Quite often, both here and in ELU, questions of interpretation lack sufficient context to provide an answer. Should the How-to-Ask page be updated to point out that when asking about interpretation of a word or phrase, context is important, and that such questions should include enough context information to make it clear to native speakers what the usage in question is?

  • This is just as applicable to ELU, in my opinion, but I think it's ultimately more important that learners be encouraged to provide context, since they may be unclear as to what the phrase really is in the text. Jun 28, 2019 at 17:45
  • We started the Contributor’s Guide so that we could have a community maintained guide with advice specific to ELL. If someone has specific wording they would like to see in the How to Ask page, I think an answer to this question that we can vote on and tweak would be helpful. That isn’t one of the pages that the site moderators can edit, so we will need to get the SE team involved once we’ve agreed what we want to change it to (if at all)
    – ColleenV
    Jun 28, 2019 at 17:54
  • The "How to Ask" page is generic, boilerplate language all across every site on the Stack Exchange. (For example, the How-to-Ask pages for Chemistry, Software Engineering, Cooking and Sci Fi & Fantasy are identical to ours, save for the headers, colors, and fonts.) The message is consistent, but I agree that the resulting information is maybe not as helpful as it could be.
    – J.R. Mod
    Jun 28, 2019 at 18:48
  • While I can see the need for the boilerplate level of "How to Ask", and I accept ColleenV's statement that site mods can't edit it, I don't really consider it adequate on any side; there needs to be an option for site mods to add site-specific instructions - or at the very least, a link to something like the Contributor's Guide that ColleenV mentioned - to "fine tune" the description of a Good Question for each site (what's needed for a good question here, after all, may be useless - or even harmful - on some other Stack that's not related to the study of English). Jun 28, 2019 at 19:00
  • Following on the above comments, I've posted a relevant feature-request on Meta. Jun 28, 2019 at 19:29
  • That might be a dupe of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/280428/… I think we can get our page customized if we have specific text we want that has support from the community, we just have to ask.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 28, 2019 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


This is (as I understand it) the process for changing content in the Help Center that site mods are unable to edit :

  1. Anyone can suggest a change to the help center on meta.
  2. The community considers the request and hones it.
  3. Moderators (or really anyone who knows how to contact us) asks a CM to look at the proposed change.
  4. Community managers evaluate the change and push it as appropriate.

So, we need to have a post that explains how we would like to change the page. Once we have that, we can feature it to get community feedback on the proposal.

  • OK, I'll think about wording for "How to ensure you have adequate context", and post it as a separate question/suggestion here (and probably similarly in ELU - you're a moderator there, too, aren't you?). Jun 28, 2019 at 20:12
  • @JeffZeitlin I am not. You can figure out who is a moderator from the “Users” section of a site. There’s a moderators tab.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 28, 2019 at 20:14
  • @JeffZeitlin ELU has gone through this process recently though... maybe search their meta first.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 28, 2019 at 20:15
  • Noted, and I will certainly do so! Jun 28, 2019 at 20:16
  • @JeffZeitlin I think I was remembering the wording for SWR rules here: english.meta.stackexchange.com/q/11865/80039
    – ColleenV
    Jun 28, 2019 at 20:17

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