Todays question Is adding “let me know if anything is unclear” to an e-mail really necessary or is it redundant? was apparently manually migrated (delete, then create new question on other stack) from the English Language & Usage stack after OP was told the question would fit IPS better.

I was unaware of that and told OP that this question is not IPS and he could try asking that on ELU, since the question is about etiquette of formal email writing.

I am not familiar with ELU rules, therefore I don't know why it was rejected there. But I am certain that it is not for IPS.

Do you think it fits IPS?
Do you think it fits ELU? (those who are familiar with their rules)

What should we do with that question?

  • 1
    might work on the workplace or academia?
    – Rainb
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 10:53
  • So this question doesn't fall under "the written and unwritten - but well-established and expected - rules or conventions of behavior in a specific setting (also called etiquette)" which is listed in the help as "on-topic"?
    – DaveG
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 12:50
  • @DaveG yes etiquette questions are on topic, but not just any etiquette question. As Tinkeringbell put it nicely in her answer: "Writing etiquette is different from social etiquette, writing skills aren't interpersonal skills"
    – kscherrer
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 13:09
  • Re "Where is this on-topic?" - Try Writing? It's not just for writing fiction. Or The Workplace, perhaps.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 0:53

4 Answers 4


TL;DR: I think, in its current form, the question is a limbo between asking about what to write in an e-mail (which we've decided is off-topic and put in the help-center as such). But there's also a bit that may be about etiquette, or understanding interpersonal interactions (as AndyT pointed out), yet that's not coming out really well, and would certainly need some proof of the behavior being a form of etiquette and focus on something else than 'is this necessary'.

I have, in the past been pretty clear about writing etiquette: Such stuff you learn in language classes and IMO doesn't belong on IPS for that reason. Writing etiquette is different from social etiquette, writing skills aren't interpersonal skills. Having good interpersonal skills might help when writing someone, but you can have all the writing skills in the world and still struggle to interact with people using written media.

Currently, the question is asking whether or not to include a specific sentence in an e-mail. That's to me, unlike what Andy suggested, not about e.g. trying to understand how people interact the way they do.

Rephrasing it to 'why would people include that sentence' is a tad difficult too since none of the people on IPS are mind-readers. "Why add a redundant phrase for politeness" as suggested also is in itself redundant: The answer to that is 'politeness'.

I'm not familiar that familiar with ELU, but I do know both ELU and ELL don't take writing questions either.

As for what we should do with the question... I think it's better to leave it closed. I don't see enough evidence that saying 'feel free to ask if I've been unclear' is even a form of etiquette.

From that answer:

I think a good, on-topic etiquette question contains a few things:

  • Enough evidence that we're indeed dealing with a form of etiquette here
  • Asking whether or not the rule applies in a given situation is preferable over whether or not doing something would be rude/inappropriate/okay etc.
  • And, as our help-center suggest, it may focus on understanding the rule, on the reasoning behind it, just like a question about a theory or concept might.

If this question wants to remain on this stack, I'm afraid I'll have to give a burden of proof to someone, to first of all prove that we're dealing with a form of etiquette here.

Then, we can maybe focus the question on either understanding why the rule is there, or whether it is applicable in a given situation.

  • 3
    I can't see that the OP is asking/has asked 'whether or not to include a specific sentence into an e-mail' at all. What they are asking is why people who they think should know that the OP doesn't need encouragement to ask for clarification, keep telling the OP that they can ask for clarification. Which is why I suggested in comments that it was close to being a disguised rant, as per help centre 's types of questions not to ask 'your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”'
    – user9837
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 15:55
  • 2
    @Spagirl that might have been true too, I interpreted the 'is this necessary' part of the question to mean 'people do this, should I do this as well'. You're right in the fact the question offers a whole lot of details on how the OP generally sees these kinds of sentences, and it's almost asking 'am I right' too.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 18:15
  • @Spagirl I didn't read the question like you either, but now I see what you mean.
    – kscherrer
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 6:46
  • 1
    Why was the question reopened without addressing the issues outlined in this answer?
    – kscherrer
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 8:30
  • 2
    @Cashbee - Because of the capricious nature of SE. If people like a question they want it open, even if it doesn't fit well. (FYI - This answer is great at explaining why the question as is doesn't fit on IPS; as such I'm happy with it being closed...)
    – AndyT
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 9:10

I'm the guy who, on ELU, suggested it should be moved here.

I thought it fitted IPS as it's about interpersonal communication. Clearly the answer to the headline of the question ("is it necessary?") is no. So the question is about what function it serves. That's the "why" of communication.

You say in your comment on the question that you think it is about "formal writing etiquette". ELU doesn't deal in etiquette. "Why add a redundant phrase for politeness" is a cross-language question, and nothing to do with the english language as such.

As other people have suggested workplace.SE - I'm not sure it fits there particularly well either. They deal more with "what can/should I do in this situation at work" rather than how we communicate.


I think it fits IPS.

From the Help-Center:

the written and unwritten - but well-established and expected - rules or conventions of behavior in a specific setting (also called etiquette).

I think that´s a 100% fit. The fact that it is written, not spoken communication does not make it less interpersonal.


As the question stands as of now, Revision 8, I believe it does fit our Help Center's on-topic guidelines - 3 out of 4 points:

  • the written and unwritten - but well-established and expected - rules or conventions of behavior in a specific setting (also called etiquette).

  • understanding social norms as they relate to interpersonal interactions - why do we interact the way we do?

  • understanding theories and concepts commonly associated with interpersonal skills. - What is [theory/concept] or How do I use [theory/concept] to achieve [goal]?

That the body is large, and does carry a 'rant' flavor doesn't help the situation. However, we also ask for more details and context repeatedly, so shouldn't complain when we get it. Again, this complies with the Help Center's guidelines:

Questions must be specific enough to be answered

Because interpersonal interactions are very complex, we require that questions be specific - and preferably that they relate to a situation you are actually in. Please include the following information where possible, and to the degree that you are comfortable…

The OP has clarified what, precisely, the question is:

My question therefore is this: is adding such an obvious sentence necessary?

and, to reiterate and re-focus:

The question is simply this: given that you know that somebody is definitely capable of doing what you ask them, and given that you specify clearly what you want, is adding such a line to an e-mail necessary?

It is, thus an etiquette question, at the minimum. The obvious choice for an answer is wither "Yes" or "No" and how well those answers are supported should affect their votes, not the question's worth.

Yes, this question does belong here on IPS, and would need revisions to be appropriate for the Workplace stack, as I understand it anyway.

I do believe that the question, like almost any other on any stack, can be improved. I don't believe that it needs to be improved to remain open, however.

In specific response a "burden of proof" statement I'll offer that:

  • etiquette includes written communication as much as face-to-face, if not more in the current age (Netiquette comes to mind here)
  • as per the 2nd bullet in the quoted answer, the OP specifically asks if the "rule applies in a given (extremely precise) situation"
  • the OP, and many answers and comments, have affirmed that, applicable or not, it is a "convention of behavior" when writing such emails (even old-style hand-written and typed-on-paper memos have the same convention)

Seems to me that the "burden of proof" has been met, and implicitly accepted by the actions of several other users.

As said earlier, the question does carry a ranting taste, which is unfortunate. I don't believe it is a rant, however. Rather, I think the OP has taken the time to be very specific about the situation and has attempted to remove any chance for misunderstanding from their post. ("Better safe than sorry" seems to have been turned on its head here.)

Keep the question open on IPS.

(Final answer, Alex)

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