Ed Chu's question Is “I was having a walk” correct? has been closed (with just one vote plus mod) for supposed "proofreading". I think the proofreading flag was inappropriate here, as the question is clearly about usage, and the conflicting comments by @MichaelHarvey and @Kris indicate there are clear differences in usage, no doubt regionally based.

However, @microenzo suggests in a later comment to see “I am going to have a walk”. That question has two answers that more or less address the issue in the closed question.

In my view the better option would have been to close Ed Chu's question as a duplicate, since one of the purposes of keeping duplicates in the system is to enable multiple search solutions to direct towards the one good question. Note that currently the first entry returned in a search for "having a walk" is the closed question, but as it hasn't been closed as a duplicate, it doesn't direct users to the "good" question, and there's a small risk of it being deleted entirely.

I'm not sure what should happen in this situation, i.e. what action should be taken (other than posting here) in the best interests of our site. I don't want to edit the closed question to change it from "proofreading" to a valid question on usage, so that it can then be reopened - I would then have to flag it as a duplicate, as should have happened in the first place. Editing would therefore be a waste of time.

My Meta question is therefore:

Is there a way - perhaps at moderator level - to change the closure from "off-topic/proofreading" to "duplicate/link-to-question" directly, rather than me having to engineer a tiresome edit-reopen-flag-close process?

  • Ad you say, for regular users, we have to go through reopen-recluse. No one who voted to close the first time can close vote again. Diamond mods can get around this.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 22, 2018 at 4:25

2 Answers 2


Well, I thought this should have been an open and closed (as duplicate) case, but apparently not. A moderator could reopen then immediately reclose the question as a duplicate in under a minute were they convinced they should do so. So I think bringing it to meta was the right option.

And I definitely think it should be closed as duplicate.

The question is very clearly asking if the verb “have” is correct in “having a walk”. This is most clear in the body of the post; you might think that it was asking for everything to be proofread from the title but that’s just because someone other than op edited it. Nonetheless I think that the edit was reasonable.

The other question asks about “going to have a walk”, but it seems sufficiently close to be a good duplicate. It has more answers (none really felt definitive so I posted my own... with evidence!) and those answers paint a more complete picture.

In any case Ed Chu’s question should not be considered proofreading. The question checks off all the boxes for not proofreading as defined by the help center:

  • Passage quoted
  • Specific source of concern mentioned (the verb in “having a walk”)
  • Reason for concern included (colleague said it was wrong)

It also checks off one box not explicitly mentioned but important nonetheless (mentioned here): it is the type of question that is statistically likely to occur to other people. Because it’s a duplicate.

The only thing missing would be research, but the ideal, most helpful close reason here is duplicate. This way people (both the op and anyone else) can easily find answers.

  • Thanks Laurel. It seems bizarre that my original edit (to avoid it being closed as POB due to the "what do you think" line, and to turn the statement in the title into a question) could have triggered a "proofreading" flag. I successfully raise plenty of those flags each week myself, so I know what we're looking for. Anyway, mods have a hard task and none of us are perfect. I've bitten the bullet and made the necessary re-edits, but I don't (yet) have reopen privileges. Would you mind voting to reopen? Dec 24, 2018 at 0:45
  • Aha - reopen achieved (that was quick!). Now, to close as a duplicate... :-) Dec 24, 2018 at 1:16
  • 2
    @Chappo Yeah I was the last reopen vote. Now to wait for duplicate close votes.
    – Laurel Mod
    Dec 24, 2018 at 1:56
  • 1
    Just so nobody suspects Andrew for the first vote against this answer, I'll confess that it is mine. I agree that it's not proofreading per our present definition, but I think it is a bad candidate for duplicate closure according to our proceedures. Duplicate closure is supposed to save those questions which have redeeming value in redirecting people to another question, but a barebones question like this has little to nothing which would attract people from search engines that the other one does not have, so it would be better to merge and delete it.
    – Tonepoet
    Dec 24, 2018 at 17:00
  • @Tonepoet Merges can only be done by a moderator, so I think you’re talking to the wrong person about that. In any case I could easily see this question as a signpost: searching “having a walk” (quotes) only helps us find the “master” question if the duplicate is still alive.
    – Laurel Mod
    Dec 24, 2018 at 17:18
  • @Laurel Naturally a moderator is required to merge and I may address one eventually if I become sure that it would be the best course of action, but right now I am expressing a disagreement with what seems to be your proposed course of action. It is possible that I am mistaken. Would you consider editing the answer to more expressly explain how this could serve as a unique signpost? Doing so would allow me to retract my vote if I deem the explanation is adequate enough to persuade me that I am mistaken, and I could also lend the final closure vote if nobody else makes it first.
    – Tonepoet
    Dec 24, 2018 at 17:48

Moderators have to re-open a question in order to close it with a different reason. We can't just swap the reason.

As it stands, the question is a proof-reading question, and it's off-topic for that reason. It should not have been asked here in that form. There is no reason to re-open it. Comments have been correctly used to give advice on the question, including one from a mod (my emphasis):

When a question asks for proofreading or rewriting (“how should I write this?”, “is this correct?”, “which is correct?”), that is out of scope for this site and may be removed. See: “What topics can I ask about here? - Help Center”. If there is an unstated specific concern, such as “What does (word) mean in context?” or “How does (grammar or punctuation rule) apply in context?” try asking that question instead.

There might be a reason to re-open it if it's edited to be on topic. If it's on-topic and a duplicate, then it might be closed as a duplicate.

  • 3
    I don’t see this question as asking anything more than if the verb “have” is correct in a specific context, which is the same as the old question. Therefore a “specific source of concern” was identified and it is not proofreading.
    – Laurel Mod
    Dec 22, 2018 at 19:41
  • No, the specific concern needs to be specified, together with why it's a concern.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Dec 22, 2018 at 19:51
  • 6
    They said their colleague said “have a walk” is wrong, which is why it’s a concern for them. It’s pretty clear from reading the question that they’re asking about the verb “have”; note the title was edited by someone else and may make it seem like it’s asking for the entire sentence to be proofread but that’s not the questioner’s fault. The point of the proofreading close reason is to prevent questions which only one person could possibly ask, which this is not since it’s a duplicate.
    – Laurel Mod
    Dec 22, 2018 at 20:13

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