I was told a few times that the questions shouldn't be asked here. 'Is this correct' questions seem strictly forbidden, and someone implied that people should ask questions that can benefit other (many) learners (which means the question better can be searched and found by others).

I would like to ask is the purpose of ELL helping English learners or building a reference? I understand that proofreading a paragraph is not welcomed, but what about sentence construction type of questions?

Isn't asking whether this sentence is correct (and stating where I think it might be wrong/why I'm not sure) an acceptable question? Every language learner experiences this, I wrote something, but I don't know whether it is correct; I want to say this, but I'm not sure this expresses my meaning.

I would like to raise the issue that not all questions are easy questions and can be searched by other learners. So are we, or perhaps I should say are you, interested in helping one or a few learners, or our aim here is to build a reference?

To be honest, I have to always think again and again whether my questions is off-topic before I post it, and I still get responses saying it is. I hope I am the only one who feels it has become a burden. I hope everyone can enjoy learning English.

To finish this post, I would like to say that I hope we have a simple set of rules we can follow and refer to.

After I wrote and posted this I found a related post that was posted 2 years ago.

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    Hi Emma. I understand your frustration, especially because there is some disagreement about whether certain questions are off-topic. It's not a terrible crime to ask an off-topic question. Ideally we put a question on hold so we can help you make it a great question before people start trying to answer it. This helps your question get the up-votes it deserves and helps you get better quality answers. Sometimes questions get closed without anyone offering guidance on how to repair it. It's OK to post here and ask for help making it on-topic when your question has been closed. – ColleenV Oct 5 '16 at 12:36
  • Related discussion: Let's be more careful with closing – ColleenV Oct 5 '16 at 12:44

The purpose of ELL, like every other Stack Exchange site, is to build a reference to help learners.

As an asker, your job is, ideally, to ask questions that help you and others at the same time. This is pretty tricky, though, because it's hard to tell what will actually be useful in the future. So occasionally you'll run into surprises where a question is downvoted or even closed that you didn't think would be problematic.

However, ELL specifically also has a problem with some of its close reasons. I've noticed that a lot of close voters use Proofreading or Details Please wrong, based on a very superficial reading of the question. I do my best to catch those and keep them open or reopen them, but I'm only one voter. So a bit of patience is necessary at times so the more careful voters can catch up with the mistakes.

(There's also a quirk with the category of close reasons. All close reasons beyond the Stack Exchange standard ones, such as Dictionary, Proofreading, and Details Please, are put under Off-Topic, which has caused some confusion, since it sounds like those are somehow being declared as unrelated to learning English. That's not the case. Off-Topic just means "this question can't be answered well in its current state for some reason besides the normal ones". And Details Please in particular would be nice to put under Unclear.)

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    Well said, Nathan, and I plead guilty to sometimes failing to think deeply about questions, and to making "snap" decisions. Thank you for the wake-up call. I'll make it a point to be one of those careful voters, and to remember that the Skip button is my friend. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Oct 8 '16 at 5:01
  • I slightly disagree on "As an asker, your job is, ideally, to ask questions that help you and others at the same time." It is more "As an asker, you have to understand we accept questions that are helpful to future readers too." – kiamlaluno Oct 9 '16 at 17:10
  • @kiamlaluno: Well, "ideally". Meaning, that's what we reward them for with reputation, that's what we're looking for, that's their intended best role in the SE ecosystem. Certainly that's a rather lofty calling and most askers are only going to manage that by accident, but the principle remains that the asker is the role best able to start off the question so that it can be useful to as many as possible. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 9 '16 at 21:01
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    Users who ask question are not supposed to know if the question is helpful for future users as well. Up-voting a question could mean "good question: it shows effort in finding an answer" or "good question: I have always wanted to ask the same"; in both the cases, it doesn't mean "good question: it would help other users." – kiamlaluno Oct 10 '16 at 7:21
  • @kiamlaluno: Then why does the upvote tooltip talk about "useful"ness? Why does How to Ask talk about how "Sharing your research helps everyone." and "We like to help as many people at a time as we can. Make it clear how your question is relevant to more people than just you, and more of us will be interested in your question and willing to look into it."? What else do you think voting on questions is even for? – Nathan Tuggy Oct 10 '16 at 9:48
  • One of my questions got more than 2k views, although that is not a lot compare to many questions, I had no idea it will get that many views when I asked it. I think some people's standard is too high and they mark duplicate for questions that are similar but still different, this makes harder for finders (people google the difference between two phrases etc.). If the standard is so high, people will ask fewer questions and we can miss those good questions. Of course too many very similars questions is not good either. – EmmaXL Oct 10 '16 at 13:27
  • Drawing a line is not easy. Also, I feel sometimes it becomes personal, why is always that person wants my questions closed? – EmmaXL Oct 10 '16 at 13:27
  • @EmmaXL: Yeah; a lot of the tendency to take things personally, I think, comes from the fact that there are a few users that are quite recognizable in their closing actions (myself, for example), because they get involved in a lot of questions. Unfortunately, it's usually difficult to tell when one of those users votes to leave open or reopen a question, unless you're specifically looking for that. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 10 '16 at 22:52
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    @EmmaXL: For what it's worth, though, duplicates are intended to make life easier for searchers, not harder, since instead of having to get the right search terms, they can search for any of the ones that have been duped together and end up in a good place. Sometimes that does backfire, though, when dupes end up being too confusingly connected. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 10 '16 at 22:54

The purpose of Stack Exchange site is building knowledge for future readers. If a question is important for just a single user, or its value is limited in the time, the question is generally closed.

Asking a question about the correctness of a sentence is on-topic, but it is expected the users describe why they think it is wrong, or what exactly they think it could not be correct. So, generally speaking, a question asking Is this correct? is not necessarily a bad question, if it doesn't just quote text and ask about its correctness without even making clear what could be wrong.

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