I am referring to my question here.

Within minutes of posting the question it was closed, and I am still confused about why. There are the comments:

Maybe it's me, but I don't see the question about English? – Alenanno


This is a linguistics question, but not an English question. If you'd like a Q&A site for such questions, I recommend supporting the proposal for linguistics.SE. – Kosmonaut♦

To which I replied:

@Alenanno Sorry to see the downvote(s). The question is, what are the definitions of first, second, third person? How are these definitions applied to games? This is a question about the definition of words in English. The video games stuff is just the motivation for the question. Is this off-topic? @Kosmonaut I just looked at the Area51 site for linguistics.SE and see that "what is the meaning of [word] in [language]?" is a "great example of an off-topic question". That is the heart of my question here, it's just a dictionary didn't quite cut it for me.

The conversation continued a little more between Alenanno and myself.

I am not happy with the way that my question was dealt with. I still do not understand why it was deleted. Indeed, in another question on meta, a moderator states "really has little relevance to a site for questions asked by "linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts". I do not really care to make a big deal out of the "linguistics is on or off-topic" issue, because as I said in my reply to Kosmonaut, the site for linguistics.SE has the core of this question as a specific off-topic example.

I believe my question is very much related to the usage and meaning of words in the English language, and feel quite unhappy at having my question closed without any attempt to ask for improvements (as I have seen done on many other SE sites) or even giving the asker the opportunity to edit. I do not understand why it was dealt with in this off-hand fashion. If my question was unclear, then I could have edited it to make it better. If my question was off-topic, and it was closed as such, is the discussion of the definition of words and concepts in the English language off-topic? Because I see plenty of those questions open. Even one of the questions which I answered was on the usage and meaning of "gearing up". How is this any different at all to my question?

I feel such incidents set a poor precedent for future unfortunate closures of questions.

  • 2
    Just a minor point: the question is not deleted. It is still up, can be edited and even reopened (in fact there is one reopen vote already). A deleted question looks like this.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 7, 2011 at 11:18
  • @RegDwight Thanks, I didn't know. I assumed that since it wasn't on my list of "questions" in my user profile that it was deleted. I'll edit this question now. I'm still happy to edit the original question to be more acceptable if there are any suggestions. Apr 7, 2011 at 11:57
  • 1
    you should be able to see it on your user profile just fine (but not on your meta profile). Otherwise it's a bug.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 7, 2011 at 12:01
  • @RegDwight Right you are, I was looking at my meta profile. How embarrassing! Thanks. Apr 7, 2011 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


I was not involved in closing the question but I actually agreed with the decision. My opinion can be summarized as such: (a) "interactive media" is off-topic (b) perspective in interactive media is even more so (c) the question was not clear (d) the clarifications of the question did not help.

When I read the question I cannot find a question about the English language. Your clarification seems to ask for a definition of three terms but you said you already checked the dictionary and... then what? They didn't do it for you? What does that mean? The dictionary will tell you what those terms mean. If you need clarification on the definition it would probably be better to actually ask that question. As it is, I took the question to be asking a technical question about interactive media. To which it seems you should go find the experts on interactive media and ask them the question.

As far as the way your question was dealt with, someone asked for a clarification and you gave one. The person who asked for a clarification needed another clarification and even your meta question here still hasn't told us why the question relates to the English language. At the time of my answer here, the question is at -2 and a moderator has given you an explanation in the form of a comment. In addition, the only answer to the question answers what all of us thought the question was asking but you responded by saying it wasn't actually answering the question.

So... what are you asking? And why does it matter to the English language?

