I had a question about the grammaticality of a specific two-word phrase. The information here explicitly instructs me to use the tag
grammaticality for such questions. But the question was closed because "proofreading questions are off-topic." Five different people appear to have voted to close it so I assume it really is off-topic somehow, which is fine, but I'm at a loss to understand why.
The message does stipulate "unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified," which would give me the impression that it's intended to prevent requests for general proofreading except for the fact that my question involved only two words, the minimum necessary to have a grammatical relationship at all, and that's as specific as one can be. Unless I've misunderstood what's meant by "a specific source of concern?" Perhaps it means that I didn't specifically identify which grammar rules I'm concerned about? But if this is the case it would seem a needlessly burdensome requirement. It would discourage lay people like myself from engaging with the site, which would serve to increase the technicality of the questions but not really their quality. Questions don't have to be esoteric to be high quality. A policy like this would eliminate the possibility of questions from people who don't know what they don't know. E.g., in my case, the most I can say about the phrase is that it's prepositional. I rely on instinct and experience to write and have long since forgotten most of the actual rules. I thought my usage was correct but I wasn't certain and I wanted to know if there was something I didn't know (it turned out there was). If I had to specify which rules I was concerned about and why I was concerned about them I wouldn't be able to ask at all. And if I was able then I probably wouldn't need to. However, this seems unlikely to be the case unless this Exchange is intended only for English professionals.
I read around a bit before posting and gathered that confusion surrounding this closure reason is not uncommon. I have the idea that some mods may be rather indiscriminate in their usage of the "proofreading" tag so perhaps the issue is something else entirely? If this is the case I have to wonder about the wisdom of such a confusing practice. It's led me on a wild goose chase. But even if I disregard the stated reason I still can't come up with a reason why the question would be off-topic. What could be more germane to a forum about English language usage than a question about the proper use of the English language?
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. Hopefully they're helpful. Ultimately, my question elicited exactly the information I wanted. All the respondents understood me perfectly and I got the answer quickly. Personally, I can't imagine a better result or more appropriate use.
Edit: Reading around some more, I've begun to think that this Exchange may in fact be intended for professionals and esoteric questions are preferred. If this is the case then perhaps my question is off-topic because it's too basic? Some of what I've read suggests "is this usage correct" questions are not wanted. If this is so, while it leaves me wondering what a question about grammaticality could be apart from correct usage, I'm happy to put any questions in the appropriate place. It seems there's some disagreement about what kinds of questions are appropriate and where. The "Learners" Exchange doesn't seem like a fit for me as I'm as mastered a layman as you're likely to find but, being a layman, I may not fit here either. My goal is to learn something about English though so perhaps ELL makes sense? I guess it really doesn't matter so long as I know which one to go to though.