So, under this question

making an appointment with a psychologist

I would like to request an appointment with my psychologist and I was wondering if the following sentence is correct:

could you please arrange a follow-up appointment for me for the next week? many thanks in advance!

@Choster made a masterful comment which informs the OP not only that EL&U doesn't address specific proof-reading questions, but fundamentally why:

Welcome to EL&U. This site is not organized around checking the adequacy of one phrasing or another; rather, we seek to answer questions about underlying principles of grammar or usage, so that the answers may help many people. If you can reframe your question to ask about why you think the sentence might not be correct (for instance, if there is a certain rule or guideline you learned which is unclear in this instance), we may be able to assist. Otherwise, this question may be closed as a proofreading request. Please take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance.

Currently, the banner which appears when a question is closed for the "proofreading" reason reads:

Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified.

I think changing the text of this banner to reflect @choster's comment, or something approximating it, would be an enormous improvement. In particular, it would help OPs understand why EL&U doesn't provide a service they come in with a reasonable expectation that it does, and would avoid a significant portion of acrimonious and enervating arguments.

Can we change the text for the "proofreading" close banner to something more descriptive like this?

  • I'll interpret upvotes on this question as "yes, I support this change" and
  • downvotes as "no, I oppose this change".
  • I think answers to this question would be most helpful if they clearly adopted one or another of these two positions, and laid out their rationale for that position.
  • If the answer is "Maybe, but ...", then a helpful approach would be to detail specific critiques of the replacement text, and suggest specific and concrete language that the respondent would instead recommend.
  • 2
    It's worth considering, but we can't just use coster's comment as is because the max length is 400 characters. I suggest posting an answer with the wording you suggest, and then we vote on answers.
    – Laurel Mod
    Nov 23, 2017 at 0:27
  • Thanks, good insight. I think I'd prefer the community to post their suggestions, and let the voting decide.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 23, 2017 at 0:28
  • 4
    @DanBron I believe a better format for this sort of suggestion is to post a "question" outlining the requirement (and the reasons) and then at least one answer with a solution. You can post a solution to your own "question". And others can too. Here, you are conflating votes recognising (or rejecting) the problem with votes on your proposed solution.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Nov 23, 2017 at 6:54
  • I think it would help to get a list of questions in this broad area that we actually do want to keep open. Specificity isn't enough - loads of questions which do ask something about specific issues get very quickly closed. Nov 26, 2017 at 1:13

2 Answers 2


I fully support a change. The key point is that this site wants questions about an underlying principle of grammar or usage. Many people who have had questions closed complain that they have identified a particular source of concern, e.g. "I've said that I don't know whether send a postcard is correct", and don't understand that we want them to explain what about that phrase (tense, transitive/intransitive, etc.) might be incorrect.

My suggested wording (a hack job of choster's comment) is:

Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern (underlying principle, rule or guideline of grammar or usage) in the text is clearly identified.

169 characters

  • 1
    I don't think we want to encourage any questions that appear to be proofreading questions. The message shouldn't imply that any proofreading questions are okay. Instead it should say something like "grammaticality judgements must identify a particular grammatical element and a dialect of English" Nov 26, 2017 at 1:12
  • @curiousdannii That's not likely to be very helpful phrasing for L2 speakers of English. Nov 28, 2017 at 21:35

Here's a possibility:

Questions asking whether some phrase is grammatical must ① identify one specific issue, ② specify a dialect of English, and ③ explain why you are not sure, such as by quoting conflicting authorities about the issue.

This covers the two problems I see in this kind of question: questions that don't really explain what they're asking about, and questions which don't explain why the OP is unsure. The best way to fix the second is by requiring them to present the conflict as they see it, such as by quoting authorities.

Perhaps "authorities" could be replaced with "discussions". We don't want these close messages to be too wordy.

Here's a recent example of a bad question I think the proofreading/grammaticality close reason should be covering:

I have these three sentences:

Throughout human history, mental illness has been stigmatized beyond belief. Individuals that have been diagnosed as mentally ill have been subject to social opposition. Stigma researchers from University of Chicago, Patrick W. Corrigan and Amy C. Watson, conclude these statements and believe that public and self-stigma both affect the society diagnosed with mental disorders.

Is it ok to use the term "conclude these statements" as in the third sentence above?

Questions like this really must explain why the OP is unsure, otherwise they're a complete waste of everyone's time.

  • I feel like if a question is off-topic, but would be on-topic if it provided more explanation of why the OP is unsure, it can and should be closed for the "show your research" close reason. I prefer to reserve the "proofreading" close reason for questions that give a sentence or passage and are either not specific enough about what part they want evaluated/changed, or not specific enough about how they want it to be evaluated/changed. Your points 2 and 3 don't seem central to this close reason, in my opinion
    – herisson
    Nov 26, 2017 at 22:40
  • @sumelic In that case we should just make the close reason a blanket "no proofreading". I was working with the assumption that there is some sort of proofreading-like question which we do want. Nov 26, 2017 at 23:24

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