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We currently have two custom close reasons for the main site: one about translations and proofreading and one telling question askers to first consult a dictionary. Since these close reasons were created, an important change regarding close reasons has taken place: it is now possible to define different texts for different audiences or roles who are viewing or reviewing the closed question. Our current custom close reasons still employ the old format, in which everyone sees the same message.

More specifically, we have a close reason that goes as follows:

Please look up the meaning of words or expressions in a dictionary first. If you did so and found nothing satisfactory, mention that in your question. Do give context for where you heard or saw the word.

Using the new format for custom close reasons, we can define different formulations for different audiences or roles, to wit:

  • a brief description: the bold header for the close reason (at most 100 characters).
  • usage guidance: the text that will appear in the close menu, advising people when to use the close reason.
  • the close description: the text that will be shown to everyone in the post notice and should be relatively short.
  • the post owner guidance: text that appears in the post notice and is how the question owner (or OP) should fix the question (if possible).
  • the privileged user guidance: information for users with close privilege regarding what the close reason is.

The goal of this question is to gain consensus on what the audience-specific texts should be for the "please check a dictionary first" close reason. If or when we have defined these new texts, we can contact a CM to edit them into the current close reason. (Simply creating a new close reason and deleting the old one would work technically, but may mess up the close-reason statistics and have unintended consequences for questions that were closed in the past.)

I will post my own suggestions as an answer. Please vote and provide feedback. This should be reviewed widely so as to represent a community consensus. (For similar posts like this one, see Academia SE, Language Learning SE, Science Fiction & Fantasy SE and Literature SE. Meta SE does not appear to have a post about this.)


Update 07.08.2021: Tag added. A CM will be contacted to help us making the necessary changes.

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    Please excuse the delay in getting back to you on this. It wasn't my intention for it to take so long. I've added some updated wording suggestions. Please do let me know what you think of them. I'm happy to discuss here or in chat if it's easier.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 15 at 13:51
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Brief description:

Dictionary-lookup question.

Usage guidance (shown to flaggers/close-voters after choosing this close reason):

This question asks about the meaning of a word or phrase that can be found by looking it up in a dictionary. Meaning questions can be on topic if looking up the word or phrase does not clarify the sentence or passage in which it occurs.

Close description (shown to everybody, even non-users, viewing the closed question):

This question was closed because it asks about the meaning of a word or phrase that can be found by looking it up in a dictionary. It is currently not accepting answers.

Post owner guidance (shown under the general post notice to the author of a question):

If your question is about the meaning of a word or phrase that is not clear even after looking it up in a dictionary, please explain why consulting a dictionary did not help. If your comprehension problem is related to the context in which you found the word or phrase, please provide this context and explain why the dictionary definitions (if available) don't clarify the meaning.

Privileged user guidance:

Please check whether this question can be answered by consulting a dictionary. If the question has other problems and you can think of ways to improve the question and make it on topic, please guide the question owner by leaving one or more helpful comments.

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    I agree with these wordings. Thanks for making them!
    – Luke Sawczak Mod
    Apr 11 at 21:01
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UPDATE: I've made the changes as outlined below.


Overall, I think you have a good lead on these - I'd like to suggest a few changes from Tsundoku's version. I've explained my recommendations in each section below.

Brief description:

Dictionary-lookup question.

Usage guidance (shown to flaggers/close-voters after choosing this close reason):

This question asks about the meaning of a word or phrase that can be found by looking it up in a dictionary. Do not vote to close dictionary-lookup questions if looking up the word or phrase does not clarify the sentence or passage in which it occurs - e.g. idioms, metaphors.

By explicitly stating "do not close", you make a clear reminder that not all of these questions should be closed. The last part is optional but you might find it useful to include some common examples where this may be the case. Feel free to edit if there are others that I'm missing.

Close description (shown to everybody, even non-users, viewing the closed question):

This question was closed because it asks about the meaning of a word or phrase that can be found by looking it up in a dictionary. It is currently not accepting answers.

Post owner guidance (shown under the general post notice to the author of a question):

If your question is about the meaning of a word or phrase that is not clear even after looking it up in a dictionary, please edit the question to explain why consulting a dictionary did not help. If your comprehension problem is related to the context in which you found the word or phrase, please provide this context and explain why the dictionary definitions (if available) don't clarify the meaning.

Explicitly telling the user to edit the question is often an important part of guidance. Otherwise they may not know how to fix the problem.

Privileged user guidance:

Please check whether this question can be answered by consulting a dictionary. If the question has other problems and you can improve the question and make it on topic, please edit it or guide the question owner to edit it by leaving one or more helpful comments. If an edit sufficiently clarifies the question, please flag it for reopening.

Again, encouraging editing here can be really helpful. Plus, now that people can edit without necessarily putting a closed question into review, there's little reason to avoid making minor edits to things like formatting.

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    These changes make perfect sense. I just wonder if in the last section, "please edit or guide the question owner to edit" should be replaced with "please edit it or guide the question owner to edit it". (It is strange for me to see "edit" without a direct object, but I'm not a native speaker of English.)
    – Tsundoku Mod
    Sep 15 at 14:51
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    That's totally fine with me, @Tsundoku :)
    – Catija StaffMod
    Sep 15 at 14:56

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