I am wondering who the target audience of the site is. We obviously want to start to attract big minds in the field of English, but does this primarily entail pedantic usagists or students of English linguistics or philology? Do we want to help write essays, or determine the grammaticality of a sentence (and why), or both? I'm feeling a pull in two directions, and though I'm tempted to label usage (especially when concerned with orthography) as bad, it does have some benefits, particularly in popularity of the community.

Once we have a good idea of who this site is meant to be serving, we can start promoting it. Any ideas there? I fully intend on passing this by word-of-mouth, but are ads on prominent dictionary sites for example worthwhile? Do we want to promote to that, and that large of an audience?

[edit] I'm bumping this question up because we're working on site promotion at Stack Exchange HQ. What do you all think is the best way to go about this? Right now, I'm following a bunch of blogs and twitter accounts. Is there anyone who isn't a SE user that I should be paying special attention to? Where are you following these people, and why are they interesting/important/influential? Any ideas would be really helpful. --Lauren Ψ, CHAOS Team

3 Answers 3


This is going to get the attention of language mavens and linguists. It will be interesting to see how well they get along, since they have a fundamentally different view on how language works. The former see right and wrong English, generally assigning right to the higher register and prestige dialects. The linguist on the other hand tends to mark anything that a fluent speaker says as right, even if the dialect is not prestigious.

Like any SO site, it works best for questions which can be objectively answered. This proposes a problem from the language mavens because they are right on account of authority, not for any scientific reason.

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    I think the reasonable approach is to take an approach like Wikipedia's "Neutral Point of View". Good answers will report facts of usage and facts of what prescriptivists say, synthesize all the facts, and let readers decide for themselves. This is how the better usage guides (such as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage) already work anyhow.
    – nohat Mod
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 20:45
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    @nohat: it's interesting that you can talk about neutral point of view while simultaneously classifying answers or usage guides as "good" or "better", implying your views on answers and language guides aren't neutral.
    – delete
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 3:45
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    @Shinto Sherlock my views are anything but neutral. I don’t think I have anywhere claimed otherwise, and I have gone out of my way to be plain about my biases. I am disappointed that you have stooped to implying that I am a hypocrite.
    – nohat Mod
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 7:25
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    I feel the same way as nohat, and have no problem suggesting in the same breath "this is what people say" and "this is considered standard for formal writing or speaking in this context", even if they contradict each other. Most important to me is that people are aware of which is which — that is, if someone answers that saying X is wrong, but it is actually just nonstandard, I will make certain to point that out.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Sep 6, 2010 at 15:21
  • @Kosmonaut: +1 I agree. Indeed, "wrong" and "nonstandard" are not the same thing.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 13:53

What does everyone think about hosting a meetup? I've gone through the meetup website and have seen a bunch of ESL meetups, and one for the Contrastive Linguistics Association. Would trying to combine with something like that be on-topic? If not, what kinds of activities would be appropriate for a meetup to promote EL&U?


I think you should promote to people from all over the Internet, from all domains of activity. The way it is now it looks like programmers' English corner. I think a big percentage of people here are programmers. Yes, they are awesome users, but it makes a bias.
One solution is to ease the creation of SE sites which are not about computers. I counted 27 out of 59 (about a half) SE sites computer related.

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