A poster asked the question Retriable or retryable? on February 9, 2016. It was closed for lack of research on February 15 of that year. On November 9, site participant sumelic edited the question to include a bit of research; but on November 14, three other site users deleted the question altogether. (As far as I can tell, deletions occur on EL&U without explanation.) The original question had received 8 upvotes, and attracted two answers (one by me) that had also received upvotes.

Today a poster has just asked Which spelling is preferred: “retriable” or “retryable”? The question is essentially a duplicate of the earlier one, but has problems of its own: the poster gives an example of how he would use the word (which would be good enough for an SWR question) but shows no research into the question (which I believe is required for questions of this kind). Site participant FumbleFingers points out the original question (visible only to users with 10,000+ reputation) in a comment beneath the probable duplicate question.

To me, the decision to delete the earlier question is unaccountable. Eight people thought the original question was worth upvoting, and sumelic's edit of the closed question seems to have removed the basis for its closure. But even if it should have remained closed, I don't see why it was deleted. The latest question shows continuing independent interest in the question the earlier question raised, and it seems to me that the only thing we've accomplished by deleting the original question is to leave site visitors with no guidance on the substance of the question—and of course, to set up another questioner to have his question closed for failing to jump through the necessary hoops to have his post qualify as a legitimate question.

I ask site participants who have the power to vote to undelete deleted questions to consider voting to undelete and reopen the original "Retriable or retryable?" question. Thanks!

  • 2
    I promise I will post an answer tomorrow, but (1) the number of upvotes on ELU means nothing. I can give you the most recent question as an example where a wrong or misleading answer received the most upvotes, (2) the question is easily researchable and the answer is that's the way it is (3) Are there rules in English that govern that specific orthography other than we spell "reliable" rather than "relyable", "suppliable" rather than "supplyable"? How about "cryable"? I mean I think "retryable" and "retriable" both can work fine. It's either "lack of research" or "primarily opinion-based".
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 21:06
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    @Rathony: Your comment indicates why you think the question should be closed: "lack of research," or (if sumelic's edit renders that close reason inapplicable) "primarily opinion based." The bulk of my question here, however, is about why the original "Retriable or retryable?" question was deleted and whether it should remain deleted. If it had been closed as "POB" but left undeleted, we could instantly have closed the new question as a duplicate. But because the original was deleted, we're back to square one with the new question. I hope you will address this problem in your answer tomorrow.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 21:23
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    I don't understand why you think you should close the new question as duplicate of the deleted question instead of closing it as lack of research or primarily opinion-based. The new question is off-topic, too. ELU doesn't need such a question as the question doesn't show any self-research effort. Is it really difficult to research on the internet or in the dictionary? I think @Doug Warren answered the question. We can close the question as lack of research and move on.
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 21:29
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    The question is hereby undeleted. Now for it to be reopened, that will require even more effort...we have a mob rule of 5 random people on this site that can close anything, and reopening is far harder, what with low view counts on older posts. So good luck. Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 21:41
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    @Cerberus What do you think about the rule that one moderator can close/reopen/delete/undelete everything? If you call 5 random people closing a question a mob rule, I wonder what you would call one person closing a question. I disagree with your statement that reopening is far harder. Is there any question that has not been reopened based on a Meta request? It seems reopening a question is far easier. BTW, why does ELU need guidelines and close-votes in the first place? Propose on Meta SE if you want to get rid of this mob rule. I will upvote your proposal.
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 6:20
  • @Rathony If a question is a duplicate, that trumps other closure reasons like lack of research or POB. The whole point of duping questions is to allow people to find the right (or rightest available) question through various different kinds of searches: even if you search for something that leads you only to a bad question, there will be a link to a better question with better answers right at the top. That is lost if we close dupes as POB or lack of research. Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


Is it "marriable" or "marryable"? Is it "hillariable" or "hillaryable"?

I find two issues on this type of question.

(1) As you indicated in your answer,

it's impossible to say that one spelling is correct and the other is incorrect

which means we can't tell which one is correct. Also, it can be changed as time goes by. @Josh answered,

Retryable is the more correct spelling

But the linked Ngram Viewer seems to indicate "retriable" was used far more often than "retryable" at the end of 20th century. It may change in years to come. Nobody knows.

(2) Whether to use "retriable" or "retryable" should be researched on the internet as there is no answer to that question. English Language and Usage (ELU) users don't have any objective and definitive way to tell users which one is more appropriate in what context. When a question reads "Which spelling is the correct one?" the answer should be "You decide it because you will have the consequences. Not a bunch of strangers on the internet because we don't know which is correct."

There seems to be no dictionary that lists both words. I believe a question asking about correct spelling between two relatively new words should be closed as lack of research or primarily opinion-based. The linked checklist on Stack Overflow says:

If you went from "something's not working" to "asking a question" in less than 10 minutes, you probably haven't done enough research.

(emphasis mine)

I am not proposing ELU should apply the 10-minute guideline on ELU. But ELU should focus on answerable questions, not unanswerable questions which can't be answered definitively with supporting research and references. ELU should focus on building library of helpful and definitive questions and answers.

Note: Since the question has been reopened, I will move on.

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    I agree that more research is always a good idea. That said, how would one know there's no answer to a question unless they ask the question? The crux of closing and deleting should not be: Is there a definitive answer to this question? Instead, it should be: Is this the kind of question that invites researched and definitive answers? If, in the end, it turns out there is no clear-cut either/or answer, that doesn't mean the question has "no answer" – it means that is the answer to the question.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 16:00
  • I ran a quick Google Books search on marryable vs. marriable vs. marriageable vs. marriagable for the period 1800–2008, and got this Ngram graph, from which it appears that marriageable is the standard word choice, marriable and marriagable are marginal variants, and marryable is so rare as not to track on the graph...
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 18:44
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    ...You may not share my assessment of the significance of the Ngram graph, but I think it goes a reasonable way toward providing an objective answer to a sincere question of the form, “Is it marriable or marryable?” I wouldn’t make a similar assertion about hillariable vs. hillaryable, but I think retriable vs. retryable is closer to marriable vs. marryable than to the Hillary-based words.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 18:44
  • @SvenYargs My whole point is if someone asks "Which should I use between marriable and marryable or marrigable and marrigeable?", the question should be closed. Hillary-based words were invented by myself, but it seems they are used in some context. Anyway, as you mentioned, finding "marrigeable" is the standard word is not difficult if you spend some time (less than 10 minutes) on the internet. That's the point. As "Marryable" is so rare, "retryable" should be rare, too as "supplyable" and "applyable". The Q asking about "retryable" and "retriable" is researchable. Retry has two syllables.
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 19:37
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    @Sven - Excellent example. Not everything in language is cut-and-dried, and some questions about grey areas are both useful and interesting.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 22:03

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