10

I am blatantly stealing an idea from IPS, which in turn was inspired from Worldbuilding, which in turn was inspired from Data Science, and I'm sure there's more of these network-wide.. I recommend visiting some of these first to get some context: PPCG, Code Review, Health, Unix & Linux, Mathematics, Sci-Fi. -- While I was initially in strong disagreement with the question on IPS, reading these others got me convinced that there's some benefit to having this.

This is an unusual meta question, but in the spirit of learning about how users relate to the site and what could make the main site better, I believe these stories could be a valuable and on-topic contribution.

I'd like to hear your stories: about how you ended up on ELU, how it has helped you, and perhaps more importantly, what keeps you here.

This is strictly about your relation to the site, in the sense that reading your story might inspire other users to stay active and become top users here.

I know I should lead by example, but let's assume that my answer to another meta is sorta my story so far, and if interested, you can see my story on IPS as well.

So, let us get to know each other a bit better. What do you say? What's your story?

7

I was interested in Stack Exchange's recreational maths arm, landing at EL&U only via Hot Network Questions.

It took me some time to come to grips with the various pockets of information tucked away. Each pocket was fun to explore, though sometimes hard to find again. The 'help' pages are so generic that they're not really all that helpful in terms of how to operate the site ... even if you can find the pages. :)

The blog and chat pockets were perhaps the most interesting to me. Unfortunately, by the time I joined, the blog was just winding down. Matt faithfully maintained a chat room for the blog, sending out periodic invitations to discuss the blog (it was probably automated, but still :) - sadly, still works in both senses). I turned up eagerly but I don't think anyone was posting anything of substance by then. The invitations stopped soon after, followed by a long quiescent period, after which Stack Exchange decided to close off blogs site-wide. Ours is still accessible if you know the URL, though that URL is even less accessible than that of the help pages. NVZ and muru helped me migrate the content to Meta, where Matt kindly gave it faq status.

Chat was where I got to know some of the regulars here. It was fun to interact with others who have a programming background and an interest in the nuances of natural language. If we want to keep ELU alive and interesting, we need to maintain and add to the community of regulars. As with research, it's the collaboration and thrill of learning & discovery that pulls people in and keeps people in. The publishing of results is, in a sense, only a by-product of the community's interactions. Although that by-product is valuable, we wouldn't get nearly half as much good stuff without people wanting to be a regular part of the community.

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    Thanks for sharing. The blog archive was a great idea. :) – NVZ Sep 27 '17 at 2:26
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    Haha! A bit of a slog until you and muru came up with that translation thing and helped. It was completed in a flash after that! I've used a few of the articles with some new people - I think at least one or two even appreciated them. – Lawrence Sep 27 '17 at 3:56
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    "it's the collaboration and thrill of learning & discovery that pulls people in and keeps people in.The publishing of results is, in a sense, only a by-product of the community's interactions.Although that by-product is valuable, we wouldn't get nearly half as much good stuff without people wanting to be a regular part of the community." __ oh so true; as in why else should we be writing answers here and asking the occasional question: it's not as if this is our workplace is it!That's why I'd prefer ELU less contentious. +1 & please post the link to the blog archive if possible, @Lawrence. – English Student Sep 28 '17 at 0:28
  • Thanks @EnglishStudent. I've added the link to my answer. At the moment, it's also the top result returned when you search Meta for "archive". – Lawrence Sep 28 '17 at 0:38
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    Great work and thanks to all who helped preserve this valuable resource, @Lawrence! – English Student Sep 28 '17 at 0:41
7

I have been brought up on English although it's not my native language. Extract from my profile page:

I was born in India and have always lived here; I was educated in English from earliest childhood at good schools, but I have never been an English grammar-cruncher, preferring to learn the language by feel, usage and a GREAT DEAL OF READING, so as to have developed an instinctive tuning for good grammar and usage without ever having learnt the 'rules and regulations' of good grammar. In fact they don't teach them here, but only teach usage, and students are evaluated by setting them practical tasks in grammar and composition!

My real interest is fiction and Literature which are banned here, but it was a thrilling discovery for me to find this vast site dedicated to the English language. ELU was my first StackExchange site and I started out as an excited new user in April 2017, asking and answering questions, and racking up the reputation points for a few months. I have really enjoyed discussing the 'finer points' of the language and usage with a wide variety of members. Made some good friends. My communicative English also improved as a consequence.

However my interest in ELU has dropped off lately. Reason: this site is too contentious and arguments occur far too often over essentially minor points of syntax or grammar. As @uhoh said in an earlier answer here,

ELU is a bit of a tough room

Related question on the meaning of 'tough room':

Question about the meaning of the phrase 'tough room'

This meta question getting closed as off-topic soon after it was asked proves that to my satisfaction, and this is my take on that point (originally posted as a comment):

It's a tough room @NVZ because the dedicated users take the English language (and themselves relative to it) too seriously. Good language is certainly important for good communication but it's not useful to be fanatical about what is essentially a utilitarian invention: being active on a selected very few other Stack Exchange sites gave me the sense of perspective that we have been splitting hairs far too often and for far too many hours, here on ELU.

However I remain a frequent visitor here and do believe that ELU is a valuable resource both in archive form and in real time, for anyone who wants to make their English better. The large number of generous contributions by senior members towards enhancing our understanding of the language is deeply appreciated.

