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This question went hot on the network today:

What is a word that means "someone who pretends to be your friend but is actually your enemy?"

Upon visiting it, I found that there are lots of other questions like this.

This one, and the others, suffer from the problem that what is really being asked is "what is a word that means 'a person who...'?"

But the answers are full of words that don't mean that at all, they are simply "names" that could be applied to a person like that.

For example, none of these words, offered as answers, mean "a person who pretends to be your friend but is your enemy":

a'hole d'bag sociopath deceitful con artist traitor disloyal perfidious

So I'm wondering if it is a legitimate edit, to change questions of this nature to "What is a word for a that means a person who... ?"

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    Sounds like a reasonable idea to me. I don't know if your rep allows you to unilaterally apply such an edit, but if not presumably you can propose one. If you'd done that last week, say, and I'd been prompted to approve or reject it (my higher rep means things like that show up in my "review queue"), I might previously have been tempted to reject it as "Too Minor". But you've made a good point here, so if I see any such proposed edits in future I for one will accept them. – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '14 at 12:15
  • (Personally, I'd standardise on plain "Word meaning a person who..." - but as you imply, there are many alternative phrasings which are much better than "What do you call a person who...") – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '14 at 12:19
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Hopefully you won't change it to "What is a word for a that means a person who... ?" because that's not comprehensible. But in general, I think changing "word for a person who..." to "word that describes a person who..." (for instance) doesn't substantially change the intent of the question and could be a valid clarifying edit.

  • I don't think OP was suggesting changing "word for a person who..." to "word that describes a person who...". Unless I misunderstood, the specific issue was "What do you call [such a person]?" - which could easily be interpreted as "How do you address [him]?". That interpretation is more likely to encourage (imho, worthless) answers like "Asshole", which we'd like to discourage. – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '14 at 14:30
  • That would still be a clarifying edit, most likely, and so it would still be valid. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 7 '14 at 14:32
  • Indeed. Though per my original comment, until OP here explained why such an edit might be considered "clarifying", I'd have been tempted to see it as "too minor". Personally, I don't rate the built-in site search facilities here very highly, but I do think standardising on common question types (such as "word1 vs word2", "word meaning xxx", etc.) would slightly improve matters. And that's an additional justification - separate from the "clarifying" one. – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '14 at 15:11

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