In this question, the person is simply asking "what is wrong with this sentence"? It is not a question about a specific aspect of the sentence, and I am wondering if people think this should qualify as an off-topic proofreading question or not.

We've discussed that "proofread my document" questions are off-topic, but I wonder if people feel the same way about single-sentence "what's wrong" questions.

Personally, I don't want to see a flood of these types of questions.

  • 1
    I must admit that I was going to vote to close, but then I got confused by my very own reasoning here, to which I was going to link. There, I argued that "is there anything wrong" questions are off-topic, but the OP actually asks "what is wrong", which is arguably not the same thing (it appears that he's been told already that something is wrong, but doesn't want to mention what exactly, so as to get unbiased opinions). That being said, the question is poor, and I don't want it to set a precedent.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 18:11

4 Answers 4


Since I do not know what exactly was behind the creation of this rule, I can only consider two things - its literal wording, and common sense.

It is phrased as something like "could you proofread this sentence?", so that I can only conclude that the question conflicts with the letter of this rule.

As for common sense, I feel that "proofreading" should normally apply only to longer texts, at the very least a paragraph. I suspect that the background of this question is that it is annoying to function as a proofreading facility for writers who cannot afford a paid service. I know that kind of request from other forums, and it can be annoying. But a single sentence does not bother me. In addition, forbidding this would cut the theme of this website into a somewhat irregular shape: grammar yes, but not checking grammar in a sentence unless specified beforehand; word usage, ditto.

Because correcting a single sentence is not a lot of work, does not yet present a problem of clutter, fits in with others kinds of questions here, and can actually provide an interesting stimulus, I vote to allow it.

I am a liberal, and I do not believe in making rules unless there is strong enough evidence that problems will arise without those rules. So far there seems to be no problem. The rules can always be changed if this becomes one. However, it could be argued that I do not know enough about the background of the SE framework to judge.

P.S. There are already plenty of questions that I do not particularly like answering, such as "what adjective to use to express phrase X?" or "where does saying Y come from?". But there are many others who appear to like answering those.


I would say that the question would need to be expanded to give some context. As @RegDwight pointed in his comment, it seems that the OP were already aware that there were something wrong with the sentence. But would this assumption be wrong, then it would be definitely off-topic.


The proofreading questions I vote to close are more like: "Is there a better way to word this" or "Is this a good sentence". The sample question about "although" could probably have been worded in a way to make it a little more specific / constructive, but fundamentally it feels on-topic to me. Seems like it's asking more about the use of "although" in general than about how to tweak the wording of that particular sentence.

But it's all incredibly subjective.


Technically it could not be proof-reading, and there surely are other questions I don't like answering. I admit that I have also asked questions about sentences I thought not correct (even though I didn't express my judgement to not influence who answered), and most all the sentences I asked for contained an error, or they could have better expressed in a different way.

This situation reminds me of what happened on Programmers, which was accepting every subjective questions (if they are not subjective, then they should be asked on Stack Overflow), but then introduced a limit requiring the questions to be constructive. By the definition they gave to constructive questions, they must:

  • inspire answers that explain "why" and "how"
  • tend to have long, not short, answers
  • // ...
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • // ...

In our case that would mean that a question asking if a sentence is correct, and to which one could also reply with a "yes", is not enough constructive.
If the question would ask about between two different way to write a sentence, or would compare two different sentences, or simply would contain an explanation why the OP finds the sentence correct or not, the question would inspire answers that explain both why and how.

What I don't like in those questions is the fact the question title is the same for more questions or it is too generic.
The fact the user keeps to use almost the same title for consecutive questions suggest me that for the OP the question he is asking are related to each other, like if the OP would be ask about sentences he find in the same text. The fact the OP doesn't use a title more specific for the questions seems to me as if the OP didn't take too much effort in asking the question; we all could have used titles such as "Am I correct?," "Is this correct?," or "Truth or phantasy?" for each question.

I understand the fact to be worried about such questions. I would be personally more tolerant about questions that can easily be answered looking at a dictionary, rather than to questions about the correctness of a full sentence.
It's my personal opinion, indeed, and these are my two cents. (By the way, why do we say "my two cents?")


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