If a user asks to check essay, are we allowed to do that or is that off-topic. I'm a little confused regarding that.

  • 8
    That's pretty off-topic. 1) it is identical to proof-reading. 2) an entire essay is way too much work 3) essay checking presumably involves style suggestions which are way too opinionated 4) it doesn't fit well in a Q&A site. If however you have a particular sentence and a very particular question about that sentence, that might be on-topic. A general 'is this sentence OK?' is not.
    – Mitch
    Jul 16, 2017 at 21:49
  • 4
    Where is the confusion? Why do you think users can ask to check their essays? Please, is there something on the site that gives you the impression that this type of request is welcomed?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 16, 2017 at 22:04
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA There is nothing on the site that invites proofreading or essaychecking. But most people see the banner "English Language" and think to themselves, "Ah, this looks like a good place to ask."
    – NVZ Mod
    Jul 17, 2017 at 10:31
  • @NVZ so logically, there should be many requests for translations, and yet we hardly receive any. Not any actually.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 17, 2017 at 10:38
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Perhaps, because there's Google Translate for translations. But Google can't proofread or check essays.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jul 17, 2017 at 11:08
  • @NVZ of course! How silly of me to forget.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 17, 2017 at 11:10
  • @Mari-LouA We do receive translation requests, but they are closed early too. Also, the [translation] tag info is quite explicit about what fits here, which may help in limiting questions. We could have a "proof-reading" tag (which could explicitly state that we don't actually do proof-reading) but I'm not sure what aspects of proof-reading would be on-topic as valid questions. The [translation] tag does help with explaining what is on-topic.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jul 17, 2017 at 12:58
  • 3
    @AndrewLeach I'd suggest against having a "proofreading" tag, because that would invite more people to ask proofreading questions. Nobody reads tag infos before asking a question, especially newbies who ask one-offs.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jul 17, 2017 at 13:00
  • The proofreading tag was removed when I posted a question and tagged it proofreading. I think Andrew actually posted an answer on meta, it was on that subject, and removed the tag from several random posts :) my question was on topic but it was about proofreading.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 17, 2017 at 13:52
  • related: Proof-reading tag: what to do with it? I believe it was this question, which was always on-topic, that prompted the decision to burninate the proof-reading tag
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 17, 2017 at 17:22
  • @AndrewLeach users, newcomers, and casual visitors do not read tags. The only people who do, are those who post questions about tags on meta. See yesterday's IELTS proofreading request, the tag explicitly says proofreading is off topic, in capital letters. Maybe it has discouraged more than one visitor from posting their essay but we'll never know.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 18, 2017 at 4:20

1 Answer 1


Simply "Please check my essay" is off-topic and has been for a very long time. The reason is principally that it only helps one person: Stack Exchange seeks to be a repository of knowledge in Q&A form which will help others in the future.

If we were to check/correct an essay, it's quite likely that we would be assisting in completing some examination or test, which should be one person's sole work. It would be assisting in cheating. There are cases where that won't apply, but attempting to differentiate is Too Difficult, so there is a blanket ban.

An entire essay is (as Mitch has commented) "way too much work". Have a look round at some highly-voted answers on the site, and the amount of work which can be put into answering a seemingly simple, innocuous question. Scale that up to an essay. Which parts of the essay should get that treatment?

It is possible to apply a level of detail to a specific point within an essay. The asker should choose a single aspect of a single sentence and ask a well-formed question about that. (Which indicates another issue with text-checking: generally it shows that the asker is lazy and can't be bothered to do any analysis of their own work. That doesn't go down well, as a rule.)

Checking texts is explicitly mentioned in the Help pages, which explain that proof-reading is explicitly off-topic, and show how an acceptable question might be formulated.

How can I ask about checking my text?

Checking a text is proof-reading. This site does not offer a proof-reading service where the community will read a text and suggest corrections. If you would like that, there are online services available, a few of which are free.

However, this site can answer specific questions about a particular point in your text. You need to quote the passage, highlight the word you're uncertain about, and then explain why you're not sure about it.

That is, not

Is the verb right in "He has run the company for five years now"?

but something like

He has run the company for five years now.

Is the verb has run correct here? If "he" is still in post, the action is still in progress, so should the verb be a continuous/progressive verb like He has been running? Does the inclusion of "now" make a difference here?

  • The question "Is the verb has run correct here?" highlights what the question is asking about.
  • "The action is still in progress, so should it be a continuous-aspect verb?" explains the quandary.
  • "Does now make a difference?" provides additional information about the question which answers might touch upon.

Note that you should also include your own research into the query. The example indicates that a little research may have been done with "Should it be a continuous-aspect verb?", but research is needed.

Don't forget to tag the question with tags which are relevant to the particular points you're asking about: [verbs][progressive-aspect] would be a reasonable choice in this example.


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