Having done diligence in reading many posts about ELU vs ELL, I've not found guidance.

Here's my problem:

I have a series of interrelated questions that may appear basic, but have deeper implications that may not be self-evident on first read. (They stem from a series of discussions / arguments on primarily ELU but also on ELL.)

My concern is perhaps unjustified, but I sense that if these are not phrased 'right' or don't explain clearly enough that there are deeper implications, on first blush, the question might be migrated to ELL. I foresee that attempting to put the deeper context around the questions initially will actually distract from the question - the depth hopefully will come out in the answers and comments.

How should I go about doing this ?

I don't want to put a dumb phrase in there like "please don't migrate this..."

(And for expediency, I'll not post a sample of question here on meta - unless you all need to see one to judge.)

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    It would probably be helpful if you briefly summarised what this "series of interrelated questions" is all about. Without knowing that I don't see how anyone can say anything here that shouldn't already be on What is the difference between ELU and ELL? (or on relevant ELL meta questions, which is where I think the "site differentiation" more properly belongs). Sep 14, 2013 at 17:45
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    Note for posterity: ELL = ell.stackexchange.com and ELU = english.stackexchange.com
    – MarkHu
    Sep 17, 2013 at 19:16
  • I've not forgotten your good suggestion above @FumbleFingers. Although I accepted @ Mari-Lou's answer, the larger discussion following @ Matt's answer below turns out to be so fundamental to my original question that I've decided to hold off on these series of questions until ELU+ELL+Linguistics decides to get its collective act together :)) Sep 24, 2013 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


Just go for it!

If the question shows research and you can demonstrate that you have at least taken the time and bother to do this, I'm sure your question(s) will be answered on ELU. It is often true that a seemingly “banal” or “basic” question can lead to an interesting discussion and reveal untold gems.

Here is a nice summary (taken from @J.R's answer to a related question) that shows the elements of a good question:

  1. Let me explain why I'm asking this question.

  2. Let me ask the question.

  3. Let me tell you what I found when I tried to find the answer myself.

  4. Let me explain why I'm still confused.

  • Trying to figure out how to summarize your summary, Mari-Lou. :)) Those four lines should be etched into all the "how to ask a question" help boxes (you know, when we click "ask a question") on every single Stack Exchange site. Yup. even on the the programmers' sites, where we like terse, code-like answers. +1 and a happy check mark. :)) Sep 17, 2013 at 0:58
  • @HowardPautz I absolutely agree but the summary is not mine, it is J.R.'s! If 50% of all posted questions followed these simple guidelines; we'd have more questions being upvoted and fewer put on hold; migrated; or closed.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 17, 2013 at 4:10
  • @jwpat7 you've worded it perfectly and I should have put J.R.'s summary in block quotes to begin with in order to avoid any ambiguity. Thank you for the edit.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 22, 2013 at 18:38

This discussion about where the boundary lies between ELU and ELL has come up a lot of times ever since ELL was first concepted, but just to give you my personal opinion as one of the mods on ELL.

First things first:

  • The difference between ELU and ELL is not about difficulty of question. ELL has lots of hard questions that wouldn't fit on ELU, and ELU has lots of easy questions that wouldn't fit on ELL.

  • The difference between ELU and ELL is not about who asks the questions. You absolutely can be a regular on both (and we have questioners and answerers who are highly regarded regulars on both).

  • ELL is categorically not a place for poor quality questions.

  • ELL is not a junior site of ELU or vice-versa. They focus on entirely different topics.

The exact line between ELU and ELL is somewhat subject to debate, but as a rough guide:

  • ELU really is about the (academic) study of English and analysis of English usage

  • ELL is really about helping people learn to communicate effectively in modern, everyday English

