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The current description of "unclear what you're asking" misuses the pronoun "it" in the second sentence, and this issue has really been bugging me. Specifically, the pronoun is being used to refer to two different things in the same sentence, without any type of separation.

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking.

Should this be rewritten as the following?

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. We are having difficulty understanding your question as it is currently written.

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we? what if one understands and other dont –  user221081 Aug 27 '13 at 7:09
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I'm not really comfortable with that wording. We are having difficulty understanding your question implies the problem lies on our side, which is not the case (it lies on the questioner's side). –  Frédéric Hamidi Aug 27 '13 at 8:22
    
why is this feature request downvoted? "draft" suggestion to resolve reported issue ("we're having...") doesn't feel alright, but there seem to be a much better way to address the issue proposed in this answer: "As your question..." (replace the first "it" with an actual noun) –  gnat Aug 27 '13 at 9:31
    
Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/124173/… –  Stijn Aug 27 '13 at 11:49
    
allow me to plug meta.stackexchange.com/questions/215705/… –  Kate Gregory Apr 9 at 15:54

1 Answer 1

It is not misusing it.

(See what I did there?)

No, but seriously. The pronoun is not being misused there, it is just being reused to refer to two different objects. That's totally legit, but it can be kind of confusing if you don't already have some context that helps you to figure out what the person is trying to say.

So it wouldn't hurt to reword it to maximize clarity, even if it isn't the most urgent thing on the agenda.

But I dislike your proposed rewording, at least in part for the same reasons Frédéric dislikes it.

So how about this:

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As your question is currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking.

All we need to do is replace the first "it" with an actual noun. Problem solved. Crisis averted.

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Problem solved. Crisis averted phew, that is a relief! –  user226423 Aug 27 '13 at 8:52
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@UV-D I like the new wording better, but the original grammar is still wrong. I saw my dog eating some ice cream. It tasted like chocolate and I heard it bark. I'm just trying to improve the site. I saw something that was incorrect, and I made a suggestion. Not sure why I'm being met with sarcasm... don't know what I did wrong. –  Jack Humphries Aug 27 '13 at 18:04
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@JackHumphries While I agree that the first "it" is quite bad (because it lacks a named antecedent, namely "the question"), the second "it" is an syntactic expletive. A better example might be "My antique vase has been shattered! Is is now ruined, and it is difficult for the family not to cry." The second it is an expletive being equated (by way of "is") with the family's difficulty in not crying. In SO's wording, the expletive is similarly equated with the hardness in understanding what is being asked. –  apsillers Aug 27 '13 at 18:27
    
@apsillers That's fair - I agree. I think they should fix the first "it" to make it less confusing. –  Jack Humphries Aug 27 '13 at 18:35
    
@Jack Humphries: Calling something that isn't technically wrong, wrong. That in itself is what you did wrong. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 27 '13 at 18:57
    
pedantic semantics... I would imagine that a lot of people get what it means and moved on. –  user226423 Aug 27 '13 at 19:35
    
@Jack Nothing wrong with your suggestion. I don't see anything sarcastic here. I'm just disagreeing with one of the statements in your question on a technical level, not on a moral one. Sorry if my sense of humor offended you, it is admittedly hard to convey emotion online. –  Cody Gray Aug 28 '13 at 7:34

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