Does the plain-English part of a question even matter?
I'm not recommending that the plain-English part doesn't help make questions better, but given the approach we've taken towards answers on CodeReview:
Reviewers may comment on any part of the code Feel free to call attention to specific areas you are concerned about (performance, formatting, etc). However, any aspect of the code posted is fair game for feedback and criticism.
How much does the plain-English part of a question actually matter in determining whether or not a question is on-topic?
If I post a chunk of code that performs tasks A, B, and C, and a plain-English request for help expanding my code to performing task D, is my code truly off-topic?
Asking for expansion of my code to performing Task D is clearly outside the scope of CodeReview. But there's plenty of code to be reviewed in the question. The only actual problem is that asking for help with Task D encourages off-topic answers--that is to say, answers that don't really review code.
The plain-English part is asking about code not yet written, which is expressly off-topic and is one of our vote-to-close reasons. But if we were to simply edit away the plain-English part of the question and look only at the code, which the help center gives reviewers a warrant to address any and all aspects of, the code could actually serve for some good, on-topic, CodeReview style answers.
"Enough reviewable code" is a phrase that gets thrown around on the meta when we're discussing why a question should be left open. Sometimes the fact that a question has "enough reviewable code" is used as an excuse to keep a question open.
If we're going to err on the side of leaving questions open, and having "enough reviewable code" is one of the criteria that goes toward leaving a question open, should we at least edit out the plain-English parts that make the question a bad fit for CodeReview? Or is it better to close to question and comment that the question is off-topic because it's asking for X which is off-topic here, but if the asker edits that question out, he could still get his code reviewed?
For the record, I want to emphasize that I certainly know that a good plain-English section can certainly make a good question great. And I'm not saying questions lacking a plain-English section are good, but I do think a question that's going to be left open is better with no plain-English section than it is to be left open with a plain-English section asking for off-topic stuff.