The following question currently up on EL&U illustrates the problem exactly:

Is exist one word to express "beliefs and value"?

I'll leave it to Janus Bahs Jacquet to illustrate what's wrong with the question:

What is ‘beliefs and value’ supposed to mean? You can’t just put two random words together with no context and then ask if there’s a word that expresses them – why should there be, if they’re just random words? There isn’t a word to express ‘sheep and coffee’ either.

So often this is the case. Question-askers assume there simply must be one single word to express two (or more) disparate concepts. (One wonders why they have such a burning need for this kind of economy and precision when the rest of their prose so often demonstrates neither.)

Similarly, the antonyms tag is full of misguided requests (often an effort to name categories in software applications, such as Antonym of outcast). In many cases, the question assumes that for every noun or verb in English there must exist an exact, perfect antonym. What is the opposite of "bottle"? Of "to fry"?

To make matters worse, such questions often invite a flood of attempts to answer. Often these are one-word answers, or nearly, and often they are not even remotely on the mark.

I think we need to step up and close such questions as "primarily opinion-based"—for that is what the rafts of guessing-game answers demonstrate—more promptly and completely (in video game parlance, even four close votes leave a question 100% combat effective). Either that or establish a new closing reason that addresses them more specifically.


  • 1
    Upvoted. We do already have an SWR closing reason, but each closing reason has only a finite character limit. Perhaps our dedicated help page could be improved.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jan 5, 2019 at 17:50
  • 2
    Surely "Eweban" is a word to express "sheep and coffee."
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 6, 2019 at 1:23
  • 4
    One wonders why they have such a burning need for this kind of economy and precision”. Well, there are about 170K single word entries in the OED, so it appears that the “obsession “ with single words is an old and widely spread issue among users of the English language. Why they love single words is probably a psycholinguistic issue. en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/… - having said that, an off-topic question is just an off-topic question, whatever the subject.
    – user 66974
    Jan 6, 2019 at 7:54
  • 5
    I think it's clear the questioner meant "values," as in referring to different belief and value systems. It's a terrible questions as written, but the two words are not that disparate as "sheep" and "coffee." Jan 9, 2019 at 4:06
  • I'm not sure how grouping my comments below jlovegren's post can answer your question. I don't consider SWRs to be the bane of EL&U, and IMO, the site needs SWRs to drive traffic to the site. I'll have to think about it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10, 2019 at 8:00
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    @Mari-LouA: I'm not against SWRs—I have a gold badge for them, after all—I'm just against poor ones, which we seem to have in abundance.
    – Robusto
    Jan 10, 2019 at 13:49
  • tchrist also has a gold badge but does very little in way of editing to fix or improve these low-quality SWRs. The answer doesn't lie in closing 50% of questions as being off-topic. It doesn't matter what the reason for closing is, it all boils down to lack of effort.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10, 2019 at 13:57
  • Lack of effort on whose part?
    – Robusto
    Jan 10, 2019 at 14:47
  • 1
    There's lots closable about that question but the nominal one about word that encompasses both beliefs and values is (in my opinion) not one of them. But I don't think the OP has the language felicity to rewrite, and we don't really know what the OP wants.
    – Mitch
    Jan 10, 2019 at 14:53
  • If they can't express themselves well enough to ask a cogent question, then there's always ELL.
    – Robusto
    Jan 10, 2019 at 15:29
  • The opposite of "bottle" is obviously "unbottle". Oh. You meant bottle the noun... ;) Jan 11, 2019 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


The questions may be frustrating to moderators, but they are legitimate questions. After all, why is there a tag for them? (single-word-requests) I see two inconvenient truths that are resisted on this site:

  • English is the world's Pidgin. There are more English speakers in China than in U.S., for example. Deal with it.
  • All disciplines have a need to name things and there is no nomenclature SE, so there will always be cross-disciplinary traffic.

The nomenclature questions aren't any more opinion-based than other types of licit questions here. The "opinion-based" gambit frequently gets abused on this site to exclude users who have less than native English proficiency. People with bad English often ask good questions that can stump native speakers. Let's try to be more inclusive.

  • 3
    The question, cited by Robusto, can never be a good question. Just because there are more Chinese speakers in China who speak English (badly) then there are Americans who speak English (better) in the US does not mean the site should accept any question willy-nilly without demanding a minimum standard. The site is already swamped by illogical and badly constructed questions, proofreading pleas and nonsensical requests.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10, 2019 at 7:24
  • 4
    The site has to preserve the sanity of its best contributors or EL&U will see an increase in non-native speakers providing unidiomatic/bad/wrong/ungrammatical answers, which, by the way, is already on the rise.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10, 2019 at 7:25
  • Either we should be encouraged to radically edit LQQ w/o some users getting their knickers into a twist or the OPs should fix/improve their woefully under-researched questions. Asking users to show what research was done and provide a sample sentence are not unreasonable demands.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10, 2019 at 7:29
  • 1
    The question Is exist one word to express "beliefs and value"? is not legitimate because it was posted by a non-native speaker. The fact that three users upvoted it is totally nuts and has no justification whatsoever. The -1 is for the "Deal with it." Precisely the same could be said to those who oppose the idea of the site having some minimal standard.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10, 2019 at 7:39
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA: Why not retool this rebuttal to jlovgren as an answer to my question?
    – Robusto
    Jan 10, 2019 at 7:45
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA thank you for the spirited rebuttal. The +5 is probably also for "Deal with it." :-) But let's be frank, can't we look past people's failure to master do-support? Try explaining the rules for do support succinctly!
    – user31341
    Jan 10, 2019 at 23:40
  • "Try explaining the rules for do support succinctly!" ... Just do it!
    – Robusto
    Jan 25, 2019 at 3:33
  • 1
    @Robusto good one.
    – user31341
    Jan 26, 2019 at 1:29

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