I want to draw people's attention to the Shit Happens question.

Recently I have reviewed a couple of First Posts/Low Quality Post for this question. I have done my best to help the users make meaningful contributions, but most of these late answers are just a line saying here we say this: XXX, that probably would be better suited as just comments.

I know that sometimes questions get closed to avoid "me too", "thank you" and that kind of meaningless contributions. I hit on close, but none of the offered reasons to close was to protect the question.

So, I wanted to bring some discussion, to see if the question should be closed to avoid more low quality late answers that don't really add that much to what has already been said.

Also, maybe somebody could help me kill two birds with one stone by pointing what is the best procedure to request that a question gets closed to avoid this kind of behavior (maybe I just don't have enough reputation to see that feature).

  • It would be amusing if one of the "reasons for closing" options were simply; Shit happens. Aug 7, 2019 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


I saw this question, and considered closing it, but due to the lack of other close votes, and my own borderline feelings on it, I chose to leave it open.

However... it is representative of a troubling pattern on this site (and likely other language sites).

The obvious problem with this question is that it a translation request, without an attempt on the part of the OP to do their own translation first. This is openly discouraged here. The only reason I didn't close it for this alone was because it's asking to translate an idiomatic expression, which are the hardest things to translate, so first attempts to translate often fall completely flat.

This leads to a more subtle problem with the question, which is that translation requests for idiomatic expressions demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of how idiomatic expressions even work! This is a common mistake for someone learning a second language for the first time. But it's also something that we could perhaps address in one fell swoop.

And the third problem with the question grows out of this, and that is that idiomatic expressions (in any language!) have many, often countless, alternatives, making the question essentially a "list question."

I would encourage someone who is motivated to write a post (here on meta) about how to translate idiomatic expressions, probably beginning with a break-down of what idea is being conveyed ("Shit happens" really has nothing to do with feces, it's an expression of frustration about bad things which are out of one's control), thinking of new ways to say it even in your original language ("That's life", "What can you do?" "Oh well!" etc), then translate those phrases, using vocabulary you already have, into your target language.

This process I have outlined is not the least meant to be exhaustive, or even technically "correct." I would hope that someone who writes this post puts some good energy into it, cites some resources, and comes up with a good, canonical post we can use to close this (and similar) questions as they arise, and reference the new meta post.

That's my 2¢.

If the community votes to close the question even without such a meta post, I won't lose any sleep over it :)

  • 1
    You left me wondering "What would be the translation of my 2¢?" Just kidding. Great insight. Thank you. I'll have this in mind every time I'm answering one of these "How can I translate this idiomatic".
    – Diego
    Oct 11, 2014 at 19:48
  • I sounds like a well written canonical question, with a well written canonical answer, would be very valuable here: What is an idiomatic expression? The number of people who have never heard of these things is large. We could refer people who ask this kind of question to such a question/answer pair. Aug 7, 2019 at 19:09

I see nothing wrong with the question. OP put in the desired effort, constructing a realistic dialogue for context.

It is always challenging to figure out how to express something that doesn't have a direct translation. That is one of the main themes of our site!

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