There is a phenomenon that many people simply ignore the most basic grammar rules of the Latin languages on the sites.


  • They don't use sentences
  • They don't use capital letters
  • They write "I" consequently in lowercase

My question is, exactly what can we do against it, and what we can't.

What I currently know, after some... "consultation":


  • Fixing the post (it is even advised)
  • Advising the OP ("Sentences start with capital letters in English", " 'I' is always uppercase in English", "To make your question comprehensible, I suggest breaking it into sentences")
  • Advising the OP that attending to these "nuances" will improve his experience
  • Asking the OP to fix them


  • Voting the post down
  • Flagging the post as VLQ

Not allowed:

  • Voting the post down, and then asking the OP to fix it in order to have the downvote or VTC removed (you are risking punishment if you do it!)
  • Voting the post for closure/leave closed (if other circumstances for closure don't stay)
  • Calling them "lazy", "ignorant" or "functional illiterate" even if you think they are

Is it okay?

Extension: although sites can differ significantly in this, but maybe some cross-network ruling could be still useful.

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    As always, any grammar/spelling corrections are warmly welcomed. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Jun 24 '17 at 21:46
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    Where did you "consult"? And what are you asking/suggesting when you say "Is it okay?" Do you actually mean to ask "What can/can't be done?" I'm not sure you'll get one answer that applies to every site. – jimsug Jun 24 '17 at 22:03
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    Oh the wonderful irony of the grammatical incorrectness of this question. – ArtOfCode Jun 24 '17 at 22:13
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    I believe you missed the part where you insult people by calling them "lazy" for spelling and grammatical errors. Yes, that is inappropriate too. – EEAA Jun 24 '17 at 22:15
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    Not everyone in the world is a native English speaker, and we have plenty of posters from around the globe. Expecting people to get everything correct is a high bar to set; it's admirable that many have put in the effort to learn a second language at all. – HDE 226868 Jun 24 '17 at 22:17
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    @HDE226868 Not true. All of them know very well, that sentences start with capital letters. It is the first what they learn in any English course. If they say, "sorry I am not a native English speaker", it is not the truth - all of them know very well, how they should write, they simply accustomed to a lazy writing style in chatrooms, and now they think it is okay everywhere. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Jun 24 '17 at 22:18
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    That's a heck of a claim to make, @peterh. Unless you've talked with all of these posters personally, then I'm not inclined to believe you. – HDE 226868 Jun 24 '17 at 22:19
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    @peterh See, your attitude here is all wrong. You are making un-founded assumptions about the english skill level of people that post on SE sites. – EEAA Jun 24 '17 at 22:20
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    @DavidPostill Believe me, not. Really not. I was once one of them. I know a lot of them. I talked with a lot of them. Not always, I admit there could be maybe some % of them, who really tries to give his best, but the overwhelming majority simply thinks, writing in a chatroom style is here okay. | Particularly if they say like this: "sorry I am not a native English speaker", it is only a bad excuse. If they are capable to produce any English text, they've also learned and know very well the basic grammar long ago. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Jun 24 '17 at 22:32
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    See, the thing is, Peter. You *are still "one of them". Your grammar is quite good, but even you make very frequent grammatical mistakes. You even make these mistakes when correcting users' posts in comments, which is quite comical. So you say "I was once one of them" as if to assume you've somehow reached the pinnacle of english grammar proficiency, when you're actually still miles and miles from the top. As I've said elsewhere, by all means correct grammar in edits, and leave comments to yourself. – EEAA Jun 24 '17 at 22:40
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    @EEAA It is sad. But somewhere a limit should be drawn. If it would be over my skill level, I would honor it. Anyways I do all reasonable to give my best. They don't. There is a significant difference between 1) that you follow the 5-6 most basic rules what you learned long ago 2) you are a native level speaker. Wanting (2) from me to fight people intentionally ignoring (1) is to me unfair. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Jun 25 '17 at 0:07
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    More and more assumptions. You cannot know the path every person took to learning English. Sure, if they went through a formal school-style curriculum then yes, they should have learned these basics. But what about those that didn't go through a formal English education? What about those that have picked up bits and pieces along the way? You speak as though people are maliciously and intentionally using bad grammar and I assure you, that is not the case. You are wrong, plain and simple. And perhaps a bit paranoid as well. Assume the best of people and life is much easier. – EEAA Jun 25 '17 at 0:18
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    @peterh Ok then. I guess I'm done here. I've said my piece, and it appears that many agree with me. I will re-state one thing: assume the best of people. Assume that they are acting in good faith. By doing this, you make not only their life more enjoyable but yours as well, as you're not focusing on inconsequential minutiae on a freaking technical question and answer site. – EEAA Jun 25 '17 at 0:50
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    @peterh I fear you have missed many opportunities for self-realisation. One of you recent assertions is quite false. ..._all the languages using latinic alphabet have the same basic rules_... For an example that fails to meet the basic rules consider a language which does not capitalize the names of languages, religions, days of the week, proper titles,or even the first-person pronoun. How many of your basic rules would thus be violated? Even among native English speakers there is variation of how many words are spelt, and when "correcting" a post that can be an important realisation. – user351780 Jun 25 '17 at 1:03
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    To be pedantic, English is a Germanic language. Sure, it's borrowed a lot from Latin and related languages, but it is still Germanic in origin. – ale Jun 25 '17 at 2:27

