What's not clear / POB about the first 2 of these recently closed questions? Q1 is clear enough and Q2 is objective enough (even without my edits) that the reasons for closure have been weakly applied in these cases.

What is the term for an elevator when it is descending?

Something which cannot be experienced

What do you call a lady being proposed to by a man

The third Q was closed simply on the technicality that no sample sentence was provided, which I have rectified. [Does every single SWR really need a sample sentence when the question is clear enough in context, and do you need to close down a clear enough question just for that reason?]

I have also edited the first 2 questions to improve the clarity and specificity, so that the objection of 'not clear' / POB might be removed.

Overall I found the vast majority of recently closed questions do deserve to be closed according to the current definitions of off-topic: therefore I salute the hard-working members for repeatedly casting close-votes in the right place to keep ELU on-topic.

These are the few exceptions that I am nominating for reopening, having cast my reopen vote for each case.

  • 5
    Please read this.
    – tchrist Mod
    Jul 12, 2017 at 22:40
  • 8
    To be honest, all three of these are crap questions. The first is from mindless adherence to the most literal of literalness, as though language is designed. The second is seeking a neologism for pseudo-philosophy. The third is 'the lady being proposed to' or 'soon-to-be-fiancée-or-dasher-of-hopes'.
    – Mitch
    Jul 12, 2017 at 23:04
  • 1
    @Mitch Maybe so. I am not concerned with whether these are good or bad questions, but more with the reasons for closing. But if these questions are bad, there are more bad questions out there: I know not which, but in that case -- in the interests of quality control, as pointed out in the article linked by tchrist -- members here should take the initiative to close even more questions! Jul 13, 2017 at 0:17
  • 1
    @tchrist in the interests of quality control, as pointed out in the article you have kindly linked -- members here should take the initiative to close even more questions. Jul 13, 2017 at 0:23
  • 4
    Why are you asking the community to reopen these three questions if you "suspect" they are low-quality? As for closing more questions, be careful of what you wish for, because you might be the author of one of those very questions that gets closed. You'll have to explain why your SWR or Phrase Request is a high quality question. Is it really on topic for EL&U, is it a question suited for a site of experts, etymologists and linguists? When certain users begin to churn out this phrase, it's going to be hard for you or for anyone else to defend that closed question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 4:51
  • 2
    I am not concerned with whether these are good or bad questions, but more with the reasons for closing. So you edited these questions because the reason for closure was not accurate? Did you edit the questions so the reason why they were closed was no longer pertinent? But then in the comments you agree with tchrist that the site should increase its efforts in closing more questions that do not uphold the site's standards, which is slightly paradoxical considering this contradicts the raison d'etre of this question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 5:02
  • 3
    This is really the wrong battle to choose. I applaud your enthusiastic and welcoming approach to this site, but these are low-quality questions and the détente on SWR's is already crumbling. Jul 13, 2017 at 5:38
  • When a closed question is edited it automatically enters the review queue, where it is reviewed and its "fate" is decided. Presumably, you already cast a vote to reopen the questions, which means only 4 votes are needed for each question. Before posting on meta you could have waited a day or two and seen if the edits were successful in reopening the three closed questions.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 5:48
  • 1
    @Mari-louA I cannot reply at once if you post a series of 5 comments when I am offline. I was reading closed questions and these 3 caught my attention mainly because I had already answered 2 of them. While I couldn't really find fault with the reasons for closing a lot of the other questions, the reasons for these felt odd: not clear / POB / failed to produce a sample sentence? Based on the comments received here, it now seems these reasons were made use of to close 'low quality questions.' We need to be more consistent but remember, 'comments are not for discussion - not even in meta.' Jul 13, 2017 at 7:06
  • 1
    @Mari-lou A I am just bringing to your attention these recently closed Q's where the close reasons have been applied weakly -- if you don't like to reopen, you don't need to cast your reopen vote.On the other hand, if these Q's are bad, there are worse out there; I won't point them out. I refuse to make a judgment on whether these questions that users post are good or bad questions. If there is a good case for applying a close-reason to any Q including mine, even I would not have an objection. However it's not acceptable to make use of a close reason to close what some consider a bad question. Jul 13, 2017 at 7:15
  • @Mari-lou A in short, I have no reason to take to meta to argue for the merits of any individual question: my point is that close-voting of questions at ELU should be either more liberal or much stricter. Jul 13, 2017 at 7:19
  • 2
    Albert Einstein managed to derive General Relativity without a special word for a descending elevator. See Einstein's Experimental Elevator. Let's leave this one closed.
    – ab2
    Jul 13, 2017 at 19:06
  • @ab2 if 'elevator' is a good enough word for A.Einstein it's a good enough word for me! Jul 13, 2017 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you're not arguing that these questions should be reopened because they're quality questions, but rather because they can't be properly pigeonholed into any of the proper close-vote reasons provided.

