There have been rather many questions lately that ask for differences between words or phrases and which should be easily solvable with a dictionary or a similar resource and therefore do not require any expertise. Only because they are not explicitly asking for translations, the following predefined closing reason for translations does not apply:

Questions asking for translations are off-topic unless prior research effort is clearly indicated; we're here to help you learn, not provide a bulk translation service.

Should we alter the scope of this predefined closing reason to also include the aforementioned cases? Or should we add a new predefined closing reason? Or is there no need to change anything altogether?

Please vote on and improve suggestions, since we need a community consensus to perform changes like this.

3 Answers 3


I suggest at least one new close reason:

Questions asking for differences between words or phrases are off-topic unless a context or prior research effort are clearly indicated. For more information, see How do I ask good, on-topic questions for translations or about differences?.

To make this on-topic you might quote two related dictionary translations and provide some context in which you would not know which alternative to use.

Everybody is invited to improve the wording and content.

  • We should make this post a reference we can link to whenever people get this close reason shown on their post.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 20:50
  • Why would this be off-topic? I do not see any reason for this suggestion, considering that many current questions are just about the difference in meaning of two similar phrases or words.
    – PMF
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 7:07
  • @PMF: A relevant portion of these questions is off-topic for the same reasons that questions closed under the predefined translations close reasons are off-topic: They can most probably easily be solved with a good dictionary and do not involve “the finer points of the language”. Some are like (and I exaggerate) asking for the difference between Philosophie and Milch. Anyway: If this is to be the reference for such close reasons, we could be more detailed here.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 7:27
  • 1
    @Wrzlprmft: Aren't we limiting the set of on-topic questions to strongly with this? I'm unsure whether there's really a reason to do so. The number of questions asked per day is not (yet) overwhelming.
    – PMF
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 7:38
  • @PMF: Maybe we should continue this discussion in chat.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 7:58
  • I finally compiled a first draft of a FAQ to be linked in a custom close reason.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 23:55

As an alternative to new close reasons, we could expand the existing custom close reason for translations:

Questions asking for translations, differences, proofreading or similar are off-topic unless it is clearly indicated why general references such as dictionaries do not provide sufficient answers. We're here to help you learn, not provide a bulk translation service. For more information, see How do I ask good, on-topic questions for translations or about differences?

As always, everybody is invited to improve this.

  • 1
    I would like to add a reference to chat, but I have no clue how to word it :(
    – Vogel612
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 14:03
  • A reference concerning our chat discussion about this or a sentence recommending to ask in our chat?
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 14:09

Before we add a new reason to close a question as off topic (which can easily be done with little effort) we should define the scope of this reason.

The fact that something can be looked up easily with Google or in a good (not any!) dictionary alone may not be a sufficient close reason in many cases. We need to take care to not close question that are both, general reference but also of general interest. If many people had the same issue they probably will find help with a good answer here.

Existing close reasons

  • If a question can quickly be solved with any dictionary and nothing is said on the difficulties when doing so we may consider to use the close reason unclear what you are asking.

  • If a question asks for a list of possible translation to German we may consider it is too broad.

  • In any case where we do not choose a custom close reason for an off-topic question reason displayed is refers to the scope of our FAQ.


New Off Topic close reasons may indeed include "Too General", or any other reason. Let me suggest we see what proposals we may gather here. It then will be easy to include any new close reason if there was consent from the community.

  • I am not sure what you are aiming at with the second half of your answer – maybe you misunderstood my question. The questions I am talking about are off-topic for the same reasons that questions closed with the cited reason for translations are. I can use a customised off-topic closing reason based on rephrasing the cited reason whenever voting to close such a question – and that’s what I am currently doing. Adding a respective closing reason (or broadening the scope of the existing reason) may ease this process and make our closing reasons for such questions more consistent.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 9:02
  • yeah - I did understand this but before we introduce new close reasons we need to hear what community says. Not much so far :"(
    – Takkat
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 10:06
  • I've ever and still approve having "general reference" as close options. Many question can very, very easily answered by looking into a single dictionary.
    – Em1
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 12:48
  • @Em1: This would be sort of approaching “prior reasearch effort is clearly indicated” from the other side. (No criticism, just noting.)
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 7:57
  • @Em1: How about this?
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 13:26

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