From this question I get the impression that there is some agreement that single-word-requests should really only give one answer per post. However, this behavior doesn't seem to be enforced in any way. Should we be flagging, downvoting or commenting on these answers to encourage the correct behavior?

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    I'm not convinced that the question you link to reaches a clear community consensus that one answer per post is the "correct" behavior.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 16:13
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    @J.R. at this time there are 19 upvotes for the post advocating separated answers and only 4 for the answer that explicitly advocates keeping them together. That seems fairly decided to me.
    – bendl
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 16:17
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    That's 19 upvotes for a question that was viewed over 500 times by a community of over 10K people (less than 4% of the viewers, and just a tiny sliver of the community members). I'm not in favor of "enforcing" behavior endorsed less than two dozen upvoters.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


If there are many possibilities, all of which are equally viable, the question may be in danger of being too open-ended.

In that case, the appropriate thing to do would be to narrow the question. Place a comment on the question, requesting stricter criteria for the answer they're looking for.

Meanwhile vote to close, as @Kit Z. Fox comments. Select "Off-topic", then the following from the resulting menu:

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

If the question is closed, the resulting informative banner provides useful links for writing good SWR questions. On EL&U and Stack Exchange more generally, closing a question isn't quite the same as discarding it, (that's reserved for question deletion, and even that can be reversed). If the OP then edits the question, it will be queued for review to be reopened.

Naturally, it can feel quite confronting to find that one's question has been closed. If the OP edits their question suitably in response to your (comment-) request to narrow the question, it would be nice to also retract your vote-to-close. You'll need to click "close" (as if you were going to close the question again) to access the retraction button.

  • And vote to close it, using the single-word-request reason, which also includes helpful links on how SWRs are intended to be asked.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 15:47
  • @KitZ.Fox Thanks. VtC is now incorporated in my answer. Please don't delete your comment as a mod's recommendation carries a lot of weight in matters of procedure.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 16:11
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    My question was about answers, not questions. I agree that there are situations where the question is off-topic or too broad, but there are also scenarios where it is perfectly valid to suggest several competing words. In particular, my question refers to what actions would be appropriate toward the responder to encourage one post per word.
    – bendl
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 16:22
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    @bendl Yes, I understood your (Meta.ELU) question. However, I'm suggesting that those problematic answers posted are merely symptoms of their respective questions, so the suggested action relates to the root cause (the OP's question). If the question can be answered equally well with 10 different words, I don't think we want to ask the answerer to post 10 answers - instead, the OP should refine their question so that the community can help them find the smaller number of answers (ideally, just one) that really fit the scenario the OP had in mind.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 0:11
  • I am voting against this answer, in part because I agree with bendi's prior comment, and do not feel as if answers should necessarily be held against questions. However, even in cases where this problem is symptomatic of the question's disease, I also opine that this is the wrong closure reason to address the problem. This closure reason does not expressly mention anything about there being too many possible answers to a question, and its use may lead to the questioner trying to further elaborate upon the question, without knowing what their goal is. The Too Broad close reason is much better.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 18:12
  • @Tonepoet Thanks for your note. I agree with the concept of dealing with problems in Q & in A separately. If the list-answer actually answers the OP's question, I see no need to penalise the answer (it's doing what it should). If there are a small number of items in the list, they can be separated into separate answers for voting. In the above, I'm talking about larger lists. It's not practical to separate them out. POB and Too Broad are valid reasons to close. The main point of my answer is to tell the OP to narrow the question.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 0:13

It may be that some users aren't aware that it's better to post separately.

I have, through the years, guided several users regarding this, and now they post separately, and also limit to the most suitable 1 or 2 suggestions along with respective explanations, instead of listing all synonyms in one go.

Also, like Lawrence mentioned, if the question is actually inviting a list of answers, or if it's too broad, deal with the question first. Guide the asker on how to narrow it down.

  • I should stop answering these meta stuff for a while. It's actually getting monotonous. – NVZ 11 hours ago
    – user66974
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 16:32
  • @Josh Can't... Resist... Tempted to answer more.. it's a drug.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 16:47
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    The all time highest participant in ELU meta is @NVZ, the self-appointed 'guardian of meta' -- this is a noble mission, so you keep up the good work! Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 21:36

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