To quote from your comment:

I am not concerned with whether these are good or bad questions, but more with the reasons for closing.

The reasons for closing a question in certain cases can be subjective, but the guidelines generally come from three places:

  1. The help center's guidelines - these must be interpreted with some level of subjectivity, since no two questions are alike.

  2. Community consensus - Since users often disagree about what questions deserve to be closed, this will never be truly consistent, although I agree with you that we ought to strive for consistency, as I argue in my Meta post here: What widely-accepted standards should be used to determine whether a single-word-request is too broad?

  3. Moderator discretion

The options provided to users when they cast a close vote are made available as a convenience and to allow for a reasonably consensus-based explanation to be given to the user whose question is closed, so that if they wish to, they can improve the quality of the question so that it can be reopened. But nature of off-topicness is inevitably subjective to some degree. Combine with that the massive number of close-worthy questions that appear on the site routinely and end up on review-queues, and it means that these reasons won't always fit just right. That in and of itself isn't a reason to reopen a question. Instead, craft an argument for why the question and its answers provide value to the site.

Also note that the reasons for close-voting have not always been the same; they have been subject to change based on requests in Meta like this. For instance, there used to be a close reason called "General reference," indicating that the question could be easily answered with general reference material and therefore was not suitable for the site. I believe this reason was replaced with "Please show the research you've done."

Perhaps a reasonable request to make on Meta would be asking for the option of closing a question as too narrow.

Consider this hypothetical question.

  • It is not too broad; quite the opposite, it's seeking a very specific term, and certainly doesn't have too many possible answers.

  • It's not primarily opinion-based either.

  • It demonstrates a level of research comparable to many on-topic questions.

  • It's not a duplicate.

  • It's not unclear what the question is asking, in fact, it's very specific about what it is looking for.

  • It is about the English Language.

  • It doesn't belong on another Stack Exchange site, like ELL.

  • It includes information on how it will be used.

  • It is certainly not asking for proofreading.

What is a word for apples and oranges but not avocados or watermelon?

I work for a fruit stand and was wondering what labels to use for my fruit products. I sell apples, oranges, avocados, and watermelon. I keep the apples and oranges in one bin, because they're the most popular. I keep the avocados in a separate bin because they can be bruised, and I keep the watermelon in their own bin as well because they're so large.

I've labeled the latter two bins "avocados" and "watermelons," but I'm unsure what label to put on the bin that contains both apples and oranges. I researched on Google and found a scholarly article that contained this chart:

enter image description here

According to this chart, the common words would be edible fruit. However, I searched in Oxford English Dictionary and found that avocados are also an edible fruit.

How can I express what is only in the first bin with a short label, preferably one word?

An example sentence would be: If you're looking for a ____, take a look at bin one, it has both apples and oranges, but not avocados.

My point here isn't just to be playful, but also to point out that there will be close-worthy questions that don't fit just right into any slot of close-vote reasons. To some extent, users have to use their experience on the site, along with the guidelines and rules applied to the best of their ability. If a question is closed and a reason is provided, and one believes that it should be reopened, there is an expectation that significant changes are made to the question to enhance its quality and ensure that it adheres to the standards of the site.

Having said that, I noticed that a couple of the questions you cited have been reopened, or at least the question What do you call a lady who is proposed to by a man? has been opened as of this writing. So to that extent, you've achieved your goal. However, I thought this point about the nature of close-vote reasons is worth noting since there are numerous questions out there about which one could argue for reopening, and numerous questions left open about which one could argue for closure.

