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I'm Laura, a product manager at Stack Exchange.

Before I get into my announcement, I just want to let you guys know that we are not changing anything regarding English Language & Usage. This post is just to keep you informed of some things we're discussing at a high level for the whole network.

I wanted to let this community know that I've started a discussion over on Meta Stack Overflow about some general guidelines for naming our sites, specifically our language sites, going forward. Feel free to read and discuss my post over there.

The gist of my proposal is that "& Usage" generally makes a site name longer and more difficult to say and type without adding much, if any meaning. I'd like to rename existing Stack Exchange language sites to just "X Language" and drop "& Usage" from both existing sites and any new language sites we launch in the future.

English Language & Usage is the exception to my proposed rule. We don't want to change your site's name. This name is your brand, and has been for a long time. More importantly, we have two English-language-focused sites, and I think it's necessary for both EL&U and English Language Learners to retain their longer names so that it's easier for users to disambiguate the two.

TL;DR We're having a conversation about the way we name language sites that you're welcome to participate in if that's of interest to you, but we have no plans to change the name of this site.


Update 11/25: Thanks for your feedback; we're moving ahead with dropping "& Usage" from the site titles of the other SE language sites. Those changes will be made this week. I know that some people feel ELU's name should be changed as well; I encourage you to start separate discussions about that, but if you do, please focus on this community specifically. Talk about what you think is wrong with the current name, propose new names and how the new names address the problems you have with the current one...but keep the focus on the scope and needs of this community. Do not propose new names for English Language Learners as part of the conversations here; that's a separate community (and one that has by and large been happy with their current name) that should have separate discussions on their meta if they feel their name is problematic.

As a rule, Stack Exchange does not rename sites, especially ones that are as old as ELU. If there is strong community consensus, however, we will of course discuss it with you; I don't actually see any consensus here about what specifically is wrong with the current name and what a better name would be.

  • OMG you're renaming our site! In all seriousness, our "Usage" has always seemed a but redundant to me. And, now that we have ELL, they have the usage part, at least in theory. At any rate, I support this nomenclature you propose for (other) language sites. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Nov 14 '13 at 20:32
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    I don't follow your point about EL&U and ELL since ELL is entirely about English Usage, which EL&U isn't. – Laure Nov 15 '13 at 7:51
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    @Laure: Exactly, so I was thinking out loud about the (not really serious, but theoretical) possibility of renaming ELU "EL" and ELL "EU". By the way, again theoretically, why not also drop "language"? It's pretty redundant: anyone with half a brain will know that "French" as the full title will be about the language. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Nov 18 '13 at 0:55
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    @Cerberus Dropping "language" is off the table because we do have plans to localize Stack Overflow, and maybe eventually other Stack Exchange sites, to languages other than English. Having to keep track of "English Stack Overflow" versus "English Stack Exchange" and so on is a less than ideal situation. So while I agree with you in theory, in practice I don't think it's a viable option. – Laura Nov 19 '13 at 16:15
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    @Laura: Sure, I only agreed with myself in theory too. I think most people will be happy with ELU or EL anyway. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Nov 19 '13 at 16:40
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I don't understand why English Language & Usage wouldn't be renamed. The “and usage” part is just as redundant for English as it is for other languages.

Ok, there is an existing branding, more so than for the other language sites which are still in beta. On the other hand, it is especially important for a site about the English language to have a name that makes sense and is well-chosen — an objective that “English Language & Usage” doesn't fully achieve.

The existence of English Language Learners is no argument against removing the “& Usage” part from the name of ELU. After all, English Language Learners is about usage just as much as ELU is (if not more, since about the only difference in ELL's topic is that it excludes history and etymology, which aren't about current usage and aren't focused even on past usage). If anything, ELU should drop the “& Usage” part and replace it by a different adjective or qualifier that marks it as different from ELL.

If you're looking for a reason to justify the change of name of a branded site, consider that the existence of ELL seeks to carve out part of the topic of ELU. Questions which were formerly accepted as on-topic are now rejected from ELU (even if this isn't the party line, it does happen in practice). There has been a change in scope, so it should be reflected by a change of name.

  • +1. if any site renaming should be done, I'd say EL&U should drop its U and give it to ELL. – Laure Nov 15 '13 at 9:16
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    @Laure Right. Let's rename ELL to English Language Usage and ELU to English Language & Linguistics! – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 15 '13 at 10:28
  • Congrats on the pun! Lovely. Seriously, could we propose that renaming somewhere and open a vote on it? – Laure Nov 15 '13 at 10:39
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    I think there are two challenges: You touch on one (that it makes it a little harder to differentiate between the two sites), but the bigger one is what it conveys to someone new to the site. "English Language" makes me thing it's an ESL site, while the words "grammar" or "usage" evoke (for me) a clearer sense that the site covers higher-end questions. That's just me, though. – Jaydles Nov 15 '13 at 15:55
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    @Jaydles So the name change in the other L&U sites is supposed to convey that they are second-language sites? That would go against the effort we've put into FLU (and I suspect into the other sites though I don't them well enough to be sure), where we strive to keep the site engaging for natives even though we don't get that many due to the English-only UI. That being said, I do not get this perception at all — why on earth would “English Language” convey “second language” and “grammar” or “usage” convey “higher-end questions”? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 15 '13 at 16:14
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    Why don't we call ELU Meta English? – Robin Winslow Nov 19 '13 at 15:11
  • Why not just call it "English Language"? I agree completely that Usage adds nothing and couldn't be defined consistently by the users anyway. Then it could be folded in with ELL, which there is no discernable difference between this group and. – John Lawler Nov 21 '13 at 22:17
  • @JohnLawler Indeed. (Did you mean to reply to one of the comments?) – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 21 '13 at 22:41
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I think there is nothing to worry about and nothing to be concerned.

Yes, in fact I suppose that after IL we will never see another X Language Stack Exchange, and, furthermore, existing X Language & Usage sites are close enough to be closed because the lack of questions.

Obviously, EL&U and ELL belong to a list apart, and they will remain active for a long time, changing or not changing their names.

That's all.

  • Why? I'm mostly familiar with French Language, and while we do have low traffic, there are far smaller sites that are still allowed to continue. We don't have a quality problem, and traffic is picking up if slowly. Did something happen in the Italian Language private beta? Why would it be generalizable to other languages? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 16 '13 at 10:24
  • @Gilles, I don't know anything about IL, but 15 questions per day on average is a healthy value, and, as you can see on Area51, X Language sites currently are far from that value. Furthermore, currently, I don't see any L proposal that has chances to start in the next future. That's all, no more no less. – Elberich Schneider Nov 16 '13 at 11:47
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    The Area 51 criteria were written back when Area 51 started and do not reflect any actual experience. Many sites have been graduated with fewer than 15 questions per day. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 16 '13 at 12:19

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