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In this post this is a closure flow chart:

closure for questions about (a) differences or etymology, (b) meaning, and (c) translation

I don't understand the purpose of the step "Does the asker explain why a dictionary did not help?" Here's the logic table:

                                     Does the asker explain why a dictionary did not help?
                                       YES:                         NO:
Do you expect that
a simple look-up in       YES:         leave open                   close (general reference)
any dictionary suffices
to answer the question?    NO:         leave open                   leave open

If we get rid of the step "Does the asker explain why a dictionary did not help?":

same flow chart as above, with the step "Does the asker explain why a dictionary did not help?" removed

                                     Does the asker explain why a dictionary did not help?
                                       YES:                         NO:
Do you expect that
a simple look-up in       YES:         close (general reference)    close (general reference)
any dictionary suffices
to answer the question?    NO:         leave open                   leave open

So this extra step only changes the outcome when:

  • Does the asker explain why a dictionary did not help? Yes.
  • Do you expect that a simple look-up in any dictionary suffices to answer the question? Yes.

With the unmodified flow chart, the result is "leave open". With the modified flow chart, the result is "close (general reference)".

Question: Why is there a "Does the asker explain why a dictionary did not help?" step in the closure flow chart?

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I see your point that this step feels superfluous: If the asker explained why a dictionary did not help, how can we expect that a simple look-up in a dictionary would not answer the question?

Let’s first assume that the answer is never (per definition of what exactly we mean by simple look-up in a dictionary). Then the extra step does not change the outcome, but only makes the decision process easier and clearer, as the first step is the straightforward important one and the second step features the exception and is more difficult on account of being a judgement call.

The two-step process also covers any disagreement on the above never. For example, suppose the asker failed to find a word in an appropriate dictionary and documents this in their question. Now a close reviewer finds the word in a different dictionary, and concludes that a simple dictionary look-up solves the problem and thus votes to close. We agreed that we do not want to close such questions since it would be ridiculous to require the asker to consult every conceivable dictionary. Your one-step alternative superficially allows for this closure, unless we specifically clarify simple look-up in a dictionary respectively. The two-step process clearly forbids this closure: Explaining why a dictionary did not help should be a sure-fire way for askers to avoid closure (at least for general reference). Voting to close such a question for that reason is not within our community rules (and can lead to review suspensions).

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