  • My question can summarised as: "What is the definition of first/second/third person perspective in the context of interactive media?" I just tried to provide more details and some motivation for the question, as well as my own attempts to understand it. I believed this would improve the question. I am sorry if such things make the question unclear; they can always be fixed however. When I looked in a dictionary, it gave me the definition of these terms in relation to a term in a sentence. From this I can extrapolate several possibilities, one of which I gave in the question. (contd) Apr 7, 2011 at 14:57
  • @MrHen However, I am after a "correct" definition of these terms in this context, and as I know that dictionaries are not as good as experts, I came here. I know that interactive media as a topic is off-topic, but is it off-topic to ask about the definition of a term in some context other than that most often encountered? It seems to me that context is quite important when asking a question about word definitions, and from my short stay here I have seen people take this into account when answering such questions. Programming is off-topic here, but the "gearing up" question is specifically Apr 7, 2011 at 15:00
  • written in the context of programmers. It may very well be the case that the meaning of the term changes depending on context. I don't see that question being closed just because programming is off-topic. Apr 7, 2011 at 15:01
  • @Glen: You provide good points. Again, I can only hypothesize but I guess this is the point to look at: "as I know that dictionaries are not as good as experts, I came here." You came to experts on the use as it relates to the English language and its usage. A technical expert may be more suited to answer your particular question. The topic relevance here is not as simple as "it is a word; therefore it is on topic." E.g., questions about math definitions get moved to Math.SE. Your question is very much a close call either way; I suspect that the tipping point was focusing so much on media.
    – MrHen
    Apr 7, 2011 at 15:26
  • @MrHen I see it as a concept from English language (grammar in particular) applied in another context. So an expert on English language seemed appropriate. I didn't respond earlier to the "how the question was handled" part, but I will just mention that if my question is indeed borderline (as I am starting to learn) then perhaps it would have been better to give me suggestions on how to edit it to fit better into this site instead of closing it so fast. I replied to the feedback I received in the comments but I don't see that exchange as very satisfactory--I was not satisfied at least. Apr 7, 2011 at 15:48
  • (by the way, the original question has now been edited) Apr 7, 2011 at 15:53
  • @Glen: What were you expecting in regards to feedback? What would have made you satisfied?
    – MrHen
    Apr 7, 2011 at 15:59
  • Ah, yes, this edit is a much better phrasing of the question.
    – MrHen
    Apr 7, 2011 at 16:01
  • @MrHen The edit makes the question more broad, but otherwise is very welcome. Apr 7, 2011 at 16:14
  • @MrHen I was hoping for a clearer explanation of why my question was to be closed. About what is and what is not on-topic for this site, I could see that my question did not fit on the proposed linguistics.SE (as I mentioned), and I could also see several other questions very similar to my question (in principle). I would have been satisfied if the position of the people voting to close was made clear. In some cases it is painfully obvious why a question should be closed but feel that here this was not the case. I have no intention of going against site policy, or being disruptive. Apr 7, 2011 at 16:20
  • I was confused, bemused, and stupefied at what happenned to my question, because I honestly tried to write something good, interesting, and on-topic. If I am to contribute in the future, it is important for me to know these things! This is the precedent I'm thinking of---better to help the misguided confused (but eager) new user, than leave them to take it to meta. Apr 7, 2011 at 16:21
  • 1
    @Glen: I guess I don't know what else you felt was needed. As a mildly interested third party, I felt you were treated fairly. The short version: You were asked why this was on-topic and were unable to provide a convincing reason. The position of the closers is, "This is off-topic" and is stated blatantly as the closing reason. I am sorry if you feel bewildered or offended; I just don't understand what you were expecting. You didn't break site policy or do anything wrong; the question was just outside the scope of the site.
    – MrHen
    Apr 7, 2011 at 16:43

I've just seen this question and several hours passed already, but since I've been mentioned, I'd like to say something.

Like MrHen said, and like I said through a comment under that question, the problem was that inside your "topic", I couldn't found a question related to English usage or English grammar, syntax, etc.

I don't wanna repeat the same things over and over, because they have been said already and I think you understood. You said you were not happy about how the closing-question was dealt with, but as you see there is support and people are going to be here for explanations and help. The Meta section is here in order to avoid "polluting" the other section with non-strictly English usage related question.

  • Yes, I think I've articulated my position well enough. What do you think of the edited version of the question? Is it on or off topic? Apr 7, 2011 at 19:32
  • Considering the reply by Kosmonaut, I'd say it seems on-topic. :)
    – Alenanno
    Apr 7, 2011 at 21:21

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