"Speaking" Korean without really speaking Korean, as a tourist in South Korea got 2 downvotes, and put "On Hold" as "Too Broad". On the other hand, it also got 8 upvotes and three great answers, including from people who don't usually post answers.

The question How to "speak" Russian, if you don't speak Russian? , asked last year, wasn't closed, and didn't get any downvotes.

How could I have asked my question about Korean better? Would splitting it up into separate posts (eg a post asking about Hangul, a post asking about pronunciation) have helped?

I might have tried asking questions on a Korean Language stack exchange, but it's only in Area51. I had also read Wikivoyage's "Talk" section on South Korean prior to asking my question, but it didn't have enough information.

  • have you tried asking the close-voters? They're fairly frequent in chat, most of them.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 0:04

4 Answers 4


Things to remember:

  • just because someone answers a question, doesn't justify the question (sometimes people are going for rep, sometimes they're new, sometimes they only answer part of a question).
  • just because a 'similar' question was upvoted, doesn't make yours right. It can be worth looking at the subtle differences. Also as we've seen many times (although probably not the case here) sometimes there's a consensus that certain questions are now off-topic - eg in the early days, the site was more accepting of planning a trip style questions.
  • you've been here a while, so you know the [help] rules. As such you know that multiple questions in one is almost always considered too broad.

The last reason is, I suspect, the reason you got downvotes and closed. People know you know the rules, and yet I count (in my sleepy state) at least eight separate questions in the body. You point to the Russian one, but it has one question.

How to ask it better? Probably split it up. We have question on language courses. Learning phrases. Getting by on hand signals.

My thoughts at least. I'm not saying it's the definitive answer. I'm just trying to address your points. Good luck!


I did not downvote, but one of the close votes is mine. Your question is on the edge between being a travel question and a language question, but after reading the full question the language side was heavier, which made decide the close vote. For example, the following questions within your question made it look so IMO:

  • Is it easy for someone unfamiliar with Korean to determine which Korean words are words from English, and which ones aren't?
  • Also, how easy is it to go from a Korean word of English origin to the corresponding English word?
  • Is getting the hang of pronouncing and hearing Korean words useful?
  • Are there any sounds that are difficult for native speakers of English to pronounce?
  • are there any combinations of syllables that aren't inherently difficult, but are very rare in English, leading to native speakers of English to mispronounce them...

Anyway, the first parts of the question were helpful for travelling, again IMO:

  • In which contexts is knowing only English a disadvantage?
  • How much written information is available in English compared to Korean, and how much proficiency do Korean people, especially in service industries, have in English?
  • Is learning Hangul by itself useful?

There are many questions in the site about languages that ask about a certain language, and you can tell from the question that these questions are more useful for travelers, not for linguistics as in your question. Hence, I voted to close.


I think y'all are getting a little too hung up on observing process for the sake of process, not to mention making some up on the fly: I don't see any prohibitions about asking multiple things in one question anywhere in the help center. While I agree that multiple ?s is definitely a "question smell" that makes it likely the question is too broad ("Thailand? Or maybe Malaysia? And where should I stay? And how much does it cost?"), this alone does not disqualify the question.

In this particular case, there are indeed eight statements that end in question marks, but it's still fundamentally just one question: How useful is knowledge of basic Korean when visiting South Korea? (And, IMHO, the one way you could improve the question is to clarify the title along these lines.) All eight subtopics of this can be fairly easily and cohesively answered in one answer, I did so, and based on the 19 upvotes at time of writing, people seem pretty happy with the answer. So, theory aside, both the question and answer were useful.

So... what are the close-voters hoping to achieve by closing this?

  • The answer was GREAT, the question is ok but not the best, if the question was edited as you suggested then Yes, it will be great. Not everyone can come up with the same conclusion as you, people usually are stuck with the first impressions.. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 17:26

Despite the similar question titles, your two questions really have almost nothing in common. Your Russian question is asking if it really is necessary to speak Russian to visit Crimea, while your Korean question is asking a half a dozen questions about Korean, most of which are probably best answered on a Korean Language site (unfortunately, that doesn't exist yet).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .