I see a tendency of close votes on my favorite kind of questions: ones asking about subtle differences between close synonyms. They are usually closed for excuses like "lack of context" (I want to learn the general usage) or "general reference". The dictionary usually defines each of the terms by giving the remaining synonyms, rarely detailing subtleties like where they differ in particular, where one would be preferable over another, or which ones would be rather used figuratively, while others are literal. While one frequently can convey the difference from a dictionary, it's a difficult and often futile exercise of picking out little but meaningful differences between multiple, often long and fuzzy entries all stating mostly the same thing but in different words. A question which bundles the synonyms and an answer which underlines their differences is much better in understanding their correct use than a bunch of nearly-identical definitions.
So, my request to the moderators: Please, stop.
- The usage of slander,defame,vilify and calumniate (two close votes already and I still don't know how "calumniate" differs from the rest)
- "Blackness" vs "darkness" ("You need to provide more context". No, you tell me which is applicable in what kind of context!)
- What are the differences between "element" and "item" regarding a list
- "To work for" vs. "to work in" vs. "to work at" (a very nasty close, finding this in a dictionary is a real pain)
Most others already got deleted - closed questions with negative score.
Also: The dictionary definitions are often far too spartan to show subtle differences like areas of usage (scientific, law), indicate words that shift out of use but didn't become obsolete yet, words rarely used, emotional connotations associated with given synonyms, specific cases where given words are not synonymous, and other differences too subtle for dictionary entries.
StoneyB noted correctly: answering these questions is difficult. It's definitely not mere dictionary lookup. I wish people who mark them as GR try their hand at answering them in a thorough and detailed manner. They might change their opinion as to whether this is answered by a mere dictionary lookup or not.