question should include more details than have been provided here. Please edit to add the research you have done in your efforts to answer the question, or provide more context.

I agree with MaulikV! There are some sites that can answer some questions asked here by merely googling. I don't raise a question on the quality of the answers posted here and there (we [ELL] are not the only fish swimming in the sea). Not a bit! However, this is a site for ELL(earners), so I welcome questions asking about difference between some words which the dictionaries aren't able to answer clearly depending on the case:

  • If a question is asked that can be easily answered from a site on the web by googling, we should close it. The OP does always have the option to include more details if the site is not able to clear up the problem.

  • But if a question is asked and the OP is still confused and/or the sites are not able to clear up the fog, then we should let it remain open or should not close it in the first place.

The judgement to close the question was sound enough—definitely in my opinion.

Take the case of the recently closed question about revenge vs avenge. A user comes here asking a question about the difference. But the OP clearly didn't do any research, or if he did, he didn't include what's confusing him/her that so many sites couldn't clear. The answer to the problem can be found on google by merely typing revenge vs avenge.


and here is an excerpt from the very first link(diffen.com):

Avenge and revenge both imply to inflict pain or harm in return for pain or harm inflicted on oneself or those persons or causes to which one feels loyalty. The two words were formerly interchangeable, but have been differentiated until they now convey widely diverse ideas. Avenge is now restricted to inflicting punishment as an act of retributive justice or as a vindication of propriety: to avenge a murder by bringing the criminal to trial. Revenge implies inflicting pain or harm to retaliate for real or fancied wrongs; a reflexive pronoun is often used with this verb: Iago wished to revenge himself upon Othello.

Now, if the OP did some research first, s/he could have saved her/his time. But that's not our concern, is it?

  • 1
    I guess, for example, you would recommend that we should close a question such as “Neither Mary nor John eat (eats?) beef” - singular or plural after 'neither .. nor'?, along with other questions with about the same level of research, as well, perhaps? -- (Thanks for a good link on avenge vs. revenge!) Jan 22, 2016 at 13:35
  • 2
    No, no, I am only talking about questions like "Avenge vs revenge" or "cold vs hot." we should close questions which can be easily answered by googling. I mean, if the OP, in the question you provided, only asked for difference between "eat and eats," then and only then I would vote to close the question with the same reason of providing more details.
    – Usernew
    Jan 22, 2016 at 13:40
  • Hmm... I don't see why the 'avenge' question is different from the 'neither' question, and frankly, the OP in the 'avenge' question said that they've tried dictionaries, while I see nothing in the 'neither' one. Jan 22, 2016 at 13:55
  • But I asked about the 'neither' one in my first comment under this answer. Jan 22, 2016 at 13:58
  • Sorry, I don't follow you. Can you please clear what you asked? The question you provided was asking about the verb form to use when using neither/nor. :( I won't close a question like that :) @DamkerngT.
    – Usernew
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:02
  • I mean, if we compare the amount of the research done by the OPs of the two questions, and how easy it is to find similar questions/answers on the web, I don't see any difference between the two questions, and in fact, the 'avenge' question is better on the research side, and yet we close the 'avenge' one, but not 'neither' one. Jan 22, 2016 at 14:08
  • 3
    It's is OK, and possibly even encouraged, to ask questions here even though the answer can be found elsewhere on the 'Net by searching. meta.ell.stackexchange.com/q/65/9161 "You should remove "This is Googleable" from your vocabulary. More often than not, it is a mischaracterization of the issue. The "general reference" close reason from English SE was supposed to be a way to avoid simply re-creating resources like dictionaries and thesauruses on this site ... It was never designed as a way to close down questions because answers can be found elsewhere on the Internet."
    – ColleenV
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:12
  • 1
    @ColleenV I am in no way saying a user should not ask a question because it can be found on the internet. But there is not point in asking a question which can be answered by googling. If the OP is still confused, s/he is mostly welcome to ask questions here. This is the same reason why we close questions as duplicates! ELL is a part of the internet, isn't it?
    – Usernew
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:22
  • @DamkerngT. Yes! Both of the questions lack research, but, again, the question you provided in your comment includes the context.
    – Usernew
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:23
  • 1
    Thanks for the feedback! Now I understand where you draw the line. (Not that I agree or disagree with your line. I want to hear from everyone.) Jan 22, 2016 at 14:28
  • If you read through the meta discussion I linked, there IS absolutely a point to asking a question that can be answered by googling. There is no point however to me recreating that thread here in comments. In a nutshell, just because the information exists elsewhere doesn't mean that it can't benefit from being organized here. Closing duplicates on this site is a way of organizing the information.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:29
  • @ColleenV If that's the case, then why do we close questions which can be answered using a dictionary? We don't suppose to have each and every dictionary, do we? One dictionary shows 2 meaning of a word while the other shows 5. So shouldn't we stop closing those questions too? If you think between my answer and the meta post, you will see that you are just contradicting yourself. :)
    – Usernew
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:32
  • Is it irony that the questions you're asking have already been answered in that thread, when you're arguing for closing questions because folks could find the answers by looking around a little?
    – ColleenV
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:35
  • 2
    @ColleenV You don't get the big picture, do you? The reason to close those type of questions is whether it includes context or not. The reason was This question should include more details than have been provided here. Please edit to add the research you have done in your efforts to answer the question, or provide more context. The reason is not this should be closed because this has been answered here, and here, and here.
    – Usernew
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:43
  • 1
    I think I have updated my answer. Yes, Yes, but my answer is only limited to questions like "avenge vs revenge" and you yourself said. "However, I think this particular example attracts close votes because it's really low effort." @ColleenV
    – Usernew
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .