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What does Grin refer to in Harry Potter?

Are there any other important references aside from this one:

Seamus Finnigan: "The Grin? What's the Grin?"

Bem: "Not the Grin, you idiot. The Grim. "Taking the form of a giant spectral dog, it's among the darkest omens in our world. It's an omen...of death."

Could Grin be short for Grindewald?

How is Grin related to Ignotus Peverell and the Cloak of Invisibility?

This question currently has a score of -12 and is on hold as "unclear what you're asking".

I am wondering what is unclear about this question.

I see three sentences phrased in question form, and all three of them seem clear to me:

  1. Are there any other important references aside from this one?

    This seems to be a simple yes or no question; there either are other important references, or there are not other important references.1

  2. Could Grin be short for Grindewald?

    This also seems to be a simple yes or no question. "Grin" either could be short for "Grindelwald" or it can't be short for Grindelwald. It is theoretically possible that we don't know enough to answer this, but that doesn't make the question unclear.

  3. How is Grin related to Ignotus Peverell and the Cloak of Invisibility?

    This also seems pretty straightforward. It is asking for someone to explain the relation. Of course, it is possible that there is no relation, but then the answer would be that there is no relation; that does not make the question unclear.

Now I grant that there may be issues with this question. For one, it asks a question based on a quote without saying where the quote is from. The question is also based on several premises which may be unsubstantiated, and even incorrect.

However, those factors do not make it unclear what the question is. It may make it worthy of downvotes, and of comments pointing out flawed premises or asking for improvements, which it already has.

Yet the question was closed as "unclear what you're asking", and when it went for review to be reopened it was quickly kept closed. Since I don't see any comments explaining what is unclear about the question (as mentioned, comments pointing out flawed assumptions don't show that the question is unclear) I am wondering if someone can explain the unclearness.


1. I would perhaps understand if someone were to argue that "important" is too ill-defined. However, I have not seen anyone say this, and if in fact this is the reason why the question is deemed unclear we can simply remove the word "important" from the question.

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    IMO, this seems like a case of using close votes as super-downvotes: it's a bad question, but not an unclear one. – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '18 at 17:57
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    Maybe unclear wasn’t the best close reason but it looks to contain 3 questions so would be close worthy so is rightfully closed just perhaps the wrong reason. And to be honest the last questions seems somewhat unclear as it isn’t related in any way to the included quote. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 3 '18 at 18:47
  • @TheLethalCarrot We could debate whether the question is too broad because it contains three questions. I would argue that it's not because it is not really asking three distinct questions. The additional questions are really just suggesting possibilities. (I am almost certain that if it was posted as three separate question posts, two of them would be closed as duplicates.) But in any case we can't have that debate if the question is closed as unclear, which is why it is important for the close reasons to be applied precisely. – Alex Dec 3 '18 at 19:00
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    So does this mean I can ask "What does Spock's eyebrow raising have to do with the Enterprise-D's left warp nacelle?" and not have it closed as unclear? Because allowing such questions seems like a Bad Idea to me. – Kevin Dec 3 '18 at 20:11
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    @Randal'Thor - Agreed. It's perfectly clear what this terrible question is asking. That being said, it's too broad. – Valorum Dec 3 '18 at 20:39
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    @Kevin There are a lot of bad questions which could potentially be asked and downvoted into the sewers without being worthy of closing. – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '18 at 21:43
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    @Randal'Thor: Of course. But I agree with Valorum that this is not a valid question, because 1) it doesn't indicate why the asker would believe that these elements are related (so we have no standard for judging the relative quality of answers) and 2) it seems incredibly unlikely that there is any canon evidence of a connection here, so any answer would be directionless speculation. "We don't know" is a valid answer, but only when it's plausible the question could have had a "real" answer. That is not the case here. – Kevin Dec 4 '18 at 2:26
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I didn't vote to close, but I think "unclear" is appropriate because the OP hasn't explained why he thinks there might be a connection. Since it's a misunderstanding on the OP's part and there isn't a connection, it's unclear to me why there could be a connection.

As one of the comments on the question says:

It doesn't refer to anything. It's just a mildly humorous moment where Seamus mishears...

And as a comment here says:

...does this mean I can ask "What does Spock's eyebrow raising have to do with the Enterprise-D's left warp nacelle?" ...

I think that just as it's unclear why you'd think that Spock's eyebrow has any connection to a warp nacelle, it's unclear why a character mishearing a word could indicate some connection to a similar word.

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    I would say that what you are describing is an unclear motivation for the question, rather than an unclear question. If a question is based on a misunderstanding, a comment or an answer can explain the misunderstanding. – Alex Dec 3 '18 at 21:28
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    @Alex It's unclear to me what the OP means by, "How is Grin related to Ignotus Peverell...?" Do they mean is "The Grim" (as explained by Trewlawney) related? Do they mean "The Grin" - some other magical beast or concept that the OP thinks they've heard of? Do they mean is the word "grin" related? – Ward Dec 3 '18 at 21:37
  • Why assume it means something other than what’s referenced in the post? – Alex Dec 5 '18 at 23:05
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    Questions based on misunderstandings are allowed. The question doesn't establish a connection between the Grim and Grindelwald because there isn't one. As Alex says, that's what a good answer would point out. The question doesn't have to establish that sort of connection. Of course, the misunderstanding in this case is pretty stupid, which merits downvotes. It isn't at all unclear what the OP meant in my view, based on the quote they provided. – The Dark Lord Dec 7 '18 at 17:54
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I didn't vote to close, but I would have. It's poorly worded, makes assumptions and then asks about the assumptions, then it introduces a new question.

