This question asks

what is the world that best completes the sentence and why please

there are those .... the world cup is a month of volcanic excitement and others who see it simply as alot of quadriennal balls.

A/of whom B/for whose C/whom for D/whose for

Not only is it asking for us to do the OP's work, it's a defective question (or defectively copied). This is an incredibly common occurrence on EL&U. There needs to be a straight-forward way to close these outright (rather than have to route them off to E2L or say "lacks research" or some such).

  • 5
    Why is this a bad question for EL&U? Because no one but the poster cares what the "correct" answer is—and no one will ever search EL&U for an answer to it. That is, the question is "too localized" to be of enduring interest—which is why I gave a multiple-choice test question as the fifth of my five examples of types of "too localized" questions in a comment beneath my answer to the question What is the best way of dealing with the questions that are too localised?
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 6:53
  • 2
    @SvenYargs The concern being expressed in the comments, and suggested by the term "stupid test" isn't that nobody cares, but that all of options given as answers are wrong, and one of them must be chosen.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 12:25
  • 2
    Why wouldn't that question be best closed for lack of research? We shouldn't be answering multiple choice test questions for people - we should be answering the real question which is what goes in the blank and why. It should be closed for lack of research and a comment left directing the author to ELL in my opinion. This doesn't seem like the sort of question a serious English enthusiast would find interesting.
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 10:17
  • @ColleenV - If the test itself is ridiculously written, how can one reasonably expect the STUDENT (generally with poor command of English) to "research" it and find an answer?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 11:58
  • 4
    EL&U is not for people with a poor command of English.
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 13:30
  • Who knows if the OP even knew the difference in meaning between "whom" and "whose"? But I would guess a little searching in the dictionary would have eliminated 50% of the options.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 16:43
  • AI is the answer! Commented May 29, 2019 at 0:41
  • 2
    @ConfusedSoul no it isn't. It's flawed. See my comments.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 8:16
  • I just came here to say, I have had a light bulb moment, I now know why we get so many crummy questions, and why we will continue to get them. Forever. We are the easier port for people who are either too lazy or too dumb to know how to Google. It will always be so, and it will only get worse.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 8:20
  • 1
    @Mari-Lou A this is a depressing outlook. If we can’t use AI to resolve ELL confusion, we can definitely use it to banish crummy posts. Commented May 29, 2019 at 8:29
  • @Mari-LouA: To be fair, Google searches often yield SE links high in the answer mix. So they could have got here by Googling.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 0:58
  • 1
    @ConfusedSoul: We already know what questions need to be closed. What we lack is the tools to immediately rid ourselves of these. If AI provides an additional argument to convince the powers that be that it's not merely human judgment closing the question, fine. But the real problem, again, is what comes after we get the list of candidates.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 1:12

4 Answers 4


How about off topic; other; and then explain—e.g., “answers not suitable to question” or “question not clear.”

In the instant case, with three typos in the question and likely one word transposition in the answers, this is casual to the point of expecting others to provide not only the answers but the question as well.

No added categories are needed.

  • If the question is ‘not clear’, then the obvious solution is to close the post for being unclear Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. I've rarely seen a multiple choice question where all the answers were unsuitable, so let's discard also that one.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 7:39
  • 3
    Writing a specific reason for every MC test is a pain though, so when faced with these LQQs I nearly always select "lack of research". It fits, the OP showed no effort, no research whatsoever.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 7:42
  • @Mari-LouA - I'm guessing that about one in four of the multiple-choice question questions either have no valid answer or several that are equally valid.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 12:20
  • @Mari-LouA That's a good answer (as well as Xanne's).
    – Mitch
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 15:39

I think the solution is to require new participants to use a wizard in posting a question.

This could be implemented as a web form that has more than two boxes (right now we have two -- the title field and the body), where each box is required, and there is a tiny specific help feature that pops up for each box.

What we would need to do in order to implement this would be to first come up with a list of the most common types of question, and then draft the input box prompts and help bubbles that would elicit a reasonably well posed question.

For example, for single-word-request, there would be a box for "show us the research you attempted, and include at least one link as well as an explanation of why your research left you unsatisfied." (The wording can be improved -- that was a very rough draft.) There would also be a box for the sample sentence.

There would be a link to a canonical q-a (perhaps on Meta) showing two examples of well posed questions.

At the VERY BEGINNING the participant would be asked, "Are you a beginning English learner? If so, please don't post here. There is another site made just for you! (link to ELL)"

Experienced users (above a certain rep specific to question formulation) would not be required to use the wizard, but everyone should have the option to use it.

  • @JJJ - Yes, exactly, but with more support. That is certainly a nice start. (I tried it with two different choices of radio buttons and it only took me one step ahead.) Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 2:23

We are limited to three local closure reasons in the off-topic submenu, and we are using all three. If we want to add a homework/testing close reason, then one of the Research, Single Word Request or Proof Reading closure reasons needs to be deleted. I do not think homework questions are common enough to merit that at this point in time, especially since we decided to accept homework questions sometimes.

However, it should be noted that although homework questions are allowed, they are only allowed conditionally and that we do have standards for homework questions.

We also have three network-wide closure reasons, unclear what you are asking, primarily opinion based and too broad.

For the rarer reasons a post may violate to meet the website's requisites for a post, you should use the other write in option and leave a comment regarding why, preferably with a link to the established policies, and an explanation regarding what might be done to bring the question into compliance with the site's minimal requisites, if even conceivably possible. Leaving a link to the established policy helps others know why they should help you close the question, and they'll see your closure reason in the menu.

A thorough explanation is especially necessary so in these cases since the other closure reason only leaves a generic off-topic message that links to the help center's scope, which does not currently mention our homework standards.

  • @JJJ Not really: The multiple choice tests usually do pertain to one of the subjects specified by the relevant page of our help center: Is this not a "word choice" question?
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 23:11

I can see the problem. The asker types their question, copying it carefully from their test (or whatever) and either:

  • they type it correctly, or
  • they type it incorrectly

Another user sees the question and thinks "Well, there are blatant typos in there". But at this point, it is not clear whether the typos have come from the question itself or from the typing of the question. The asker will not necessarily be able to identify typos in the source material. So, if a VTC is cast, it has to be "Unclear...".

Personally, at this point, I'd add a comment to say:

"There may be typos in your post. Please check it. If there aren't any mistakes in your quoted source text, then there are typos in your source material. Don't worry about it."

It would be nice if this could be automated because this type of question is reasonably regular. I know there's a "needs editing" option on stack exchange, that seems like an appropriate option.

  • 1
    But the other side of the problem is that it is often clear that the tests themselves are poorly designed and written -- often by someone who clearly has a poor understanding of English. Trying make sense of these is a fools errand.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 16:41
  • 1
    @HotLicks, the thing that worries me is that these could be emerging pidgins that we’ll someday accept as "grammatical"! Pity the poor asker who thinks the question is flawed but lacks the necessary experience to say for sure. It might be that the best they can do is provide a searchable (electronic) paper trail so that future victims using the same source can terminate their fools errand early. Maybe we should request source citations for these questions?
    – Pam
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 18:34

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