Today, I saw that Help Center/on-topic has this text:
- Proofreading ("Is this right?", "Are there any mistakes?"), unless a specific source of concern is clearly specified. See below for hints on checking existing texts.
- Writing advice (see Writers.SE instead) or critique requests.
I've been wanting "no ghost-writing" to complement "no proof-reading" for a long time now indeed. Glad to see it was added, and more along with it.
This sparked me to ask this question about adding additional categories to that page:
transcription requests, broadly ("what did he say at 1:12:36 of this movie?"). This is different to "what kind of accent does this have" or other phonemic or phonetic questions (which are on-topic so long as they're about English phonemics and phonetics).
interpretation of lyrics, poetry, or otherwise investigation of semantics (not structure) in deliberately ambiguous or creative contexts. These questions can be on on-topic if the work in question has attracted a body of scholarly attention, such that people reading answers can have at least some confidence in their relative authority (which helpfully excludes the most common problematic category: the interpretation of modern pop music lyrics).¹
word or phrase comparisons, unless the relevant definitions are quoted and referenced by the questioner, who then expresses more nuanced doubts with specific reference to the cited definitions (no bald "which is bigger, a realm or a dominion?"-style questions). We might have some tag burnination to do here.
What do you think? To be most effective, here's how I propose responses to this meta-question be structured:
- upvotes mean "I agree with the spirit of this question but am not commenting on the details", and downvotes mean "I disagree with the spirit of this question but am not commenting on the details"
- each answer should focus on one off-topic area and either:
- argue against the inclusion of one of the above categories; upvotes on such answers are interpreted as "keep these types of questions on-topic", and downvotes mean "no, these types of questions are off-topic and should be explicitly noted in the Help Center".
- support the inclusion of one of the above categories, and potentially suggest improvements to the language which will ultimately be presented to new users in the Help Center. Votes on these answers should be interpreted in the opposite sense to the previous bullet.
- propose a (single) new category of off-topic questions and language used to describe it in the help center. Votes are to be interpreted in the same way as the previous bullet.
- be a meta-answer and respond to the question broadly (e.g. "I think the Help Center page is long enough already, and already prohibits your categories anyway"; "Clearly you hate kittens and probably steal candy from babies"). Votes on these answers have their usual interpretation on Meta.
Any feedback welcome. Feel free to be brutal.
¹ I believe these topics are already excluded by the current language, but I want to have something explicit about lyrics and poetry to point askers to. Suggestions for other concrete subjects, which like poetry & lyrics; are open to interpretation and go to authorial intent, and are therefore distinct from answerable meaning-in-context questions are welcome.