While editing a post, I realized a sentence's unclear meaning made completing the edit unconscionable. I might change the meaning.

Likely such is not at all uncommon here on ELL. I'm not asking for a feature, just wondering if there's a better way to deal with this, other than laborious commenting back and forth of do you mean this or that?

If it matters, here's the offending :-P sentence:

Is it a rule or a noun form of a verb like "detection" is also can be used? is there any difference? 1)

I dare you to parse that without a bottle of Excedrin Extra Strength at hand!

[edit] Note however that the overall question is fairly clear from the context. That sentence could be eliminated entirely, perhaps. Then again, I'm unclear if doing so would have changed the author's intent. I suspect others may have let it stand too.

See also comments in visibility-of-the-edit-link

  • I parsed it without Excedrin. What's my prize?
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 31, 2016 at 11:09
  • @DEAD ahh, perhaps, but you didn't actually edit it ... chicken! No prize until it's formal, pal ... ;-P Sep 1, 2016 at 0:40

1 Answer 1


Flag questions to be closed as unclear (or sometimes Details Please) if you really can't tell which of numerous possibilities the asker means. Try clarifying things in comments where you're able, but the default close message does give them the right idea, that they need to edit the question so it can be answered. And if they can't (or won't) edit it, then closing it keeps the site clean, reduces wasted effort, and prevents unhelpful questions and answers lying around giving a false impression.

On the other hand, if there's really only two or three possibilities (it doesn't sound like that here), then closing it isn't necessary; answers can be expected to cover all the possibilities, and teaching the difference between them is very helpful.

  • Interesting. Although I should have mentioned it, I discounted bubbling it up, flagged, for others to deal with as I prefer to help out. Yet, indeed, in this instance, I'm not sure anyone could decipher it. Aug 31, 2016 at 1:42

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