  • Thank you for sharing. I hope you check out Literature and Science Fiction & Fantasy as well. You will like it. Good luck! :) – NVZ Sep 24 '17 at 20:11
  • I been looking at those sites and plan to participate more there, @NVZ! – English Student Sep 24 '17 at 20:19
  • Hello English, where have you been? :) – NVZ Jul 3 at 4:27
4

I'm having trouble reconstructing the chain that let me to ELU. Sometime in late 2014 or early 2015 I read an article in, I think (but I am not sure), The New Scientist on the topic of 15,000 year old ultra-conserved words. The story had appeared earlier, in much shorter form, in the Washington Post.

I went poking around the Internet to learn more (the concept had a lot of critics), and wound up on Linguistics SE. Linguistics SE was too specialized for me to contribute to, but, in the course of poking around, I wound up by accident on ELU, where it seemed I could contribute.

Somewhere about the same time, I had a vexing question about Federal Income Tax (US), and, again in poking around the Internet, I found Personal Finance and Money SE, where I asked my question and got the answer I needed.

I don't know which came first -- 15,000 year old words or the tax question; I could research it, but I'm not going to.

The point is, I came here circuitously by following Internet links that had little or no connection to English Language and Usage. I came, I read, I liked. Moreover, I was under a lot of stress at the time, and ELU was more effective than Xanax in distracting my mind, although it has more side effects.

Will I stay? Probably, but I may not be as active. The quality of the site seems to fluctuate, and right now it seems down. Whether it is the site or my perception, I don't know. I stay for the relatively few good questions, for the perceptive and amusing discussions (dirty word, I know) and for the little glow I get when I can easily solve someone's problem -- sometimes in a comment followed by a VTC.

  • Thank you for sharing. I felt like engaging with the community would help in some way regarding the decline in participation. Perhaps we're overly attached to rules and are driving away the enthusiasts. I hope things improve soon. I hate to give up hope. :) – NVZ Sep 24 '17 at 21:05
3

I'm here to learn more about how the English language works.

Since most people around me these days are native Chinese speakers with varying levels of experience with English, I frequently come across situations that put me face-to-face with the English language and how little I understand about it even though I constantly use it both to express and to take in complex concepts.

I think it will take some time to do so, and to get used to interacting with this site.


I participate in a few different stackexchange (SE) sites and generally ask far more questions than I answer because the amount I want to know is far larger than the amount I do know.

Each SE site is like a different country with different cultural norms and practices. Participating in several lets me learn more about what is common to all and what is unique to each. Interacting with humans electronically can sometimes be quite a challenge, so coming at it from different directions required by multi-site participation gives me a bit of new insight and experience.

SE's 'prime directive' of be nice is particularly fascinating. The internet is an opportunity for people to interact with others with a much wider range of differences than ever before. To me, SE is a giant experiment (intentional or not) to see how productive human interaction can be, through the use of a small and carefully curated set of rules. For example, questions must be questions, answers must be answers, and comments should try to be helpful and productive comments; (ok, or jokes).

So in addition to my fascination with how the English language works, I've tried to start participating here because in my small sample of SE sites, ELU is a bit of a tough room and therefore there's something to be learned here beyond grammar and syntax.

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    Thank you for sharing, uhoh. And glad to hear that those votes were reversed for you. The system works, albeit rather slowly. – NVZ Sep 14 '17 at 7:30
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    Definitely a tough room here, eh. This has been closed for a while now :) – NVZ Sep 24 '17 at 2:32
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    Really nice answer @ uhoh! I appreciate your attitude. It's a tough room @NVZ because the dedicated users take the English language (and themselves relative to it) too seriously. Good language is certainly important for good communication but it's not useful to be fanatical about what is essentially a utilitarian invention: being active on a selected very few other Stack Exchange sites gave me the sense of perspective that we have been splitting hairs far too often and for far too many hours, here on ELU. – English Student Sep 24 '17 at 19:55
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    @EnglishStudent Yep. Now's a good time, in case you have a story to share, before it's closed again. Your initial thoughts about the site, the reception you got etc. and how you feel about it's future or stuff like that. :) And be ready for downvotes, just in case. :) – NVZ Sep 24 '17 at 19:57
3

I came to the stack exchange network on the recommendation of an engineering programmer colleague, and found all sorts of interesting distractions through the Hot Network Questions.

Coming on questions through HNQ they were already well-answered by the time I got to them. This meant that I read a lot of answers before I ever posted my own. The answers I read were both good answers and poor answers, but the comments on the poor answers as to how they fell short of the accepted standards of the site allowed me to avoid making the same mistakes when I did start posting.

ELU doesn't help me in any way really. It's an entertaining distraction. But a distraction during the working day isn't really that helpful...

The main reason I stick around is because (in the words of a colleague describing my contributions to my work's intranet pages) I enjoy the use and misuse of the English language.

  • Thank you for sharing, Andy. I also lurked around for 5 years before actually posting my first question. :) – NVZ Sep 26 '17 at 16:43
  • 5 Years? :O I don't think lurked for more than about 2-3 months. – AndyT Sep 26 '17 at 16:50
2

about how you ended up on ELU, how it has helped you, and perhaps more importantly, what keeps you here.

I am a huge fan of Justin Bieber and I came here for information about Canadian English. I am doing research. It's provided data related to my research. My research is in the field of sociolinguistics. I never actually drove a Plymouth Satellite. I have a downvote to upvote ratio of 5 or 6 to 1. I dv bad questions. The site is full of them. Thanks for asking. arm fuzzies.

  • LOL. But thanks for sharing. JB is fine. – NVZ Sep 27 '17 at 2:24
  • Arm fuzzies, is that CanEng for hugs ? – Mari-Lou A Sep 27 '17 at 8:38
  • Actually, 6:1 at least. :) – NVZ Sep 27 '17 at 8:46

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