It has come up in other threads that we have a lot of "basic" or "lowest common denominator" questions. However, a few myths about this need to be put to rest.
First, we do have a general reference close reason, and we do use it. Questions which really are as basic as they seem can be closed, and should be closed.
However, there are a lot of "basic" questions which, under the covers, turn out to be linguistically interesting and involve subtleties which are invisible to native speakers. As a native speaker with decent writing or speaking skills, you may do things "automatically" which turn out to be extremely difficult to explain or rationalize. Elucidating what native speakers do by instinct is in fact very challenging, and a good explanation is a huge benefit to people attempting to learn the language. It makes the internet a better place for us to answer these questions.
- "I would have never said" vs. "I would never say"
- Difference between "are you done" and "have you done."
- Which is more correct here: "find" vs. "have found"?
- Is there a rule in preposition-using?
If you're a native speaker without any linguistic training, the answer to all of these questions may be obvious. But to a linguist or a language learner, these are all difficult and interesting problems! To paraphrase something Kit said in chat, the kind of person who says "I don't see what's so hard about..." is the person who shouldn't be in charge. If you are, say, the sort of person who scores in the 99th percentile on your GMATs, you may be the last person who can accurately gauge the difficulty and relevance of questions like these.
So we should make a few things clear in our FAQ and site definition:
- Questions by language learners are on-topic.
- Questions that are covered by all standard reference sources should be closed as general reference.
- But questions that are obvious to native speakers are not necessarily general reference, and often are interesting and useful to learners and linguists both.
Point #3 brings up a kind of Catch-22: learners may not know whether their question is general reference without asking it. I propose that we as a community accept this ambiguity, and answer questions where the answers are difficult, and politely closing those questions which can be answered by any dictionary.