The question Tuques and dialects - What do you call a knitted cap in your region/dialect? seeks a list of answers, across various dialects. Simchona argues that it should therefore be closed as not constructive, because "there is no real answer" and no answer can ever be complete. I argue that though it could perhaps be rephrased as "what are the names for this type of hat (and where are they used)?" and be perfectly fine.

Should the tuque question be closed? Assuming it is edited into ideal form, how is it different from other questions with multi-part or multiple answers which have not been closed?


3 Answers 3

I think I agree with everything Simchona said... The reason is that she certainly makes a good point that I can't argue myself, as I tried to see if she was wrong.

In any case, like it has been said before, not every question that is off topic for the main site can be mutated in a CW just "to save it". CW are questions that would be on topic if it wasn't for the "list" problem.

And therefore, since I personally think that this description fits your question, then it should be ok to convert it to CW, but this is not the standard option for every question that has a problem... Just wanted to send a reminder. :)

I'd like to see a mod writing here though, it might help to give a more definite perspective on the matter.

If you're referring to me in the first paragraph, I'm a she. –  simchona Dec 6 '11 at 18:59
@simchona oops! I'm going to correct it, sorry! –  Alenanno Dec 6 '11 at 19:04
No offense taken :] –  simchona Dec 6 '11 at 19:08

I believe questions like this may need some editing, and sometimes should be community wiki, but should definitely not be closed. It should not be impossible to ask about dialectical variations of a given term.

The issue of whether answers can be absolutely complete also seems to be missing the point to me. An answer (or a set of answers) can be complete enough.

It seems to me that any question asking for a word or phrase for a given idea may have multiple answers, whether or not there is variation between dialects. There are of course many questions of this form. Take as a single example from recent questions Is there a word for a non-geek? Many possibilities were suggested. The list may or may not be complete, they are not all in a single answer, and it's difficult to tell whether there's a single best one. I still find it constructive.

Imagine the OP had simply posted a picture or description of the hat, and asked what it was commonly called, without mentioning dialects or soliciting individual regional answers. It would be extremely similar to a multitude of questions on the site, would have gathered the same sort of information in its answers, and if the terms vary from region to region, that would have been mentioned in the answers. This suggests to me that the core question is quite valid. Given that the OP expects some variation between dialects, it seems reasonable to include that information in the question, so that answers are more likely to consider that. It also seems preferable to ask as a single question first, rather than simultaneously posting one each for the major dialects.

So to me, it seems that the first action for high-rep users upon seeing questions like this should be to encourage editing (and vote to close if the question is currently in a very bad form), or even just edit immediately, rather than giving in to the "close and move on" instinct.

While I concur that it should better be community wiki instead of being closed, I would suggest to wait some time before answering your question yourself, so as to give others a better chance to contribute. –  Stephen Dec 5 '11 at 18:53
@Stephen: I'm happy to delete my answer for a while if you think that's a good idea. I figured if anyone disagreed, the presence of my answer would if anything get them riled up and they'd post for sure! –  Jefromi Dec 5 '11 at 18:59
No, please do not delete it! I even gave +1 for it, because I think that it is a good answer. Thus if there is a question, and instantly a good answer, some people will be discouraged from writing another answer themselves, which might have included further aspects. A this is "meta", it is not so critical here anyway. –  Stephen Dec 29 '11 at 18:54

The question is essentially asking for a list of words, and those kind of questions are not anymore welcome on Stack Exchange sites.
Once, they were welcome, and changed to Community Wiki, but Community Wikis are not used anymore to salvage borderline questions at the limit of acceptability.

There are many elements in the FAQ that suggest a question that is answered with a list are not welcome:

  • Questions where every answer is equally valid should be avoided.
  • Questions that are answered with a list are probably too generic, which means they are not enough scoped, or they are not asked because an actual problem you are having.

If you have a problem to resolve, then describing in details what problem you are trying to resolve should make the question scoped enough to be acceptable.

Using a cooking example, your question should not be like "How do I cook a cake?" but "How do I cook a Saint Honore Cake to make it similar to the one I have eaten when I was in Paris?"

So if I understand correctly, it would have been permissible for the OP to simply ask what the hat was normally called, since he had had trouble with people understanding the word he knew. But then if there turned out to be more than one word for it (perhaps in different dialects, perhaps even within one), and answers containing multiple words appeared, should the question then be closed? –  Jefromi Dec 6 '11 at 22:47
I also asked how this question (in some ideal form) was different from others. To take an example:… Though this question did yield an answer much more highly-voted than others, there are other answers which are also quite valid, and the top answer in fact includes multiple parts. –  Jefromi Dec 6 '11 at 22:53
If the question was very specific, then it would have been more acceptable. It were fine to ask which word to use for that hat, to be understood in a specific region/country. As it is, I could report the word used in any English-speaking country, which in my opinion is too broad. If I want to know which word to use because I am talking to a person that is from California, then I should not be interested of the word used in Indian English. –  kiamlaluno Dec 6 '11 at 22:57
The question you are referring is not asking for a list of words/phrases; it is asking if there is a phrase in English that is equivalent for a specific French phrase. If the question is too broad, then it can be closed too. –  kiamlaluno Dec 6 '11 at 23:02
Right, I understand that it's asking for an equivalent, but often questions seeking a single thing in fact don't have a single answer, yet they are often highly upvoted, and have no suggestion of closing. They become questions seeking lists, which is apparently okay.… –  Jefromi Dec 7 '11 at 4:28

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