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As of writing, this question has four votes to close for the community-specific reason that's often referred to as "proofreading". So does this one.

While I haven't been around in a while, I'm surprised to see this being used on a question like this. In general, this close reason, which reads:

Questions asking for someone to find and correct errors or improve the phrasing are considered requests for proofreading and are off-topic. Please edit your question to focus on something in particular that you are unsure about; if that's not possible, see websites for proofreading instead.

The first question is not asking for someone to "find and correct errors" or to "improve the phrasing" - they're asking for help understanding what the correct usage of prepositions in a couple examples is... and they specifically emphasize that they're curious about the use of about - which is seen in the fact the word "about" is in bold and the question title mentions they want to know whether the preposition is needed or not.

The second example is again focused on a specific aspect of a sentence they're working to construct - sentences and are trying to determine whether the prepositional phrases are necessary in the two cases.

If either must be closed (which I would question) I think the Details, please! close reason fits much better and guides the user in how to improve the question because it links to the very helpful FAQ here on meta - Please, everyone ... details. Please! - that said, I'm not convinced these closures makes sense. They seem like bare-bones questions that could use an edit for really understanding the content but I don't think they need to be closed. There's enough info there to be a reasonable question.

Again, I've been gone for a while and I'm not sure what the current expectations are but I'm a bit confused by the usage of close votes here and kinda want to recommend rewriting them to make them either more clearly narrow to the proofreading case or more broad and informative if this sort of closure is actually intended.

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  • 1
    I would not consider Which sentences are correct? a proof-reading question, but (similarly to those questions) it does not say for which reason the OP finds them not correct, or doubts about their correctness. Yes, asking for more details is a better reason for closing that question, IMO.
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 10:57
  • As for closing questions, I am not sure that should always be done after the question is edited. If a question becomes on-topic after its meaning is totally changed, then it could be probably closed before it is edited.
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 11:04
  • 2
    (I can understand why Which sentences are correct? is closed for that reason, though. It is still asking to find any error.)
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 11:06
  • No, I think you misunderstand. "Find any errors" is for cases where the user dumps a blob of text on the site and says, "please review my paragraph and let me know if it's correct or not". Both examples here are very specific of what error they're trying to understand. They're not asking for us to list / fix everything in the example sentences.
    – Catija
    Oct 26, 2023 at 12:06
  • You can't look only at the body of the question!!! The title of the first example specifically says they're interested in the noun clause and preposition.
    – Catija
    Oct 26, 2023 at 12:09
  • 2
    Many users post sentences and ask if these are correct. So it needn't even be a short essay or an entire paragraph, it could be a single sentence. The problem arises when users are convinced that there is only one stumbling block when in actual fact there are several issues at stake. When I see a more serious error than the one proposed by the author I want to help them out but with this SE model you can't, it's answers should be provided for one question at a time (sometimes two Qs if there's a strong connection).
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 26, 2023 at 12:12
  • And anyone who provides a thorough answer that includes all the OP's inaccuracies is breaking the site's policy, and they see their effort deleted because their answer didn't limit itself to the OP's question, it was expanded, it copy-edited the OP's sentence. It morphed into being a proof-reading task.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 26, 2023 at 12:18
  • I'm not quite sure how that interpretation works for the network generally, though - the SE model specifically allows for people to do this. People who ask questions on SO showing code that's insecure frequently get answers telling them about those issues. I understand the concern that fixing everything might lead to problems in the future but I don't understand why the question should be closed just because the asker isn't aware of everything that's wrong, @Mari-LouA ... I would seriously hope that no one is deleting answers that do that... if they did, they'd delete many of my answers, too.
    – Catija
    Oct 26, 2023 at 12:26
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    I am not sure that just showing code on SO without describing what they think is not correct, or what exactly does not work in that code, would be an acceptable question on SO. Even if those questions would be acceptable on SO, that does not mean they should be acceptable on ELL.
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 15:39
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    The closing reason used to close those questions could be the wrong one, but that does not mean those questions are on-topic.
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 15:40
  • 2
    It is the question body that says what the question is. The title cannot be long enough to give all the details about the asked question. For example, a title cannot say why the OP thinks one of the sentence is more correct, it cannot include where the sentence has been read, or the context in which that sentence is used.
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 15:45
  • Truly, the closing reason says: Questions asking for someone to find and correct errors or improve the phrasing are considered requests for proofreading and are off-topic. Please edit your question to focus on something in particular that you are unsure about; if that's not possible, see websites for proofreading instead. To me, are considered means they are not requests for proofreading, but we handle them as they would be. The other sentence makes clear what questions are expected to say.
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:06
  • @apaderno But that's what I'm trying to say. Neither of these questions are "asking someone to FIND and correct errors" or to "improve phrasing". They've literally identified the possible errors in both cases and are asking whether they are errors or not. They're not asking "how could I phrase this that would be better". It simply doesn't fall into the definition of this close reason by any stretch.
    – Catija
    Oct 26, 2023 at 16:24
  • To say which sentences are corrected means to say which ones do not have errors, and usually an answer would also say what the correct sentence would be, if a sentence is not correct. It would be too simplistic to expect an answer to indicate which sentence is correct without saying why or how to correct a wrong sentence. At least, that is not what I would expect from a network of sites that aims to build a "database" of knowledge.
    – apaderno
    Oct 26, 2023 at 17:48

1 Answer 1

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Listing multiple possibilities and asking which ones are correct was (is?) a technique used by certain folks to get around having their proofreading questions closed. In addition to getting the "main" part of their question answered, the helpful community would also correct the rest of the problems in their sentence. Then those questions, if left open, were an attractive template for new askers, because they don't take a lot of effort to ask, and they got very helpful, comprehensive answers relatively quickly because they are easy for almost any native speaker to answer. Users can't edit the question into shape, because in general* they don't know why the asker is having trouble with a particular construction.

I don't know how big a problem this is currently but a couple years ago parts of the community were getting quite frustrated by it. The "Details please..." close reason might be a better fit, but with low-effort questions that ask "Which one is correct?", choosing the proofreading reason is the low-effort response. Is it ideal? Not really, but I can empathize with the folks that are a bit burnt-out by the number of "Which one of all of these grammatically incorrect sentences is correct?" type questions.

This is an example of a well-received "Which one is correct?" question: 'learning the ropes' should be followed by which prepositions? It explains a bit what the asker is thinking and what they tried to do to answer their question before posting. We tried to collect a few examples of how to ask as an answer to Please, everyone ... details. Please! which is why I prefer the close reason that links to it, but I'm fairly sure very few people who have had their question closed read down that far.


* our experienced EFL teachers can make a pretty good guess in some cases...

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