helping OP read a book


Senior Member
US English
Most OP questions in the "English-only" forum are of two types:

(1) OP has an English grammar question, and gives us example sentences to ask it.
(2) OP saw a phrase in English they didn't understand. They ask us to explain it in ways they understand.

But there is also a third type:

(3) OP is reading an entire book (usually an old book). Every phrase they don't understand becomes a forum question.

Sometimes type (3) occurs a lot (five times each day). I dislike that. I'm not here to help OP read a book. If the book is too hard, OP should (in my humble opinion) read a simpler book or a more modern book, not ask us to explain something on every page. As far as I know, (3) is not against the rules, so when I see several of these, I put OP on "Ignore", which removes all 5 questions each day.

If this only bothers me, I have no suggestion. Just call me a curmudgeon. If it bothers many people, is there a reasonable way to change it?

signed, Grumpy McBear
  • There's also type (4): OP systematically and extensively (I'm not talking about a one-off request) asks for proofreading of their homework, assignments, paid tasks etc.
    I for one would rather help people understand, say, Oscar Wilde than help them cheat or misrepresent their English proficiency by proofreading everything they write, so that would be my pet peeve.
    As you have already pointed out, you don't have to help everyone - you can be more...selective and make good use of the ignore feature :)


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    On more than one occasion, a series of threads with questions about a work of literature has prompted me to read or re-read the work in question. I think we all have our pet hates; I ignore most punctuation and pronunciation questions because they leave me cold.:)


    Senior Member
    English - US
    (3) OP is reading an entire book (usually an old book). Every phrase they don't understand becomes a forum question.
    There was a poster who asked multiple questions per day about two Jack London books over a period of several years. I checked a few times and the questions were not in any sort of order. My guess is that we wrote his doctoral thesis. :)


    Español puertorriqueño & US English
    Another type of issue I've seen is people opening threads asking for translation help with a source text they do not comprehend.
    It's clear that the person has taken on a translation assignment they cannot handle and they're in waaaaay over their head.

    How can you tell? Because when users ask for context/background info and/or clarification, they're not able to provide it simply because they have no clear idea as to what the text is actually communicating.


    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    I don't mind multiple questions about specific books at all. If I've read the book I'm often glad to see a learner is attempting to read it, because I enjoyed it myself.

    What I dislike is when a question is asked and answered, and the person who posted it continues arguing vehemently, despite all answers to the contrary, that their interpretation is correct. I find those very frustrating. But hurray for the ignore button! :D


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I've only ever ignored one person. And that was because he was complaining about getting answers to his questions that were correcting previous erroneous information but brought his threads back to the home page, sometimes causing a technical violation of the flooding rule because he posted a lot. He made threats to try to enforce his "no more answers" policy on "his" threads. But to me, threads belong to the community and leaving inaccurate information as the last word for future visitors with the same type of question is a disservice to them. I understood his side of things but thought, on balance, accuracy was more important. So eventually, after a few rounds of that, I just blocked him. He eventually got banned (not by my doing, I'm not a big fan of that) and the problem went away.

    Which segues into the flooding rule. The flooding rule is designed to deal with the OP scenario through limiting the posts by an individual user. I just skip the posts I'm not interested in, which I find easy enough to do. When I realize every post from a certain poster is on a book that I find uninteresting, I just visually scan past that poster. At most it's five posts.
    Last edited: