This question How should I ask a polite question to my manager? is considered on-topic and was answered. It asks "Do you think there is a better way to say that?" There is no reference to any specific problem or issue that the OP wishes to understand. As it is, I would say it is a proofreading question or at least too localized.

However, this question Please check grammar in short message for me! , while not written in the best manner and could use a better title, but it at least asks "Please check some mistakes in the grammar for me." As discussed before, language learners will have varying skill levels and this should be taken into consideration.
Already, this question was closed in 4 hours.

I think the OP has valid concerns regarding the grammar used, but may not know what they are or how to correct them. At least to point them out in general, then let the OP ask follow-up questions, would be OK.

Anyway I would appreciate it if someone could explain to me why one was OK but not the other.

1 Answer 1


The first question, How should I ask, seems to me adequately focused by its title: OP is asking whether the register of the passage offered is appropriate to the situation. This is not to say that it is a first-rate question; but we know what we are being asked and what sort of answer is sought.

The second question, Please check grammar, illustrates why proofreading questions must be Off Topic: in the very short (56 words) passage OP submits I count at least 11 distinct errors of grammar and idiom—and that ignores matters of style and register, and the interactions between the errors. Addressing any one of them would require at least an ordinary Answer (say, a couple hundred words)—for a mere rewrite is of no value to anyone except OP. The error must be identified, a reasonably full account of why it is an error must be provided, suggestions as to how it might be remedied should be offered. And an ideal Answer would also invoke a larger context which could make the topic generalizable to future problems and of interest to future readers. Is it reasonable to ask our users to compose 2,000+ word essays? Would anybody read a 2,000 word essay?

  • The first question asks for, and the answers give an interpretation of what the OP was trying to say. Its more of a rewrite, and does not address what grammar or usage is in question. At least I think its too localized. Regarding the second question, when I wrote above "At least to point them out in general, then let the OP ask follow up questions, would be OK." meant not attempting to explain all the errors, maybe just point the main ones out as a summary. Its optional if the OP then asks a more detailed question.
    – user485
    Apr 14, 2013 at 4:02
  • Also, whether the passage has errors or not should not be a major criteria since the OP skill level will vary. Checking now, I see jwpat7 has left a good comment on that post, that gives a good direction forward. Again, I think this question was closed too hastily.
    – user485
    Apr 14, 2013 at 4:03
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    @user3169 There are questions which are not on-topic for this site. Proofreading is one of them. The first question is narrow enough in scope to be acceptable; it asks if the specific statement is acceptable for the situation. If you wanted to make the argument that the first question should be closed, then there is definitely a borderline there and I could understand that. But the second question is without a doubt off-topic. If you want to make a meta post asking that proofreading questions be permitted you're more than welcome, but I don't think the feedback will fall in your favor.
    – WendiKidd
    Apr 15, 2013 at 16:20
  • @WendiKidd No, proofreading quesions should not be allowed. I am rather speaking about the intent behind these two questions, as I read it.
    – user485
    Apr 15, 2013 at 18:37

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