Referring to Unable to understand a spoken word

This was mod-closed without voting. The closure reason was "off-topic" with an explanation from the mod that "the mystery phrase has been correctly interpreted in the first helpful comment." This is not one of the criteria for closure.

The comment contained a partial answer to the question. This was a genuine question but the hold prevents genuine answers.

See Questions with no answers but are answered in comments

If you see a question (a good question, which the example might not be) that has been fully answered in the comments, then it needs to be answered for real with an actual answer. This way the question no longer appears to have no answer from the Questions page, people can vote on the answer, and the answer can be accepted.

Mods should use their ability to close with voting to close questions that are very clearly off-topic, or clearly too broad, or opinion based. They should not close because the question has been answered in comments, or is too easy or the answer is too short. Closure should not be used as super-downvote.

  • 1
    Related: ell.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3371/230 (Where I can ask what is said in a short part of a video?)
    – user230
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 21:49
  • Note: The "off-topic" closure reason was auto-generated text from Stack Exchange.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 22:19

2 Answers 2


First of all, let's look at the original comment:

I'm voting to close this question because it's been satisfactorily answered in the comments.

I absolutely 100% agree with you that this is not a reason to close a question. I think Stack Exchange works best when we have answers in answers, not comments.

However, I do think this question should be closed. Why? As I said in my comment:

Here on SE, we're trying to build a library of knowledge, a set of questions that will be useful to future users coming in from Google searches and elsewhere. Although this isn't a bad question, it's unlikely to be useful to future users, and that's the real reason we should close questions like this as off-topic. And for the same reason, it's actually okay if they get the help they need in the comments section, because we don't really want to keep it around forever as a full Q&A for our site.

Closing a question does a few things:

  1. It prevents new answers from being posted.
  2. It allows the question, with no answers, to be automatically removed in the future.
  3. It discourages similar questions from being asked in the future.

When a question isn't likely to be useful to future users, we don't want to keep it around forever as part of our library of knowledge. That doesn't mean we don't want to help people, but we don't want actual answer posts, because those prevent the post from being automatically removed down the road.

So although answering in the comments is usually bad for the site, in cases like this it actually makes sense. The comment helps the user, but it doesn't keep the question around forever.

When people ask transcription questions like these, I like to remind everyone that we do have an official English Language Learners chat room, and questions like these are welcomed there. If anyone needs help with a transcription, please feel free to pop into chat and post your link along with what you've got so far, and we'll do our best to help.

  • 2
    While closing a question indeed does the three things you say, it's worth noting that a moderator's unilateral close vote doesn't close the question. Instead, the question is put on hold, allowing the user ample opportunity to improve the question.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 22:42
  • Maybe if I watched the video, I'd understand the joke but just from reading the punchline Well, you certainly wouldn't let her touch my golf clubs." And he said, "No. No, she, uh, she's left-handed." I'm completely in the dark.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:05
  • @Mari-LouA Usually the joke is a conversation about what a husband would do if the wife died before he did - would he remarry? Would he let the new wife use her golf clubs? When the reply is about a specific woman (No, I wouldn't let her use them because she's left handed) it implies that he has a mistress that he will marry after the wife is gone.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:53
  • @ColleenV I ended up watching the clip, you explained it well but I still didn't get it until I knew the premise. It's the wife who asks her husband if he would remarry after her death. I've not heard this joke before, is it an oldie? A joke that Rodney Dangerfield would tell? (Not my favourite comedian)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 22:05
  • @Mari-LouA Yes this is an "oldie" but it's not my cup of tea. Maybe my lack of enthusiasm for this sort of humor caused my explanation to fall a bit flat :)
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 1:50

At the time the question was asked, the main gist of the question seemed to be asking, "What does this person say just before the punchline?" (not, "Is golf clubs an Americanism?")

As it currently stands, the question essentially asks:

Is this spoken word which is unknown to me and I cannot recognize perhaps an Americanism?

Two moderators have weighed in, saying that this question could be reopened if the OP would remove the part about "What does the woman say just before the punch line?" and instead ask about something that is clearly on-topic, now that the mysterious words have been deciphered.

As for your assertion that "Closure should not be used as super-downvote," downvotes and close votes are not the same thing. One question might be downvoted without being close-voted, while another question might be close-voted without being downvoted. Moreover, all Stack Exchanges recognize that the standard list of close vote reasons is not exhaustive and all-encompassing, which is why every close voter has one additional option presented:

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I agree that my initial reason (which is quoted in snail's answer here) was hastily typed and could have stood some improvement. However, that doesn't mean I was using my moderator ability to put a question on hold as a "super-downvote".

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