There is a recent question

How do I identify a British idiom from an American one?

that has been closed. I am canvassing support for reopening it.

It is a question with way too many parts, many of those subquestions are not just broad but require an encyclopedia, and other subquestions are asking for numbers for vague un-numerable things (percentage of overlap of American and British idioms). And then there is a longish list of individual idioms asked about.

The question is ostensibly very closable.

But I'd like to make a case for reopening it, since (biasedly) I have an answer for all those subquestions (for the broad ones, the answer is generally 'get a book' or an explanation as to why words are hard to count). And then for the individual idioms there actually is a quantitative method to compare them.

I think the 'no answer' answers will be informative to many as to what 'too broad' means. And the answers for the specific idioms will teach people that such comparisons should now almost be considered gen ref.

So I am requesting a couple more reopen votes.

  • Re-opened......
    – ermanen
    Jun 9, 2015 at 16:14
  • Woo hoo! Of course it may yet be closed again.
    – Mitch
    Jun 9, 2015 at 16:32
  • 1
    Cookies for everyone who voted up! And there'll be more for everyone else too.
    – Mitch
    Jun 9, 2015 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


While it's great that you were able to write such an in-depth answer (and it really is a great answer) the question is still too broad, and should be closed if it remains as it is.

This is the part of your answer that's meant to teach the OP about broad questions. Well, I think this is better off as a comment on broad questions, or perhaps in a Meta discussion which you can link them too. If we followed your strategy then we would never close anything as too broad because we would be showing them how broad their questions are through answers... which would not be a healthy change for the site.

This is a terribly broad question. The concept of a word is already slippery, an idiom even moreso, especially with figurative meanings. How many words are there in the English language? There’s no good quantitative assessment of that. ... This task has so much variability and vagueness involved that any kind of percentage estimate will be meaningless.

Next time before canvassing for reopen votes, please edit the question into shape.

I have an edit pending which will hopefully be approved and tighten its scope.

  • I am very aware that the question is unreasonably broad and with multiple sub questions. But ... it is not a stupid question and many sub-q's still have an answer (a negative one). In other words I feel like even though it matches the ostensible criteria for closing, I don't feel like we should discourage such questions (as long as they're answerable).
    – Mitch
    Jun 10, 2015 at 13:02
  • @Mitch I don't think it's a stupid question either, just that it should be split up into appropriately scoped individual questions! Jun 10, 2015 at 14:10
  • In nearly all my questions I have asked more than one piece of information. And I'm not alone. Sometimes users answer just the main questions, other times only the sub-questions. I think it allows a certain freedom, and it keeps the question "alive" longer. I interpret "too broad" meaning that that it will attract too many answers, and that can happen with a post that has only one specific question e.g. "What is a polite way of saying thank you to someone who has very kindly helped you to solve a difficult problem?"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 13, 2015 at 6:36

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