While editing questions tagged [vocabulary] (as per this meta post), I came across this question:

The format of this question looks fine, in itself, but it's based on an erroneous interpretation of the involved sentence, and the accepted answer makes that clear.

家 is the measurement word for 医院

On StackOverflow, one of the available flag/close reasons is:

Not reproducible or was caused by a typo

While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one was resolved in a way less likely to help future readers.

I would feel comfortable voting to close that question with the reason above. It fits the description rather well: similar questions are on-topic, but this one is unlikely to help future readers. Note that the wording of the SO's close description is very accurate: it doesn't suggest that it's absolutely impossible that the question be of help to future readers, only unlikely.

However language learning is not the same as following a tutorial and debugging a program. Whereas a typo in software is objectively a trivial mistake, so much that it has a dedicated close reason on SO, what looks like a trivial mistake to natives and fluent speakers of a language might be perfectly legit to inexperienced learners.

Nevertheless, I'm going make the case that this question is unlikely to help future readers.

Should the question be closed on these grounds? If so, with what reason?


In my opinion, this type of questions could still be useful for other future readers with the same confusion. If possible, I'd suggest to rewrite the question in order to avoid the mistake, in the example maybe "What does 家 mean in 家医院?". And if that question is already answered, closed it as duplicated. However, rewriting the question when there are already answers addressing the mistake, could cause some added confusion. In that case, a solution could be to change the question and add an edit mentioning the original confusion.

As a side note, the linked question solved now my confusion for seeing 家 before the name of buildings, so what for some people might seem trivial, for others it might not be! :)

  • 1
    Fair enough. I'm not sure how to edit the question, as you say, a too heavy hand might make existing answers unclear. I'll just leave it alone for now, but feel free to suggest an edit yourself. If you do, please remember that the reason I was going to edit it in the first place was to remove the vocabulary tag. – blackgreen Jul 29 '20 at 6:47

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