What even is the OP talking about?

Let's break it down. The question title reads:

What does Grin refer to in Harry Potter?

Ok, so it looks like the OP is interested in some "Grin" (which by the way, immediately sounds weird as it makes no sense in HP context).

Then the body starts with:

Are there any other important references aside from this one:

Other? Other than what? The OP has not established any context about how or why this is important.

Then, they go on to quote the part (which I won't transcribe here), which clearly shows that Fin has misheard "Grin" and therefore "Grin" has nothing to do with anything, it's simply a set up for some exposition about the real subject of that scene: The Grim.

Then they follow their assumption and are still stuck on that one point:

Could Grin be short for Grindewald?

Well yeah, "Grin" is technically short for (or at least makes up a part of) Grindelwald. But so what? The OP has fallen into the X,Y,Z problem.

How is Grin related to Ignotus Peverell and the Cloak of Invisibility?

Completely unrelated to the rest of the post. This is the part that really makes it unclear (if it wasn't already before)!

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    "Other than what" is other than the quote supplied in the question. Beyond that, this has the beginnings of a good answer to the question, were it not closed. – Alex Dec 5 '18 at 22:28
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    Poor wording and assumptions are reasons for downvotes, not closing. If the question itself is clear then it should be left open. Admittedly, if there was no quote supplied then it wouldn't be clear what they meant. But with the quote it's pretty obvious where they've gone wrong. I think your answer shows that you know what they meant. – The Dark Lord Dec 7 '18 at 17:56
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The question is clear. Bad, but clear. It should've been left open.

I agree with Alex that bad doesn't mean unclear. If the question hadn't included a quotation then I might have had difficulty understanding what they meant (since 'the Grin' isn't a concept in Harry Potter). But with the quotation it's very clear that they've confused Grin for Grim. All the other meanderings in the question are based on this misunderstanding. Consequently, it isn't unclear and should've been left open.

The misunderstanding is a daft one. It's pretty obvious that there's no such thing as the Grin. The question also includes several additional questions on the back of its misunderstanding, which makes it slightly meandering (and so potentially a candidate for being closed for being too broad). But the aspects which make it poor are grounds for downvoting, not closing. Bad questions should be downvoted and left open so that other users can explain to the question-asker exactly why their question is so bad. As it stands, no answer can be given so the asker has no explanation for where they went wrong (except in the comments).

I think this potentially goes to a point about where we stand on really terrible questions, which in turn goes to our rationale as a site. Some people perhaps think that some questions are so poor or distasteful that they should be closed no-matter-what, even if that's on an erroneous reason. (I'm basing that not just on this question but on others too). I think this produces the unwelcome outcome that bad questions don't get answers. There are thousands of questions on this site. Most are not going to be given a very positive outcome (10+ upvotes etc.). Some will be very bad indeed (like this one). These questions nevertheless deserve answering, as long as they're on-topic. That's the reason we exist, right? I don't think that closing bad questions which are on-topic is consistent with this. Indeed, awful questions like this are actually ridiculously easy to answer. There's no need to close them. They should be downvoted and left open.

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    This adds the point that I meant to include in the question, namely, that there is a perfectly valid simple answer to the question that could be posted if the question was left open. And there's even a gold badge for providing a good answer to a bad question. – Alex Dec 7 '18 at 18:31
  • I think the issue here is that this question was closed for the wrong reason, not that it shouldn't have been closed. – Valorum Dec 7 '18 at 18:42
  • OK, if it's too broad, I've now voted to re-close it as such. – Kevin Dec 7 '18 at 21:53
  • @Kevin It doesn't strike me as too broad tbh, although I can see how others would disagree. I think it's clear what the main question is and that an answer which answered the title question would suffice. – The Dark Lord Dec 7 '18 at 23:40
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I think the problem is that they are bringing a new and wholly unfamiliar idea into an unrelated question. Someone reading it may first find the question ridiculous ("what? Clearly there is no actual Grin"), and then immediately be sideswiped by the suggestion that Grin is short for Grindelwald ("whoa, what the?... Since when?").

A better way to get to that answer may be to ask if Grindelwald has ever been called by any other names, nicknames, or short names. If "Grin" turns up as one of those, then they might ask about The Grin, and cite the answer to the previous question.

  • It wasn't my question, by the way. I'm merely the one that brought it up on Meta. I certainly agree that the question could have been asked differently (better), but as the asker hasn't been seen in the two weeks since asking it, it is unlikely that any edits will be made. My point here was simply that regardless of how much you may dislike the question, I don't believe the question itself was unclear. Indeed, once it was reopened I posted an answer, which I think properly addressed the question. – Alex Dec 17 '18 at 6:24
  • @Alex That's fair - "unclear" isn't what it is, but it's still a somewhat poorly asked question. Perhaps the problem is that the choice-of-closing-reasons window doesn't provide you with something that fits, but the question still feels to since like it needs to be closed. So they go with the choice that's closest - "unclear." That's my guess anyway. And I'm changing "you" to "they" - sorry, forgot to look at the author's name! – Misha R Dec 17 '18 at 6:45

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