This answer is, to some degree, at loggerheads with my own Meta question linked earlier, since I argue there for consistency, and here I'm arguing that consistency is not always possible. I think my overarching view based on the comments and answers I received there and elsewhere on Meta is that some level of reasonable subjective diligence is required, as well as a thorough understanding of the existing rules and guidelines. Most importantly, we have to be aware that other users have different opinions about what types of questions are preferable for the site, and what types of questions are detrimental to the site, and if we don't take all of those views into consideration when we seek to close or reopen a question, we'll be stuck in a never-ending cycle of closure and reopening. Such a cycle might make sense on a question whose merits are highly complex and worthy of strong debate, but if we all fought that hard over every question, we'd be constantly distracted and unproductive.

  • Your answer is so good, I am tempted to delete mine. Thumbs up.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 8:08
  • Thanks for a comprehensive answer that looks at the problem from every angle. The main fallacy in the current system is that once a question has been closed for whatever reason, we are expected to prove that it is a 'really good question adding value to the site' to get it reopened. Now I contend that is a bad argument for keeping a question closed: if the reason for closure has been misspplied, it should be changed or the question opened, especially when somebody has pointed out the error. Use 'lack of research' to close: or else there should be a 'reason to close' that says 'bad question.' Jul 13, 2017 at 8:12
  • @EnglishStudent I can understand the argument you make, and the frustration with inconsistent closure. Of course, "bad question" as a reason would open up closures to even more subjectivity. I think the system is designed to be reasonably specific, but that those specific reasons won't capture every off-topic question. Keep in mind that if the question was closed, 5 different users (often including senior and highly experienced users) reached a consensus that it is off-topic, so for that to be misapplied would mean that all of those users were mistaken about the merits of the question. Jul 13, 2017 at 8:17
  • @Race You Anytime you say _if the question was closed, 5 different users reached a consensus that it is off-topic, so for that to be misapplied would mean that all of those users were mistaken about the merits of the question. _ unfortunately when any closed question is reopened, 5 members are independently deeming it on-topic! Part of the problem is that just 5 close-votes or 1 moderator vote is needed to close, and at least a few users often cast close votes. If the site makes that 10 votes while retaining the 1 moderator vote stipulation, less energy might need to be spent on reopening. Jul 13, 2017 at 8:22
  • Alternatively, we could set up a rotating 'quality control board' of experienced users with high reputation to block and delete 'bad questions' with the rule that their decision need not be explained using existing close-reasons, nor challenged by any users except possibly by moderators. Jul 13, 2017 at 8:25
  • 1
    @EnglishStudent changing the rules like you describe can be suggested by making a feature-request post, but in the case of those two particular suggestions (requiring 10 votes, or organizing a board of experienced users), I'm guessing they would be met with strong resistance, because the way things work right now is aligned with all the other SE sites. I think the best chance, if anything, is to recommend adding a new reason for closure. What exactly that would or should be would then be subject to a lot of debate, so it would definitely be an uphill effort. Jul 13, 2017 at 8:29
  • In that case it would be easier to add the new reason 'low quality question' to be used when existing standard reasons don't apply, where the stipulation is that only a high-reputation member (say, 7500+ rep points or maybe 10k+) can use that close-reason. That keeps it simple because we would not be expected to challenge that vote reason. The existing close pattern is skewed because people who themselves ask very few questions (with the notable example of @Mari-lou A who asked a lot of questions at ELU) use close-reasons to shut down what they deem 'bad questions' asked mainly by new users. Jul 13, 2017 at 8:38
  • 1
    @EnglishStudent "LQQ" is too subjective, and users will protest that it doesn't help them understand where to fix the post. It's a bad reason to close questions, even if it's the truth. And, more importantly, users should be given the opportunity to improve their posts and make them comply with the site's guidelines, standards blah, blah, blah...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 8:40
  • @Mari-lou A then the last option is that high-reputation members must be allowed to cast 'senior members' binding close votes' that differ from moderators' binding-votes in that 5 votes are still needed to close a question but users would not be allowed to challenge the reason for closure of any question closed in this manner. Jul 13, 2017 at 8:42
  • 1
    I am against elitism, I favour the underdog whenever possible. I don't want to belong in such a restricted clique circle, as you seem to be suggesting. I don't want to have a binding vote, I can make mistakes too. As long as a user has 3K (is that the quota, don't remember) they have as much right as anyone to say "This Q is OK" This Q is awful, and needs to be fixed" etc. I really have to go. The computer is burning!!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 8:47
  • @Mati-lou thank you for a most illuminating discussion on this meta question. Jul 13, 2017 at 9:26
  • 1
    +1 Just FYI: There was a "too localised" close reason earlier. And now that is no longer used.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jul 13, 2017 at 15:23

