I'm relatively new to ELL (though pretty experienced with the Stack Exchange network - I work here), so I think there are some nuances here that I'm missing. This question has four close votes at time of writing, and I'm not sure why. It's a little terse, but not problematically so. It was answerable and not confusing. Why are there close votes?

  • I'm not the best person to write a complete answer to your question, but an excellent place to start would be an earlier Meta post from J.R. Thinking it over, the question isn't as simple to look up as "what does telephone mean?", nor is it as broad as "what mean run?" I'm not entirely convinced it is on-topic, but I'll wait and see what others in the community think. Feb 27, 2014 at 20:04
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    Jonathan Garber's comment suggests that it's a simple dictionary lookup, which is off-topic here; but he now acknowledges it may not be so simple as that. And your answer addresses what appears to be the underlying question. OP's invitation to delete the question may have influenced voting. Feb 27, 2014 at 20:27
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    Short answer to your question: Off-topic, because basic questions on spelling, meaning or pronunciation are off-topic as they should be answered using a dictionary. (All four close votes listed that as their justification, based on the options available from a preset menu.) Personally, I'm more inclined to take your side; I'm not sure this one is entirely answerable with a dictionary. Once words get into double-digit meaning counts, odd verb tenses, phrasal verbs, and idiomatic usages, I don't think it's fair to say, "Look it up; it's buried in there somewhere."
    – J.R. Mod
    Feb 27, 2014 at 20:55
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    Even if you picked up that you were looking for an idiom, if you looked for "laid into the collar" you'd still be lost in the woods. You'd have to both pick up that "lay into" is an idiom AND previously know that there's a thing called a horse collar used for farming. To my eye, it's definitely the kind of thing you need a human to step you through.
    – hairboat
    Feb 27, 2014 at 21:03
  • In fairness to my close vote, "lay into" is clearly listed as an idiom on the dictionary page I linked. But as you point out, a non-native speaker would have to connect several non-obvious dots. (As far as the horse collar goes, well... I played a certain well-known RTS game frequently during high school, and one of the prominent technologies developed in the course of gameplay was the horse collar. So perhaps I have a skewed view of how understandable that aspect is as well.) On this basis I'll go ahead and retract my close vote. Feb 27, 2014 at 21:30
  • @JonathanGarber that's where I learned about horse collars, too :)
    – hairboat
    Feb 27, 2014 at 21:31
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    @Jonathan - It's nice that you can retract the close vote. :^) That wasn't always the case.
    – J.R. Mod
    Feb 27, 2014 at 21:52
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    I agree with what's being said in the comments here. The question is very short, and if you didn't think about it long enough I can see why a close vote might have been cast. But I agree it should remain open; there are several variables at work. The OP could have explained more about what they did understand, but in this case I don't see that as a reason to close
    – WendiKidd
    Feb 28, 2014 at 23:35


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