I tried to ask this question on the main site and it was quickly closed. Let me be the first to say that I am sure it deserved to be closed. Most of you know more about the site and its culture than I do, so I trust your judgement. I am here because I want to understand why it was closed and why other similar questions remain open. I also want to explore why the differences were not apparent to me as a new user.
Consider these two questions.
- Is “pidgeon” a correct alternate spelling of “pigeon”? [on hold]
- Is “imbedded” a valid spelling of the word “embedded”?
The following points were presented to me in defense of closing.
General Reference holds that pigeon is the correct spelling.
Multiple correct spellings may exist for a given word. This fails to address the validity of the alternate spelling pidgeon.
"Validity" of alternate spellings is subjective, primarily opinion-based, and off-topic.
Does this not apply to the aforementioned question about imbedded as a correct alternate spelling? The site's Help Center does not discriminate between "primary" and "alternate" spelling questions. It clearly lists spelling questions as On Topic.
I suggest that, after a consensus is reached by the community here, one or more of the following resources be updated by someone more familiar with the site. It is important that new users have the ability to quickly understand what is or is not on-topic, and the best way to do that is with your On Topic FAQ and the wikis for tags (which are essentially "topics").
- On Topic in the Help Center
- Clearly some words are General Reference. Other words are highly subjective, primarily opinion-based, and off-topic. Where do you draw the line? Has it not occurred to anyone that this could be a down vote reason instead of a close vote reason? Your On Topic FAQ lists spelling questions. If specific spelling questions are off-topic, then the FAQ needs a revision.
- The orthography tag
- This seems like the most likely spot. Stack exchanges commonly include examples of good questions and poor questions in the tag wiki. This seems like a perfect opportunity to discriminate between primary spelling questions and alternate spelling questions, if the latter is indeed off-topic.
- The is-it-a-word tag
In short, what key differences between the alternate spelling of pigeon and the alternate spelling of embedded led one to be closed while the other remained open, and how can that best be conveyed to new users entering the site for the first time?