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    Both sites are the same if you ask me
    – user36722
    Sep 16, 2013 at 11:10
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    @axrwkr Not true. Have you visited ELL or tried to answer a question there? Yes, there are similarities but ELL (in my mind at least) is really aimed at learners and non-native speakers of English who have a zillion questions on things that you or I would take for granted as being obvious. However, answering those type of questions in a clear, concise, accurate and illustrative way is a form of art... cont'd
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 16, 2013 at 11:40
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    cont'd; It's not easy, believe you me. (Now for a non-native speaker that last expression, believe you me, might cause them some confusion. A native speaker might very well ask a question about its origins and whether there are similar examples on ELU. A non-native might ask what it means, and should do so, on ELL.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 16, 2013 at 11:42
  • @Matt - astounding those last two lines --- I posted essentially the same two lines (don't recall if it was on ELL or ELU), literally typing : "ELL = everyday English vs. ELU = academic, research English" ... that got an immediate one or two down votes - I deleted my post in immediate frustration. (I get a sense of hubris in this place - sorry. @ Mari-Lou A <- you and a few other folks are exceptions to this :)) thx ! ) Sep 17, 2013 at 0:16
  • @axrwkr: I think there's a difference between questions like this one, and the ones this user is asking, both in terms of question depth, and in OP needs. Some don't want to see the board flooded with basic questions, but they certainly don't want to tell the learner to "bug off" either. The solution we are trying is a second community dedicated to helping the learner whose questions are often too fundamental to appeal to most ELUers. Put ELL's 3000 questions on ELU – where does ELU's stock go?
    – J.R.
    Sep 18, 2013 at 9:51
  • @HowardPautz: When you counterpoise "academic, research English" with "everyday English", you don't get "study of English". You get every question that a postgraduate student such as I would have regarding his thesis and publication in research journals. Research described in English, but not research of English.
    – Ben Voigt
    Sep 21, 2013 at 1:25
  • @BenVoigt ok, that angle makes sense - and (to me at least) also reenforces the how difficult it will be to keep these sites clearly delineated. Frankly, I'm stumped why folks with a high degree of competency in English can't seem to find the right two words (plus "English") to describe what's going on. Sep 22, 2013 at 0:06
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    @HowardPautz: I'm not sure that's a fair analysis. ELU's name dates from before ELL was concepted and ELL's name was (and IMO is) a placeholder whilst it becomes more defined. The names of ELU and ELL are not evidence that we can't define a line of separation. Rather, the names have not changed because the line of separation have not been defined. And that is what this debate is about.
    – Matt
    Sep 22, 2013 at 0:33
  • @Matt To me, it seems making this work will require changing ELU's name too, post-facto. "Usage" is like a black hole, sucking in anything that comes within its gravitational field - that field being a combinition of "Internet" and " 'help' with English." Sep 22, 2013 at 0:39
  • @HowardPautz: I agree. But we should not do it before we have decided what the line is. ELU's name being all-encompassing is not evidence that ELL and ELU are fundamentally inseparable and we need to abandon ship and re-merge, just evidence that we haven't separated them yet. Once the dividing lines are firmly established and ELL graduates, ELU will probably change its name at that point, after consultation with Stack Exchange Inc staff and the ELU community here on meta.
    – Matt
    Sep 22, 2013 at 0:43
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    @Matt thanks - is there some way to consolidate all these discussions across both ELL & ELU's metas ? At least create some 'master' thread on ELL meta and refer everyone to that link ? If one of you moderators or SE owners can do this under the rubric of "Wither ELL - an open discussion" then maybe we 'normal' users can voice ideas without getting clobbered. What do you think ? Sep 22, 2013 at 1:09
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    @RoaringFish: It is SE. But that doesn't mean I'm interested in it. ELU->ELL migrations are not particularly common (maybe 5 or so a week) and are more common than the other way around because it is ELU that is having the identity crisis, not ELL. People on ELL know what ELL is about and tend to post clearly ELL-related topics (we migrate 2 or 3 questions a month to ELU), but ELU gets large numbers of learners posting questions because English.StackExchange.Com redirects to ELU, not to ELL.
    – Matt
    Sep 24, 2013 at 7:52
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    @RoaringFish thx for reinforcing the underlying issues. @ Matt, I just reread slowly and carefully this entire thread, launched from a simple question that's evidently not so simple. Despite all your commendable efforts at explaining the possible ELU and ELL dividing lines, I am more confused than ever whats da whosit. Now, Roaring Fish mentions there's a linguistics beta in addition to ELU. AHHRRGG! Ok, so you're uninterested in their site, but its appearance indicates not that "ELU [...] is having an identity crisis," but rather that ELU may be exhibiting multiple personality disorder. Sep 24, 2013 at 22:47
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    @Matt It's difficult to buy that. Empirically, if it were so easy, this discussion wouldn't be sprouting up all over. Again, as mentioned, the problems are inherent in the word "usage." Sure, I understand the ELU name could be changed. (I won't believe that until I see it.) Of the concerns posted, it seems only a few will be alleviated after this "routine migration" has commenced. From your criteria, the bulk of the recent posts on ELU should move to ELL --- you'll wish you could script that routine. And, at the deep end of the pool, Linguistics could drain a lot of ELU. What's left ? Sep 25, 2013 at 0:16
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    @HowardPautz: I'm not a mod on ELU or Linguistics (they have their own mods who can fight their own corners). I'm a mod on ELL. And even if I wanted to, it wouldn't be appropriate for me to do anything without getting community consensus on ELU and ELL. Which is exactly what I am doing right now by discussing this right here on ELU and ELL's metas.
    – Matt
    Sep 25, 2013 at 3:40

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