Can you please help me understand why What's a word for a 'thing that makes one sleepy'? is a general reference question while "Finance" is to "financial" as "trade" is to what?, for instance, is not? I answered both questions assuming they had no 'generals reference' characteristics, and, especially regarding the former, I don't see how it could be easily answered looking ( which word?) up in the dictionary.

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    You really need to write the question titles in your post, otherwise people will be clicking backwards and forwards, and we all know how tiring that is. :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:00
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    Personally, I think the accepted answer on the "trade" question misses the (potentially On Topic) aspect of the question ("What's the adjectival derivative of trade?"). What it actually does is answer the (Off Topic POB, imho) question "Is there an adjective meaning concerned with trade?" Dec 9, 2014 at 13:41
  • @FumbleFingers - though I may agree with you on this issue, I still don't see the GR problem with the other question. As Matt stated it may have SWR issues, but it actually received 4 close votes as GR!!
    – user66974
    Dec 9, 2014 at 13:45
  • @Josh61: I don't generally think much of trivial SWR's like the "sleepy" one (they reduce ELU to a kind of "human-powered thesaurus"). So I don't have much of a view on whether it was rightly closed. At least the other one could be seen as a question about how English "works" (we can co-opt "trade" as its own adjectival form), even if the OP's acceptance of "mercantile" suggests that wasn't actually the way he saw it. Dec 9, 2014 at 14:25

2 Answers 2


I would suggest that your answer quoted verbatim from a dictionary to What's a word for a 'thing that makes one sleepy'? is proof that it is a general reference question. Plus saying you answered the first question thinking it had no impediment implies you waited for someone to raise an objection, but you answered with soporific only two minutes after the question had been posted. The speed in which you replied is possibly an indication that it was a GR question. This doesn't take way the fact it was a good answer.

As for the second question, Finance” is to “financial” as “trade” is to what? The accepted answer was given by a mod, so presumably that person recognizes when a question is on topic or off topic.

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    No, I didn't expect anyone to raise any objection, and I was surprised when the first 'close vote' was posted. The question was also protected by Mod. Kit Fox after it had received 4 'close vote'. A quick answer doesn't necessarily imply a GR question!!
    – user66974
    Dec 9, 2014 at 7:51
  • The question was protected presumably because it was receiving "silly" and obviously "wrong/poor" replies. It doesn't mean the person who protects the question thinks it is immune or untouchable. You have enough rep to protect questions yourself, and to close-vote a question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 9, 2014 at 7:55
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    @Josh61 - That's true, but a quick answer from a dictionary makes the question highly suspect for GR. Perhaps the OP had some impediment to finding it in the dictionary, but since they provided no evidence of any attempt at research, we'll never know.
    – Lynn
    Dec 12, 2014 at 5:22
  • My googling 'What's a word for a "thing that makes one sleepy"' gives 10 results, mainly here and at how360.org/english-language. Probably, neither was available before November. Surely the spirit behind "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic" is not 'so you ought to read AHDEL, Collins, Wikipedia ... from cover to cover before you have the temerity to post a question on ELU'. I'm fairly sure that "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic" used to contain 'easily' and 'a single link to'; they're necessary. Dec 18, 2014 at 6:13

Others voted for GR, but I cannot explain their votes.

I closed What's a word for a 'thing that makes one sleepy'? because it is a bad question.

It fails the basic single-word request checks:

Question Checklist

Before making a single-word request, ask yourself the following questions (taken from this meta topic about good request questions):

  • Does the question describe exactly in what context you want to use a single word?
  • Does the question specify the criteria for which the suggested word will be accepted?
  • Does the question list which words you didn't like?
  • Does the question show that you searched for a suitable word before asking the question?

The answer to all those questions is "no", as far as I can see.

As to the other question: I hadn't seen it before, but I have closed it now.

  • I honestly don't like getting involved in politics, so this will be my only observation, and then I will bow out of the conversation: there was no reason to close the "mercantile" question. Can you reopen it please? The question and its answers are highly upvoted, which means people found value in it. It also indicates that maybe "mercantile" is a good solution to a non-trivial, non-obvious, and (hence) non-GR problem.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 9, 2014 at 12:23
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    @DanBron I did not close it because it is general reference. I closed it because it does not fit with how single word requests should be asked (I'd almost give it one out of four, but I can't quite discern the criteria). See my answer for specifics. If you do not like the requirements for SWRs please post a meta question detailing your objections and what changes you would like to see. Dec 9, 2014 at 12:33
  • @DanBron Or, if you prefer, feel free to edit the question so that it fits within the guidelines. Dec 9, 2014 at 18:23

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