Wouldn't "Advanced English Language & Usage" be more appropriate and cut down the ELL questions?

Just by the name of the site the users who post "ELL" are right. I believe this site poorly named. I shouldn't have to read a 3 minute preamble to figure out if my question belongs here. I would assume as a user that I have a question regarding English, so I ask it here.

Now maybe this was named before ELL was a little sperm swimming to the SE egg but things need to evolve. We shouldn't be closing 50 questions a day (I am just making that number up).

Edit: In no way do I want this question to construe any need for changing the policy of this site one way or the other. I simply chose "Advanced" because it is the first thing I thought of. The question was more about the confusion - to even "advanced" English speakers - on where they should go to ask a question. I find that these two sitting next to each other in the dropdown adds on to the confusion even more.

So question I raised is proposing changing based on confusion, not new site boundaries.

  • Given that the number of bad questions per day is manifestly unbounded (call it over fifty), it would be counterproductive to impose any arbitrary and unrelated expectation regarding the number of questions closed per day (call it under fifty).
    – tchrist Mod
    Apr 18, 2014 at 19:52
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    @tchrist - I am not saying that the number of closed questions is a reason to change the site. It is just an inherent example illustrating the confusion the site's name causes users. Apr 18, 2014 at 19:54
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    I have no strong feelings one way or the other, but I have to mention that you don't actually have to read a 3-minute preamble, just the very first sentence on the homepage. Just one. If people are not scared off by linguologists and etymajigs, they won't be scared off by a mundane "advanced" either. (In fact, they might think hey cool, I don't need to look any further, these guys will certainly give me an advanced answer I can trust to my "what does dog mean?" question.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 19, 2014 at 21:37
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    [cont'd] another aspect is that we are simply victims of our own popularity. It's easy to not get off-topic questions when nobody knows you even exist. Not so easy when you start getting 182100 visitors a day. Law of large numbers. Again, I'm not arguing either way here, just supplying some data points. (Renaming the site is an idea that's been floating around in comments for quite some time now, so it's good to finally get it a home here.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 19, 2014 at 21:42
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    I agree that a name change is needed. There are too many questions written in broken English which we can't make heads-or-tails out of. And then there are questions that sound like EFL homework. Maybe first questions by new users could go into a queue, and then have to first be approved or routed to either ELL or ELU? Just a thought.
    – F.E.
    Apr 20, 2014 at 5:22
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    Perhaps if more of those proverbial 50 questions per day were migrated to ELL, this wouldn't be as much of an issue?
    – J.R.
    Apr 20, 2014 at 10:42
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  • Journeyman English is advanced enough by the standards of most of the questioners we get. I see no reason to glorify it for them.
    – Robusto
    Apr 24, 2014 at 0:03
  • no. what of users who do not seek advanced solutions in English? they will not feel welcome and that is not right. ELL is fitting Apr 28, 2014 at 13:36
  • I always want to answer questions like this using Betteridge's/Davis' Law. Apr 29, 2014 at 19:12

5 Answers 5


Although I have no data to back this up, it's at least possible if not probable that people are simply using english as the URL because "There must be a Stack for English, right?"

I would suggest swapping the URLs around, so english.SE goes to ELL and ELU gets ELU.SE.

Or, if that's too much of a change, have english.SE go to a disambiguation page which directs questioners to either ELU or ELL. That would presuppose that there were fairly explicit guidelines which could be concocted to direct questions correctly.

There will always be borderline cases, but there are a large number of questions here which are obviously asked by people learning English as a second language who simply want basic help about which preposition to use in a particular sentence, rather than the reason or history of using that preposition.

  • I tend to agree with this logic for the most part. Also if you notice that the two are right next to each other on the top banner dropdown, with ELU being first. I would naturally pick the first one, no matter the intention I had of a question. I am going to ask another question on meta to see if there is an issue on ELL. Apr 20, 2014 at 21:25
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    This will break google!
    – Ian
    Apr 22, 2014 at 13:17
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    @Ian - There are ways to tell the google robots of a domain or subdomain change. You don't think google as find and replace functionality? Apr 22, 2014 at 19:32
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    In any case, Google reindexes sites like this one frequently, so it will soon find things have changed.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Apr 22, 2014 at 20:34
  • @RyeɃreḁd the problem is links from other sites would need to be redirected, but the link format is the same on ELU and ELL
    – Ian
    Apr 22, 2014 at 21:53
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    @Ian that is handled on the SE servers. Takes about 2 mins to set up a redirect for a sub. Apr 22, 2014 at 23:13
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    @Ian If the sites become ELL.SE and ELU.SE and "english" arrives at the disambiguation page, old "english" links get redirected to ELU.SE and new links get the new subdomains. It's not insurmountable. If the redirection is permanent (status 301), even Google will update its indexes.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Apr 23, 2014 at 7:06

Edit 2

In my answer below, I originally misinterpreted RyeɃreḁd's intent with his question. The issue at hand is how to distinguish between ELL and ELU, and how to guide people to the right one, not how to craft ELU into an academics only site. Don't put undue emphasis on his choice of the word advanced. I have less insight to provide on the best way to do that.

