On StackOverflow proper, one of the possibilities offered for an off-topic close reason is that it’s a simple typographical error.

typo close reason

Although the no-repro part doesn’t apply to ELU, we do have quite a lot of answers suggesting that the question was about a misunderstood typo.

Of what general use to future visitors is unravelling a one-shot typo situation for just one poster? Doesn’t the same apply here?

  • 3
    why was 'too local' gotten rid of? That would fit for this.
    – Mitch
    Jan 13, 2014 at 1:34
  • 2
    When we are asked about usages or spellings which don't exist in the English language, "can't be reproduced" makes perfect sense to me. Sorry, I can't find that word in any of my dictionaries.
    – MetaEd
    Jan 13, 2014 at 15:49
  • 1
    @Mitch There was a lot of confusion over "localized" and "too localized" esp. with regard to, for instance, dialects.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Jan 13, 2014 at 18:49
  • "Too localized" was replaced by more specific close reasons at three levels: systemwide, sitewide, and custom. This occurred across the Stack Exchange system, not just on ELU.
    – MetaEd
    Jan 13, 2014 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


Yes. More generally I think it's a good idea to create a sitewide close reason whenever we find that we're having to create the same custom close reason (Off Topic + Other) over and over again.

The proposed close reason can be slightly expanded to cover analogous situations where a person asks an English related question arising from an error or misunderstanding, and where the answer is unlikely to be of interest to anybody but the OP. What I have in mind is covered by the description of the #errors tag:

Questions arising from error (real or perceived): solecism, malapropism, mondegreens, eggcorns, disputed usages, so-called "corruption", folk etymologies, but also requests for interpretation when the text in question arguably contains an error, and questions which stem from a misunderstanding. Do not use when an error has not been made: for example, "which is correct" questions arise from uncertainty, not error.

Obviously some questions about such things are of general interest and I do not mean all such questions should be closed! Only questions which rest upon such an error and are too unlikely to help future readers should be closed.

Proposed close reason

This question rests upon a typographical, grammatical, or logical error or similar misunderstanding either in the question or in the text being asked about. While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one is unlikely to help future readers. This can often be avoided by consulting a good dictionary or searching within written works before posting.

  • 3
    I would reword "grammatical error", I think you'd be opening a can of worms with that justification. I know what you mean, but sometimes "grammatical errors" are only variations of dialects or slang terms. There are users who have earned the right to close posts, whose opinions I have disagreed with. As I'm sure there are many who have disagreed with mine. With the excuse that something is evidently a grammatical error, you'd increase twofold the number of close votes.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 13, 2014 at 22:49
  • Whilst I agree with Mari-Lou that 'Grammatical error' is a poor reason why a question does not belong on a site called 'English Language & Usage', I see no reason why doubling the number of closevotes should be self-evidently a bad thing. Jan 13, 2014 at 22:59
  • @Mari-LouA As written, the proposed close reason doesn't say posts would be closed for grammatical errors. It says posts would be closed when the question rests upon a grammatical error by the OP, or in the OP's sample text, such that the answer is unlikely to help future readers. That's a critical part of the close reason and I think it addresses your concern.
    – MetaEd
    Jan 13, 2014 at 23:42
  • @TimLymington I might agree there are many questions of too broad a nature, but they should be migrated to ELL, not all of them, but many. Furthermore, they aren't usually grammar errors but instead they tend to ask whether one form is "more correct" over another. There is a case for bringing back "too localized". There must be a way of renaming it in such a way that it is clear and unambiguous. To me systemwide, sitewide, and custom sounds like jargon.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 13, 2014 at 23:56
  • @mari-lou-a I am unsure what your suggestion is. Those "jargon" terms do not appear anywhere in my answer, much less in the proposed close reason.
    – MetaEd
    Jan 14, 2014 at 2:06
  • I was really talking to Tim Lymington, only now do I realize I've misunderstood the meaning of those terms, so please forgive me.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 14, 2014 at 2:35

A questioner asked about whether to use dispirit or dispirited. It turns out the word he was thinking of was disparate. I can absolutely imagine someone else making exactly the same mistake in the future. This is therefore clearly a helpful question, and it deserves a helpful answer. Instead, the questioner was corrected in comments and the question was closed as "off-topic," and now no one can add a real answer that explains the error the questioner made. Explain to me how this makes the world a better place.

The question should be reopened, answered, and then protected.

  • 1
    I was the one who pointed out that he was probably confusing dispirit for disparate. I included a link to a dictionary definition. The OP was quite satisfied with that response ("You were very helpful...") I helped him solve a problem which is unlikely to be repeated often. I think that makes the world a better place. Your disagreement with that is that this was insufficiently explained? Jan 18, 2014 at 1:53
  • 1
    @Susan: I agree with phenry. The trouble is that this site may end up ranking better than ELL in Google, and attract traffic from non-native English-speakers. Jan 19, 2014 at 20:52
  • @Susan - My disagreement is that this is a question with merit but no recorded answer. The fact that the question was answered in a comment may have helped the asker, but is likely to be overlooked by others who come here from Google with the same or a similar question. Where there should be an answer, there is a box that rudely describes the question as "off-topic." I have no problem protecting the question after it is answered, but let's have the decency to at least supply the answer in the proper way first.
    – phenry
    Jan 20, 2014 at 16:57
  • 1
    I don't know what happens to questions on hold, so there is that problem. However, he was not treated rudely, but decently. His question was off topic, but he was answered, the problem resolved, and he left a happy camper. Others with the same problem need only to check the link to find the same info. And unlike you, I am not supremely confidant that many if any will make the same mistake; It's the first time I've ever seen it, ans a search of our questions finds no prior similar problem. Jan 20, 2014 at 18:37
  • "dispirit treatment"; "dispirit impact". It's uncommon, but hardly unheard of; misusers include newspapers and a state Supreme Court transcript. And "dispirit" is an actual word, so typing it into Google alone doesn't produce a "did you mean" correction.
    – phenry
    Jan 20, 2014 at 18:52
  • 2
    I find your answer to be irrelevant to the issue. Jan 21, 2014 at 7:10
  • 1
    Note that the Community Bot deleted the dispirit/dispirited/disparate question at issue here eight years ago, meaning that no one who happens to have a similar question/misunderstanding of the correct word will find any trace of the original question, the helpful comment, or anything else associated with it—unless they happen to visit this Meta question first.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 7, 2023 at 1:37

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