An English language learner better not ask in this site?

I asked this question and it had been closed as off-topic(it was reopened). Some members seem to have an opinion that a learner better not ask here(see the comments of the above mentioned thread). I would like to know your opinions.

  • 6
    Please don't put words in other people's mouths. I don't think anyone here has said that English language learners shouldn't post on English Language & Usage. Several people have noted that certain questions are off-topic (like FumbleFingers and I have said, in the linked question). Mar 25, 2014 at 1:34
  • Please also see the “Related” questions at the right. A few of them also deal with issues related to English language learners. Mar 25, 2014 at 1:38
  • 2
    All that said, if you have questions about learning or teaching English, they are probably a better fit for English Language Learners. Mar 25, 2014 at 1:45
  • @BraddSzonye The two questions are related but different. Why do you think they are the same? Mar 25, 2014 at 1:46
  • 1
    It is not an exact duplicate, but it deals with the same topic in relation to the same question on English Language & Usage, and the answers to it are applicable to this one. When you have questions about learning and teaching English, you should probably post them to English Language Learners instead of here. When you have questions about English Language & Usage within the scope given in the help center, you should ask here. Several people have given you this same advice now. If it doesn't answer your meta question, you should edit the previous question to explain why and how you need more information. Mar 25, 2014 at 1:48
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    @BraddSzonye [I don't think anyone here has said that English language learners shouldn't post on English Language & Usage.] Nobody said that, but some people seem to have an opinion that a learner better not ask here. Mar 25, 2014 at 1:50
  • 1
    You are referring to FumbleFingers, yes? I'm almost certain that he doesn't believe that. Mar 25, 2014 at 1:51
  • I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're having difficulty with, so I can't elaborate. (Also, when I have elaborated in the past, you have responded simply by repeating the same questions, so it does not appear that elaboration is effective or worth my time.) Mar 25, 2014 at 2:17
  • @BraddSzonye [You are referring to FumbleFingers, yes?] It doesn't matter who I am referring to. It doesn't even matter whether I am reffering to an existing person. I am just asking whether an English language learner better not ask in this site. Mar 25, 2014 at 2:17
  • @BraddSzonye Re:FumbleFingers - "all he needs to know is that he is a learner, and thus it's very likely that his question will be a better fit on the learners' site" - 'shouldn't' is not the same as 'likely' but it's translating the same to ivanhoe.
    – Mitch
    Mar 25, 2014 at 2:18
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    ivanhoescott: You keep repeating the same questions to different people, with trivial variation between them, without ever showing any sign that you comprehend even part of what we are trying to tell you. You have resisted every piece of advice people have given to you, like visiting the help center or posting questions on English Language Learners. That's frankly aggravating, and hardly distinguishable from trolling. Please stop repeating the same questions and spend some time taking advantage of the resources that people have been trying to give you. Mar 25, 2014 at 2:23
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    ivanhoescott: The SE comment system is not designed for having extended discussions in comments. It's very disruptive, as I noted in my comment to Mitch. If you don't understand what people are saying in comments, please discuss it in ELU chat rather than asking for the same clarification repeatedly. Mar 25, 2014 at 2:28
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    Also, as I have mentioned before, StackExchange strongly expects you to help yourself, and to get more information by improving your questions, not just repeating them and asking more people. This is not a discussion forum, and opinion polling in particular is strongly discouraged. Which is why you should be editing your earlier question with more information, rather than posting another one and asking over and over what's wrong with that. Mar 25, 2014 at 2:30
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    But still you keep using comments like they were a chat system. If you want to start a dialogue, please use the chat room: that's what it's for. Meta does allow some limited discussion, but it's still aimed mainly at the question-and-answer format. And on meta we still expect you to follow general SE practices like improving questions based on feedback, rather that posting near-duplicates. Mar 25, 2014 at 3:48
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    The fact that you need to quote context in your comments to keep track of everyone and everything you are replying to is a good sign that you should be having this discussion in chat, not in comments. The comment system is not designed for this. Mar 25, 2014 at 3:50

2 Answers 2


To directly answer your question:

There is a second site, English Language Learners (ELL). It is designed for people who are trying to learn English when it is not their primary language.

English Langugage & Usage (ELU) assumes that the users already have a fairly advanced degree of knowledge of the English language and are asking more complicated questions. (As a general rule: On-topic questions would likely be at least a mild challenge to a native speaker.)

When we vote to close a question here, it is because it doesn't specifically fit the profile of a question on this site.

The most common reason for closure is that the answer would a) be readily apparent to a native speaker, b) would be easily found within a general reference that is readily available. We call this closure reason General Reference. The majority of questions that are asked by non-native speakers fall into this category; many of these questions would likely be more welcome on ELL.

There are some, however, that have clearly done their research and are asking for clarification of certain nuances that might not be readily apparent from those general references. Those questions are typically welcome on ELU. The key difference is: the general reference research has been done PRIOR to posting the question.

So, to make my point clearer: We have a thriving community of non-native English speakers here. And, many of them are our finest contributors. But, they already possess a significant proficiency in the English language. Some, in fact, are more knowledgable than a native speaker with regard to grammatical usage, and other fine points.

There is no stigma to being asked to post on ELL instead of ELU. That is the entire reason ELL exists, to help people who are trying to learn to speak English at most levels. If you post a question and it gets closed, then please read the comments explaining why the close votes were applied. If many of them recommend posting on ELL, then consider reposting it there. You will likely get a better and more complete answer there.

  • 1
    Well said. It would be better to ask this on ELL An English language learner better not ask at ELU. In fact, a pointer to ELL should be regarded as helpful and friendly advice; more often than not, that's the spirit with which it was written. It's not an exhortation to scram.
    – J.R.
    Mar 27, 2014 at 17:35
  • @J.R. Well said, to you too, sir!
    – David M
    Mar 27, 2014 at 20:28
  • [But, they already possess a significant proficiency in the English language.] What if a learner doesn't have such a proficiency? Do you advise him to ask whatever questions in another site? Apr 2, 2014 at 0:51
  • @ivanhoescott I usually recommend that they ask on English Language Learners.
    – David M
    Apr 2, 2014 at 0:53
  • @DavidM [I usually recommend that they ask on English Language Learners.] Even if his question might be interesting for many members of this site? Apr 2, 2014 at 1:05
  • @ivanhoescott Can you give an example?
    – David M
    Apr 2, 2014 at 1:17
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    @ivanhoescott This isn't e-mail; it isn't necessary to quote every message you're responding to, and it's somewhat distracting. (If the conversation is convoluted enough that you need to quote context, then it's too chatty for comments.) Apr 2, 2014 at 2:27
  • @DavidM [Can you give an example?] If you don't find my question interesting, I could have asked this for example. Apr 2, 2014 at 16:28

I think that every site under the StackExchange umbrella has had a question on its meta site making a similar point. The point being that new users are not made welcome.

In all cases the answer is similar. The sites have different expectations of their users than a simple forum site would.

This has the disadvantage that it can appear unwelcoming to new users who fall foul of the standards required. The flags and comments received may appear brusque and unwelcoming.

This is outweighed by major advantages. These sites form a repository of useful information that can be read easily. The Q&A format leads a reader to information without having to trawl through the drivel of a forum's stream of conciousness. It is very often not necessary to post a question as the answer can be found simply. Of course, not all other forums are bad and these SE sites are not perfect.

The sites are not as unwelcoming as you may at first think. Please continue to use the site, all are welcome here. Just please take a moment to understand what there is on offer and what you can offer in return.

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