I cast my vote to close the 3rd question, which five users have now reopened,

What do you call a lady being proposed to by a man

but the reason I selected, fitted:

"Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see About single word requests"

Tag Info

To ensure your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word. YOU MUST INCLUDE A SAMPLE SENTENCE demonstrating how the word would be used. Please use the "phrase-requests" tag instead if you seek more than just a single word.

[emphasis in bold mine]

The OP did not show how they would have used these terms, nor did he explain 'why" they were necessary. Maybe in their native tongue these terms exist, and he was merely curious if there were English equivalents. I could have easily said that the question lacked any evidence of research, which it still does, in spades.

When a question is put on hold, this tells the OP to fix the question to improve it substantially. You did that courtesy for the OP. This is the edit...

Mr.A has proposed to Ms.B. In this context,

Mr.A is a ________ , and Ms.B is a ________ .

That's the sample sentence. That was your best shot? I mean it looks like a cop-out. A way of taking that guidance and applying it literally.

I can't speak for the other two questions that were closed. I saw them but I did not cast any vote. I knew that the first question was doomed with or without my intervention, it had its hours counted. However, if a user had posted a really good answer (but what?) then I'm sure the question would have survived longer than it did. And I'm sure that answer would have lifted that question and earned numerous upvotes... well, maybe not.

  • Thanks for a good answer that opens up more questions: is a 'good answer' to 'save' a 'bad question?' Moreover, what you have pasted in your answer is not all of the sample sentence. The sample sentence is as follows: "Mr.A has proposed to Ms.B: so Mr.A is a _________ and Ms.B is a ____________." That is the most basic sample sentence I can construct without trying to 'read Op's mind' -- OP is obviously looking for 2 words with the specified 2 meanings and that makes 'sample sentence' redundant in this case. However this is OP's question: the decision to improve the sample is left to OP. Jul 13, 2017 at 7:49
  • 1
    @EnglishStudent ... the decision to improve the sample is left to OP No you did that for him. For those new to the business, I can't vote to close a question a second time. But if I could, I would vote to close it for lack of research.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 7:54
  • Here you are right. If the question had been closed for lack of research I wouldn't raise an objection because many more questions on that list have been closed for lack of research, and I am not likely to supply the research for OP. Let me remind you that my objection is not to the closure itself but the close-reason provided, and based on the comments posted here by different members the real reason seems to be that OP has unknowingly asked a 'bad question' which in the language of ELU is a 'low quality question.' In that case, there should be a 'reason to close' that says: 'bad question.' Jul 13, 2017 at 8:04
  • @curiousdanni does my name appear as one of the five users who voted to reopen the question?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 15:18
  • @Mari-LouA Apologies, I misread your first sentence as saying "I cast my vote to open the third question"! I have to be more careful. Jul 13, 2017 at 15:19
  • 1
    Misread the 1st sentence and then posted your comment. You certainly didn't go past the opening sentence.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 13, 2017 at 15:22
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA No, I did read it all, and was rather confused, because if the edit was so sub-par as you demonstrate, why did you vote to reopen? I guessed that perhaps you voted to reopen, but only afterwards checked the edit. Knowing that I somehow misread the first sentence, this post now makes so much more sense. I would upvote this post, but my vote is locked in for now sorry. Jul 13, 2017 at 15:37

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