Let's imagine we had the following question:

What are the differences in usage and meaning between 슬프다, 서럽다, 눈물난다, and 서글프다?

These four words basically means 'sad' or 'sorrowful'. From my own experience, it seems to me that '슬프다' and '서럽다' have the same meaning, maybe '눈물난다' being used more by younger people and could be more informal. I cannot remember hearing '서글프다' and just saw it in a vocabulary list online (this prompted the question actually). When '서럽다' is used by a man, it seems to me that it implies the man speaks like a woman as the word is not broadly used by a man.

What are the differences between them? Intensity? Politeness/formality? Do they apply to people or objects? Could they be used by both genders (as '서럽다' is not broadly used by a man)?

If there are other words that relate to sorrow, feel free to add them to an answer.

This is a different question that I wrote with different words from What are the differences in usage and meaning between 아름답다, 예쁘다, 이쁘다 and 곱다?. that I find too broad. The question itself can't generate a definitive short answer.

What I mean by definitive is a well-researched answer with proper reference and link, not just an opinion based on personal experiences and by short is a two or three paragraph answer which will be easily readable and understandable. Also, this new question asks multiple questions as the linked one on the main board.

What is your thought on my new question? Should it be welcomed as on-topic as the other one?

Note: I tried to use the same format as much as possible.

  • Title edited to avoid this being confused with a 'real question'. Oct 25, 2016 at 8:50
  • 1) 슬프다 = sad 2) 눈물 난다 = When we encounter some feeling, it is a physiological phenomenon. 3) 서럽다 = more sad, sorrow : 혼자 살때 아픈것 만큼 서러운 것이 없다. When we live alone, sickness is the most sad thing. 3) 서글프다 = sorrow at observer position :결혼 안한 내 자신이 서글프다 Because I am a single, so I am sorrowful. 통일이 안 된게 서글프다. Our country is not unified so that it is sorrowful.
    – HK Lee
    Sep 7, 2018 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


The question itself can't generate a ... short answer. What I mean ... by short is a two or three paragraph answer which will be easily readable and understandable.

Lots of people across SE seem happy to write - and read - answers that are a page-height or two in length. There's no particular requirement I'm aware of on Stack Exchange for answers to limit themselves to two or three paragraphs, or for questions to be worded such that answers will tend towards that particular length. Here is the top answer to the top question on SO. Here is the equivalent on Japanese SE. Those are far from atypical for well-received answers on many sites across the SE network.

Personally I feel that for the real question you linked to, a good answer that includes many of the major points one could reasonably make relating to the most common usages of those words could fit into a space in proportion with Stack Exchange norms. (Possibly true for your constructed example above too, but I'm slightly less familiar with those words.)

The question itself can't generate a definitive ... answer. What I mean by definitive is a well-researched answer with proper reference and link, not just an opinion based on personal experiences

Stack Exchange answers don't have to contain references or links. They can, and often do, contain only the specific expertise of the answerer. Of course links and references are valuable and welcome where relevant.

Also, this new question asks multiple questions as the linked one on the main board.

I feel that it can be reasonably seen as essentially one question (as per the title) with a number of aspects for consideration in the answer suggested in the question body. I think that in the linked case, it is not illogical to consider those words and those aspects together.

That's not to say that there's no value in considering breaking down a question into its different aspects if that seems possible or helpful. But it's up to the question asker to make that decision, as long as the question remains within guidelines.

EDIT : removed some more tangential remarks about moderation.

  • There is a clear guideline on Meta SE on how to define too broad a question. In the close reason, it states under too broad "There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs. A few paragraphs doesn't mean more than 10 paragraphes that the answerer used for the question. The question can never be answered in a few paragraphs as it doesn't have details, prior research, context, or example sentence. All questions should have
    – user7
    Sep 25, 2016 at 11:13
  • those in order to be answered. Otherwise, I think it is better to put the question on hold and wait for the OP to edit the question. They are free to edit or not. If it is not edited, the question will be closed. They can ask the question on other discussion forums. Why should they use Korean SE? As I mentioned in a previous post, Korean SE should be differentiated from other general reference forums. Stack Exchange is designed to differentiate its format from others. KSE is not a site to encourage a question that seeks your opinion. The question should never have been answered before edit.
    – user7
    Sep 25, 2016 at 11:17
  • @Rathony edited my post to address the point about length. Sep 25, 2016 at 11:52
  • I don't think the first question is relevant as SO is a program site. The second question was asked when SE didn't have this policy. You need to note that you should not use older examples (probably prior to 2014 or 2015) as an example to allow a similarly asked question. If you don't believe me, you can ask "What is difference between X and Y?" on Japanese SE and see how quickly it will be closed. Japanese SE moderators are very quick and decisive when closing a blatantly off-topic question. Also, please note those questions have historical value and thus protected by it. Not closed.
    – user7
    Sep 25, 2016 at 11:57
  • Also, I would more than welcome any question like "what is the difference between 와 and 가? (It's a direct translation of the Japanese question" here because it can be answered definitively. I would, however, try to comment to ask the OP to give some examples, and prior research if possible.
    – user7
    Sep 25, 2016 at 12:01
  • @Rathony are there any no more recent long, well-received answers on non-programming sites, then? I'm pretty sure I've seen plenty on my travels around SE. Sep 25, 2016 at 12:23
  • Yes, there are. Sven Yarg, one of the most respected members on English Language and Usage, writes pretty long. But he doesn't answer such a question. He votes to close it instead. The issue is NOT whether SE allowed a long answer. The issue is whether we should allow a question that can ONLY be answered with a long answer. There is a clear line between them. I don't mind users giving a long answer to a definitive question. But I do mind users giving a long answer to a non-definitive question.
    – user7
    Sep 25, 2016 at 12:32
  • You have witnessed a thread of comments to make this question clearer. That's what we should have done to the question. Well, it is not easy when you deal with stubborn people, but if we put some more pressure (in a NICE way), it works. If it doesn't work, who cares? Just close it and move on. Let's not spend so much time on unclear and non-definitive questions to make them on-topic. Korean SE doesn't need them as much as they don't need Korean SE.
    – user7
    Sep 25, 2016 at 12:39
  • 2
    @Rathony yes, that's a fair point, you're right to make that distinction. There's another relevant distinction that can be made, though: Just because a close reason suggests 'a few paragraphs', that doesn't mean that there's a blanket SE policy mandating answerability in a few paragraphs. It just means that that's seen as a good wording for the close reason. It also doesn't mean that 'few' means 3 rather than (say) 10. Sep 25, 2016 at 12:40
  • 2
    I was about to answer to explain why I think this question is maybe broad but not too broad. But you put it better than I could. Thanks. In my opinion, for language questions, broad but reasonable questions appeal to broad, general answers. If I needed an answer dealing with a specific context, I'd have added it to the question.
    – Taladris
    Sep 25, 2016 at 13:17

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