I asked a question that boils down to a single word request. The question got 7 upvotes, the answer got 14, but it also has 3 close votes, so it seems to have gotten a very positive and very negative community response at the same time, so its hard to tell if this type of question appropriate for the site or not?

  • 4
    The close votes were because you did not say what research you had done. In this case, I think those close votes were too harsh. You can't find the answer to this question in what we call General Reference -- (dictionaries, Etymonline). Keep it up!
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 21:34
  • 2
    Single-word requests are fine. It gives those of us who are not grammarians a chance to post some answers. Be sure to mention the research that you have done (or state that you could find nothing online).
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 21:42
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    There's buckets of commentary about SWRs on meta. In short, SWRs are on topic, but they tend to be poorly thought out and attract poor answers. So when asking them attempt to think them out well first.
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 2:24
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    Tchrist compiled a list of the more relevant literature regarding single-word-requests in the question What’s Wrong with Single Word Requests? The Stack Overflow blog post Let's play the guessing game by Jeff Atwood also gives some insight on the matter. Many of us do like them, myself included and it is a useful tool, but it is also a problematic and contentious question category.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 3:12
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    In my opinion the "show your own research" is sometimes used by lazy reviewers. Showing that you cannot find the response using web search often does not add much value, but rather makes the question more messy. And it is not an easy task to demonstrate that you have not found something. I personally like single word request. Don't worry that some members of the community are unfriendly and lazy to stop to think if the "not-showing enough own research" close reason really is applicable to each particular case. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 10:37

2 Answers 2


The voting interface indicates that the three close votes were for the following reason:

Please include the research you’ve done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic.

Presumably, then, people are close-voting mainly because you didn't use Google to try to find the answer to your question (or didn't tell us that you did).

To me, this kind of thing seems a bit pointless (as Google is not a commonly available "reference" anyway, and the question doesn't seem likely to be easily answered by an actual reference work like a dictionary) but people with voting privileges can decide that a question isn't interesting to them, or that they feel the asker hasn't shown enough effort, and vote to close it pretty much for that reason.

I wouldn't worry about it in a case like this, because as Mari-Lou A said the question has also received votes to leave it open in the close votes review queue, it seems like you've got the answer that you wanted, and it seems a fair amount of other people found the Q&A useful (based on the scores).

If you want to reduce the chances of getting close votes like this on future questions, just put in some sentence about the research you have done on your own to try to find the answer to your question.

Also, for single word requests, an example sentence can sometimes be useful, and it also reduces the chance of your question getting closed with the following reason:

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 you think your question is really unlikely to be interesting for native speakers (which evidently didn't turn out to be the case this time: I doubt all of the upvotes are from non-native speakers) consider asking it on ELL instead.

I am not a big fan of single word requests in general (it's one of the tags I ignore and hide) but I don't see anything particularly inappropriate about your question.

  • Thanks, I'll make sure to document my research next time!
    – chiliNUT
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 8:55

To address the question posed in the title:

Single word requests are bad.

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    -1 This answer is bad, and here's why... It does not explain why SWRs are bad.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 14:56
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    @NVZ Bring it on! Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 15:15
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    I don't get it.
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 16:25
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    I think the terribleness of this answer is commentary on why SWRs are bad. They encourage such "mere" answers instead of answers that explain.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 17:17
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    @ColleenV I don't think that SWRs specifically encourage such answers. I think such answers are the default for most casual or new users to StackExchange broadly, having built up expectations about how to answer on SE from answering on Yahoo! Answers, or forums, BBSes, etc. SWRs just more visibly exhibit this diseases because they're popular, and so you get more mediocre answers from new or casual users. And SWRs are more popular because they're more fun. In other words, the reason SWRs get bad answers is because of the opposite of this answer: SWRs are good.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 18:31
  • @DanBron I'm actually not arguing one way or the other - I was mostly just trying to figure out why Araucaria wrote such a terse answer when they are normally much more thorough :)
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 18:40
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    If it's a parody of S.W.R. answers you're aiming for here, you need to copy a dictionary definition for the word bad and expect people to understand why irrespective of any further explanation or evidence. Since satire isn't protected fair use, I'd recommend using a Wiktionary definition with a CC-BY-SA 3.0 notice so you have express license to do it.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 18:45
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    To make this answer more true-to-life, you might limit it to a list of four or five potentially apt (but unexplained) adjectives: "Undesirable. Unacceptable. Unwanted. Unhelpful. Unappreciated. Hope this helps!"
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 19:32
  • @SvenYargs I wouldn't be so sure about that. Undesirable? Depends on personal tastes. Unacceptable? SWRs are accepted by a majority. Unwanted? Sure, a lot of them are unwanted, but let's not paint them all with the same brush. Unhelpful? To many, these are helpful. Unappreciated? Unclear what you mean.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 19:39
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    @NVZ: Exactly, my friend.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 19:39
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    What is a word, or a phrase or an expression or an idiom or a saying to express utter exhaustion with a topic? Like "fed up with beating a dead horse", only pithier, and doesn't seem to condone cruelty to animals? Can we just downvote and close bad SWRs and stop talking about them, please. Oh,and what is a word for axe starting with y? Anyone know?
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 20:36
  • 3
    @ab2 "covfefe" is the word. (noun: utter exhaustion) - NVZ dictionaries.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 8:35
  • bad bad answer indeed Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 21:11
  • @SleepingOnaGiant'sShoulder It looks like one of your answers! Haha! Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 21:40
  • @Araucaria That's a little rude, don't you think?
    – user231780
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 15:46

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