I read at https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic -

Other types of questions that are off topic include questions that:

ask us to rewrite text or otherwise tell you what to say. We are not an editing service. Questions should focus on how to generally write or decide what to say so that you can tailor them to your situation.

Thus why's How to tell your grandparent to not come to fetch you with their car? on-topic? Just making sure - I'm thinking of asking some questions here. Weren't some users suspended for a year for asking phrasing requests? Thanks!

  • Hey, thanks for the question! It's always nice to see new people being interested in your policy :) I write this earlier in chat and I thought it might interest you (since it's about your meta question).
    – Ael
    Jun 4, 2019 at 7:43
  • 8
    Users aren't "suspended for a year for asking phrasing requests". If someone is suspended for a year it's generally because of other misconduct. While it is possible to be suspended for low-quality contributions, that only happens after a long history of low quality content and refusal to work with people to improve. Also, a suspension never goes directly to a year - the time is increased for each suspension after the first, so anybody suspended for a year would have already had several warnings and suspensions previously. Just asking a question in good faith will never get you a suspension.
    – Mithical
    Jun 16, 2019 at 7:42
  • @ArwenUndómiel Thanks! Good to know!
    – user2423
    Jun 17, 2019 at 5:13

1 Answer 1


I believe this section puts the emphasis on the fact that we discourage (and do not consider on-topic) questions that are basically phrasing requests. For instance,

My mother is a helicopter parent. I can't stand it anymore. I want to tell her to leave me alone. How to tell her that?

Would be off-topic because it is "otherwise [telling] you what to say". It is a phrasing request.
The tricky part is, if you add details to this question in which you explain what you have tried before to make her understand that you would like to have some space, and why it didn't work, then we may be able to help you find other ways of addressing the issue with her, either verbally or not. It would also work if you explain why you don't want to try to address it the way you thought of doing it (because you believe it wouldn't work). We need to see effort, that you have tried something or at least thought about a possible tackling angle but refrained from doing it because you thought it wouldn't work in your situation. That way, we may be able to suggest "what to say [or do] so that you can tailor them to your situation".

In this particular question, OP say that what they thought to say to their grandparents would likely come across as rude:

I would like to ask my grandparents to not fetch me at the train station next time, but I'm afraid they will take it badly (like in: "hey, you are such a bad driver I'd rather walk")

OP thought about a potential resolution but realized they couldn't do it the way they wanted because it may hurt their grandparents. Now, I agree this question narrows the scope a lot because OP explicitly say they don't want to have to lie and they say they would rather find a way to tell their grandparents the real reason why they don't want them to come fetch them. But it would not make answers that do prefer this angle off-topic, as long as they're backed up with either personal experience or literature references, and that they explain why they think that OP should consider another angle that their preferred one.

The take-away

  • Plain, context- and detail-less questions asking how to say something to someone are off-topic

  • Questions explaining what was tried and failed or why OP think their preferred way would not work are on-topic

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