Related: What process is required to get the Help Center text changed? | Proof reading questions | Does the "proofreading" close reason cover questions that do identify specific words or phrases? | What the "proofreading" close reason is for
The Help text advising against proof-reading questions currently reads
But please, don’t ask any questions about the following topics. They are out of scope for this site.
- Proofreading ("Is this right?", "Are there any mistakes?"), unless the source of concern is clearly specified
There have been a number of attempts to "clearly specify" the source of the concern in questions, such as
- Explicitly asking "Does this sound right?"
- Including "(verb)" in the question title
- Asking "Have I used the right verb?"
But none of those are what I believe "clearly specified" was intended to achieve.
- "Does this sound right?" is inherently opinion-based, as both "Yes" and "No" answers are possible, and even justifiable.
- Simply including "(verb)" in the question title doesn't say anything about the answer which is actually needed in the circumstances, quite apart from being unduly abrupt and demanding.
- We can't say whether the right verb has been used, because there is no context to describe what the sentence is attempting to say.
I believe the clear specification required is to say what the actual doubt is: to state
- which particular word is in question;
- what might be wrong about it and
- why it might be wrong.
That is, not
Is the verb right in "He has run the company for five years now"?
but something like
He has run the company for five years now.
Is the verb has run correct here? If "he" is still in post, the action is still in progress, so should the verb be a continuous/progressive verb like He has been running? Does the inclusion of "now" make a difference here?
It seems to me that the Help text could be altered to make that clear. While it is unlikely to stem the tide of proofreading questions, it does mean that the "Proof-reading" close reason could be amended to point to the Help page, which it currently doesn't:
Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified.
So, how should the Help page be amended in order to help here?
I've provided an answer which you're able to vote on; other answers about the proof-reading help we offer are welcome, too.