The following topics are off-topic by definition of the help center:

  • Proofreading ("Is this right?", "Are there any mistakes?"), unless the source of concern is clearly specified
  • Writing advice (see Writers.SE instead) or critique requests "How to improve my English?" (this is not constructive anyway)
  • Translation and non-English languages — please see the translation tag info for details
  • Naming, including naming programming variables/classes
  • Criticism, discussion, and analysis of English literature
  • Jokes that do not rely on the English language

Yet there is only the off-topic flag for proofreading, not for the other ones, which only leaves blatantly off-topic. Although that is not really true either most of the times.

In my opinion these six points as defined in the help center should be available as flagging options. It reduces both the time the moderator reviewing the flag (I guess) as well as the time the person who flags needs to decide. I know that that problem disappears for people who can actually vote to close, but for us lowly <3k rep users that would be a valuable addition.

The same idea has already been floated a few years ago but without any real responses.

If this is still not wanted I am interesting what one should flag those questions with? Are they all blatantly off-topic although the certainly have something to do with the English language, just not in the scope of this site?

Do I pick something more or less at random from the other reasons? Do I just ignore it and leave it for people with the reputation to close right away?

  • Isn't P.O.B. close enough to Lit. Crit? I think Lit. Crit. is off topic for many of the same reasons as P.O.B., so we probably don't need both very often. Also if a literary analysis question isn't P.O.B., what makes it different from a topical question, like meaning-in-context or rhetoric question? Also we have a "better suited to another site on the S.E. Network" close reason, although we don't currently link to Writers S.E. if I recall correctly.
    – Tonepoet
    Aug 10, 2016 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


There's a limit to the number of custom close reasons, so we have to choose which are the most frequent. Writing advice is much less common than proofreading requests, for example, so proofreading requests get the custom close reason. When someone asks a writing advice question then we can always give a manual close reason.

  • 2
    So there's a technical limitation in the SE site that prohibits ELU from offering all those options? If so, how high is that limit? Is it already reached? Could at least some be included?
    – Helmar
    Aug 10, 2016 at 14:38
  • 1
    @Helmar I think it's three, possibly four. Most sites only have three. It might be that you can ask for special permission to have a fourth. Aug 10, 2016 at 14:40
  • Damn :( So what flag to use? I am all over the place and all options have seemingly been deemed helpful.
    – Helmar
    Aug 10, 2016 at 14:44
  • If you're flagging, use the one which fits best, or completely off-topic. Feel free to also leave a comment. Those with 3000 rep who can cast close votes can then write manual close reasons. Aug 10, 2016 at 14:46
  • Why would anyone downvote this answer? I'm just presenting the facts! Aug 10, 2016 at 23:36
  • I certainly didn't. It's not satisfying, but that's not the answers problem.
    – Helmar
    Aug 11, 2016 at 7:31
  • 1
    It seems that the Proofreading flag could be modified to include some of the other reasons, i.e. "Proofreading[, writing advice, literature or joke analysis, and similar requests are] <strike>is</strike> off topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified." (I might be wrong about the current exact wording, as I got this from a screen shot of the flags in a related question, but that's the general idea.)
    – 1006a
    Aug 11, 2016 at 22:14

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