Why was the question about origin and meaning of "rackers" closed as basic?

Not only I was surprised in this choice, but other ELU' member ("asking for an explanation of a line of Shakespeare is just as on-topic as asking to 'explicate'a newspaper editorial. (Admittedly, there are other reasons to be uneasy about this question."), too.

  • I voted to close the original question because "rackers" (people who rack/torture) was Shakespeare's poetic/metaphoric usage (torturers of orthography/spelling) over four centuries ago, and there have probably been few if any related usages ever since. I don't particularly mind ELU addressing metaphoric usages in current newspaper articles (that might be repeated, and which native speakers would normally understand). But one-off Shakespearean usages that haven't become well-known to later generations seem to me to be well and truly off-topic (basically, they're Lit. Crit.) Apr 14, 2012 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


The question was closed as "general reference" because, at least as written, you were asking us to do the job of a dictionary.

The good news is, it would be easy to improve the question so that it could be reopened:

  • Look up the word in a dictionary or two or three, and add the information you find there into the question.

  • Describe why the dictionary definition doesn't help you to make sense of the quotation.

  • Tell us exactly what the quotation is from. (Hint: it's not actually from any historical person named Holofernes.)

  • As the "other ELU member", I entirely agree with this. But one unfortunate feature of the system is that two close votes for one reason, and three for another, will close the question even though the two voters disagree with the three on both topics. I think, though, Carlo has got his answer (particularly since the question has been re-opened) Apr 16, 2012 at 13:02

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