I have been speaking English as a first language for 23 years, I use a dictionary to expand my vocabulary every week, I read a lot, every day, and I actively criticize grammar when I hear it. Because I think about grammar a lot and try to figure out the best way to write and say things, this site naturally attracts me. However, I am not interested in asking simple questions relating to finding a word (because I have a good memory of words) or grammar (because I have an extensive understanding of the rules of grammar). But, it seems that the questions I want to ask on this site are too advanced, because of the close votes I have gotten. I think that is wrong, because if this site can't cater for my advanced questions relating to the English language, then which site can? I think too many simple questions are asked here, when these types of questions (being asked by people still learning how to speak English) should be on English Language Learners.SE.

My questions that have had close votes include:

  1. Asking about a French word that is used in English (undeleted now).

What is the French phrase meaning that diners are waited on?

What is the French phrase which means that diners at a restaurant are waited on at their tables (as opposed to going up to a counter)?

FYI, many words from other languages are used in English, such as Latin phrases or words assumed instead of creating a new word, such as déjà vu, patio, masala, piñata or naïve (note that even non-standard letters are used).

  1. Asking for clarification on the difference between the everyday definitions of socialism and communism (a very recent question).
    This question goes more into depth about the definitions and connotations of those two words in order to truly understand what the words mean. I find that many people throw those words around emotively without stopping to find out what they mean, and, as I mentioned in the comments, this led to it being taught incorrectly in a high school syllabus when the teachers tried to figure out the difference. I asked it on ELU because I thought I would reach an audience comprised of the average English first-language speaker.

This meta post is about the conflict I have between the purpose of this site and my needs. I think first-language speakers who want to ask advanced questions about the language should be given more space to ask questions on this site.

  • 1
    Unfortunately, you received a very low quality answer by someone who thought they were being witty. Note, it has received three downvotes, one from me. I believe your question is based on politics, not on definition or meaning. Depending on which side of the fence people sit on, you're not going to get an objective answer, especially from your average American speaker who believes socialism is evil, and is equivalent to State control, and Big Government. An Italian might argue that communism is about equality, tolerance, and atheism (I'm generalising, but you get the picture).
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 20, 2017 at 16:06
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    Users are perhaps keeping clear of a subjective and possibly touchy topic, there's enough agitation and conflict in the real world w/o creating another one on a website.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 20, 2017 at 16:09
  • I have to agree with the others; if this site doesn't fit your needs, another might. I don't think it's fair to ask an entire community to mesh to your needs, especially when those needs do not line up to the intention of the community
    – Hank
    Jun 20, 2017 at 16:55
  • 6
    Many users would welcome questions from advanced English speakers featuring subtle points of English. But it's hard to write a good question, and takes practice and study of good questions. Your question about the French phrase (which turned out not to be French) might have survived if you had said "French phrase commonly used in English" and given more detail about what you meant.
    – ab2
    Jun 20, 2017 at 20:08
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    If the 'french phrase' were edited and reworded, I think it is a good fit (voted to undelete and reopen).
    – Mitch
    Jun 21, 2017 at 14:06
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    The socialism/communism is probably too opinion based. It's not entirely the content of these questions that are problematic but the nature of the fit to SE and ELU. Oh....@Mari-LouA and Hank already said that
    – Mitch
    Jun 21, 2017 at 14:09
  • My problem with your question, How do most people distinguish between the two words [socialism and communism] is not that it's opinion-based, but that I have no idea what "most people" think. Reputable pollsters have trouble predicting the next election. Perhaps Gallup has surveyed the public on their views. It's a research question. Also note that the idea that you are reaching "the average English first-language speaker" on this site doesn't make much sense, and I don't think you meant to actually try to poll us.
    – Xanne
    Jun 24, 2017 at 5:01
  • @Xanne thanks for that feedback. I think your comment would be more appropriate on the question itself. I didn't think we needed a survey about those words, but if it's that complicated to have a common understanding (which I didn't think it was), then I don't know why people use those words in the first place.
    – ahorn
    Jun 26, 2017 at 9:18

2 Answers 2


I cannot say anything about your question on 'the French word for table service'because the Q has disappeared, but I should think your second question regarding 'how most people would differentiate between the meanings of socialism and communism'has been put on hold mainly because your explanation within the question might have created the impression that this is a question about politics rather than English, going by the stated reason on the 'put-on-hold' banner.

I seem to have managed to understand your point that you are looking not for an academic or political definition but an everyday 'layperson's' interpretation of the semantic difference between the 2 terms -- however, answers that tried to address this aspect would be off-topic here for being considered 'primarily opinion-based.'

Since you have been a member here for over 2 years I am sure you know how Stack Exchange works. ELU has nothing against 'advanced users' of English like you and me, but expects every question to be well-constructed, lucid and focused on some specific problem, which is not always possible for us to achieve while writing a question.

Having seemed to understand what you were trying to ask regarding socialism snd communism, I have written a comment that attempts to bring out the generic difference in the way I have noted the 2 terms used in ordinary (non-academic) media -- please see the comments section under your original question.

  • MariLouA's edit added the entire text from the deleted question, and it is all there is.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 21, 2017 at 9:11
  • @NVZ in that case the question would be extremely brief and not clear. Jun 21, 2017 at 12:34
  • you can see the question quoted in this meta question.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 21, 2017 at 12:35
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    @NVZ yes I see it -- as a very brief Q which is also not clear, there were multiple possible reasons why it got deleted! OP later clarified thst the word 'French' was used in it by mistake and OP was looking for an English phrase: 'table service.' Jun 21, 2017 at 12:37

Everyone is welcome on ELU, not just advanced users of English. Quoting TimLymington,

Stack Exchange, as a network, does not discriminate between users. If you ask thoughtful questions and give useful answers, you will gain reputation, acquire privileges, and become more respected; it does not matter whether you are still at school or are a university professor.

I can see the now-deleted question, asking specifically for a particular French word on a site dedicated to English, has only a few words in the question, does not include the research already done, lacks enough details for us to work with, and it could be closed as too localised, as well.

Having said that, I'm curious, and I'd like to know what that French word is, perhaps, covfefe? ;)

The second question is deep, I agree, but it's deeper than English, and it's going to reach a discussion about governments, society, politics and all that jazz.

There are over 150 Stack Exchange communities, and I'm sure there must be one better suited for an in-depth explanation of socialism and communism.

Here's one from Politics Stack Exchange:
What are the main differences between different types of Marxism?

  • Thanks for your answer, with useful links. The phrase I was thinking about in the first-mentioned question was not French; it was "table service". I think I just associated dining with French when trying to think of the appropriate phrase.
    – ahorn
    Jun 20, 2017 at 16:57
  • @ahorn Read more: wikiwand.com/en/Foodservice and wikiwand.com/en/Silver_service
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 20, 2017 at 17:59
  • @ahorn It should also be noted that most users cannot see deleted questions. NVZ can but I believe it is a 10k (moderator tools) privilege.
    – Hank
    Jun 20, 2017 at 19:04
  • I'm voting against this mainly because Too Localized was discontinued as a close reason long ago, since it was proven to be highly problematic in a variety of ways, so its mention taints the answer. The most relevant problem is who can really determine what's too narrow? It seems as if the requested term is filling a lexical gap that is useful to some people. Also, unless a relevant synonym is mentioned, we usually skip the research requirement for term requests, since there isn't really a good way to research those without a thesaurus.
    – Tonepoet
    Jun 22, 2017 at 14:33
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    @Tonepoet yeah, thanks. Added a strikethrough. Can't rewrite it right now.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 22, 2017 at 14:36

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