A similar question was asked here: Should we correct (or point out) language errors in questions? .

I fully agree with the advice given in the accepted answer in respect of grammar and the occasional spelling mistake. But what about posts in which the questioner seemingly shows no regard at all for writing conventions?

To me, the original author in such cases is not showing respect to the community that he or she is expecting help from.

I typically quickly click away from such posts, but this recent one was bad enough to prompt my question: USA english ,but im not from there so a have a lil issue with that langueage

So, should I correct, point out or ignore egregious mechanical errors in questions where the asker has made little effort to follow writing conventions?

  • 7
    Low effort questions are detrimental to the site. They should not be dignified. Downvote, vote to close, and walk away.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 12:51
  • 1
    @Dan Bron. Thanks. You are right about all-round low quality questions. I should have made it a bit clearer that I had in mind questions that in themselves might be acceptable here, but are written in a careless fashion. The question I linked to was not the best to exemplify this, since it was both sloppily written and a poor question in itself.
    – Shoe
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 6:27
  • The closing of questions that through shared effort can be made better, and for which answers can be developed, is also detrimental to the site. It is likely more so. Those who treasure their time in relation to the "dignity" of a question have always been free to jump directly to Bron's third step―walk away. Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 12:07
  • Unless it's changed recently, I don't think the editing system allows one to 'nitpick' (e.g., as much as I'd love to, I can't spend the day just changing "an" to "a" and vice versa). I'm a complainer, by nature, but I think this editing system is...the bestest ever. Why not utilize it, unapologetically, and truly help someone in the process? A Drill SGT doesn't care what anyone thinks when he drops someone--with puny arms for "no reason"--he knows he'll be 'thanked' later.
    – user294180
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 17:13
  • I think the link your question should have said: USA english [sic] ,but [sic] im [sic] not from there so a [sic] have a lil issue with that langueage [sic]. But at least now I know the root of sickening.
    – J.R.
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 21:49
  • I couldn't read the post in question as it was removed by moderation, but just the link indicates the poster wasn't a native English speaker. Since I couldn't read the post, I will give the poster the benefit of doubt that their skill in English ain't so gut and wasn't trolling. Maybe there should be an ESL group on StackExchange that posts like that get dropped into?
    – Jim
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


I think that you should feel free to put as little effort into a post as the author did. If you think it could be salvaged into a question you’re interested in answering, then whatever effort you put into it is for you and the community, not for the author. I don’t think you should feel obligated to spend time fixing a question if you feel that the value added wouldn’t offset the time spent explaining or correcting the issues.

On ELL, if a question is borderline, and the user gave some indication that they’re not just a drive-by, I will sometimes leave a comment asking for details or suggesting an edit to see if they are engaged with their question. If they make some effort to respond, then maybe my time wouldn’t be wasted if I helped them get their question shaped up. However, we have a good portion of our community that accesses the site mostly from mobile devices and they’re EFL learners, so we’re probably more tolerant than might make sense for an ELU audience.

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    Thanks. I like the point you make that whatever effort you put into it is for you and the community, not for the author.
    – Shoe
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 6:30

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