As I see it, you pretty much got it right, except the Questionable part:

  • Voting the post down is allowed. Nobody is disallowed from voting, either up or down, that's the whole point of Stack Exchange. If someone thinks a question is bad because it's full with grammar mistakes, they're free to downvote. Yes this is not "fair" sometimes, and frowned upon by many, but totally allowed in my opinion.

  • Flagging the post as VLQ is allowed when the mistakes are just too many, and can't be fixed. If it's matter of few "i" and misspelled words, such flag is not questionable, it should not be used. As the flag excerpt says,

    This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

    So flag for VLQ only if the answer is too bad to fix.

| improve this answer | |
  • @ShadowWizard I think someone thinks ... also, only those who have enough rep are allowed to vote ... – Pierre.Vriens Jul 4 '17 at 15:13
  • @Pierre.Vriens thanks, fixed. As for enough rep to vote, that's not the issue here. The discussion as I see it is about those who can already vote. (i.e. if they're allowed to downvote or not, etc.) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask Jul 4 '17 at 19:19

It's not about language. If it's a good question, written in terrible but barely comprehensible English, someone might fix it.

Fun fact. When I was a newbie on Super User – a site where I'm now a moderator, I had a mod politely comment on nearly all these things. 6 years on, this is still a work in progress – I still confuse my "its" and "it's" for example. At the end of the day though we cannot really set hard and fast rules on these – we can only strive to make things better.

There is nothing to do "against" it. It is about what we can do to help other users. Peter Mortenson for example does a lot of great work fixing spelling (see this old post on the old Super User Blog) and grammar.

One of the core rules of SE is "Be Nice" - and really the solution here is to "Be Nice". If you can substantially fix spelling or grammar, or even rewrite a question or answer to be substantially better keeping with the intent and spirit of the original post, it is awesome.

We cannot tell people how to vote (votes are anonymous anyway) and expect them to follow. We can fix, improve and if someone goes "I downvoted this cause the english is brokeded" fix it, and go "hey, it's fixed" at best.

The not allowed bits...

Voting the post down, and then asking the OP to fix it in order to have the downvote or VTC removed (you are risking punishment if you do it!)

Eh, not really, unless they are really rude about it. Also, it's lazy, and if it bothers you, you can fix it.

Voting the post for closure/leave closed (if other circumstances for closure don't stay)

The post might be bad in other ways. Besides, an edit throws it back into the reopen queue for review, so the intent is a question should be reopened if fixed. However, it's for the reviewer to decide.

Calling them "lazy", "ignorant" or "functional illiterate" even if you think they are

Will get a mod message. If you see it, flag it.

At the end of the day, we build the spaces we want to see, and "live in" in a metaphorical sense. Rather than telling people how to behave, it's better we fix our broken windows, rather than standing around, telling people not to throw trash into the broken windows.

| improve this answer | |
  • its a shame this got fixed ... – rene Jul 4 '17 at 15:45
  • @rene: Edit history to demonstrate the fixing of broken windows is almost as good, no? – Nathan Tuggy Jul 4 '17 at 15:47
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    @rene Meer van hetzelfde ... Also: it's a shame, not its a shame ... – Pierre.Vriens Jul 4 '17 at 15:52

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