I disagree that this site should be about advanced English. If you squeeze all the learners into ELL, and this site becomes only about the most hoity-toity academic pursuits, where does that leave the vast majority of everyday speakers who would like a little assistance? They'll still pick one or the other, and if they're using the language everyday, they'll avoid the "learners" site and come here anyway.

No, I think things are right the way they are now. As martin f said, the distinction is between learning the language, and how to use the language you already know.

Edit 1

phenry put it very well here: This is not a site for “serious English language enthusiasts,” and it never will be

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    I am not sure "Advanced" is the best prefix. I just threw that out there. I did have the same thoughts as you though. Apr 19, 2014 at 23:13
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    One would hope it might stop (please, God) people who post questions such as I travel by my car Vs I travel with my car ? I don't think we'll ever get only the hoity-toity academics. Apr 19, 2014 at 23:19
  • Right. That type of question is clearly from a learner. It should be noted that there are many people for which English is their first and only language, and yet they have never learned it. Also, if I take your meaning correctly, you're agreeing that this site will never become an "experts only" forum because we'll always have people here seeking the advice of experts on everyday usage. Apr 19, 2014 at 23:27
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    My point was to keep the non-native and clearly beginner questions on ELL. In no way was I saying that I preferred this to be elite English questions. I am not sure going forward if a beginner English speaker sees two sites that have English in their name, why would they pick one over the other. If your answer is they should know by reading what the site is about, then you are missing the point that they don't know/understand English well. Apr 20, 2014 at 15:52
  • @RyeɃreḁd Agreed that there needs to be a way to cleanly distinguish between ELL & ELU, and a way to encourage people to use the right one. Apologies for misconstruing advanced as elite. I realize you've said it's just the first word you put down, so we shouldn't put too much emphasis on quite that choice of word. Apr 20, 2014 at 16:28
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    I mistook this as part of the other ongoing discussion here at ELU. I disagree with those who feel this site should only be for the academic study of the language. That may have been part (but certainly not all) of it's origins and how some high rep members feel, but that's not the reality nor the need of the majority of the user base. As a founding member of ELL, I also resent the misconception that ELL was created to be the dumping ground for ELU. Some here may have pitched in with that intent, but regardless of rep, a few does not a community make. Apr 20, 2014 at 16:37
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    I think this (your question and clarification) is the right discussion: How to distinguish between the two sites, and how to guide people to the right one. Apr 20, 2014 at 16:38
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    @medica - why would this ever stop? Most of these are new users to both sites. Is the world producing a better batch of new SE users? Apr 20, 2014 at 21:36
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    Agreed, ELU is right where it should be: between ELL and Writers. Usage would need to be Understanding or the whole site divided; ELU into: ELL(& usage) and Writers(& language). Currently, ELU is the catch-all for all English language questions. One of my peeves when first coming here was being harped on for 'usage' questions that belong on ELL -but it's called "usage"! According to the site name, nothing written in English is off topic. -IMO, phenry's quote is legendary.
    – Mazura
    May 5, 2015 at 1:52

Other SE sites can suggest to a questioner where to send their query, or warn when a question might be chosen to be closed based on the structure in the title. Why not a technical measure of some kind?

I know there do exist some text analyzers that can do a grade-level rating of a body of text. If it measured the post as being below a certain score it could kick in at time of post to offer the suggestion.

"Your post was analyzed by machine as containing a large number of spelling and grammar errors. Is your question actually about basic learning of English? If so, the right place to ask it might be on a different site... click here to have your message posted on ELL"

Or something like that. Though I never like these measures blocking a post, only warning...

  • Not sure we are even close to this yet... If we are I fear all my answers would be migrated. Apr 21, 2014 at 19:33
  • @RyeɃreḁd: Are you sure that would be a bad thing? Apr 21, 2014 at 21:56
  • @TimLymington - are you saying my answers are better suited for Engrish speakers? Apr 22, 2014 at 1:12

Both sites are about "English." But "ELL" is about "elementary" English (which is reasonably well defined by "learners" and ELU is about "advanced" English.

So a good name for this site would be "Advanced English," with or without "Usage."

I recently got into hot water by posting a "basic" question here. The median user was far more "advanced" than the question, which was heavily criticized. If I had it to do again, I would post it on ELL.

  • Not really. ELL is focused on people learning English as a foreign language and tends to deal with more pragmatic concerns and have answers written to more of a layman’s level. Some of the questions on ELL do deal with grammar the average native speaker might have trouble answering, so I wouldn’t classify them as basic. I am often surprised by odd things EFL folks see that I never really noticed about my native language.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 7, 2019 at 18:27
  • ELL is not about elementary English. It is there for learners of whatever level, even the highest. Jan 9, 2019 at 4:08

Any division between English Language Learners and English Language & Usage has to be arbitrary. Why not just scrap it and merge the two? I personally find the whole business of vetting a question irritating - who am I to judge? Who is anyone?

Combining levels works perfectly on a forum I used to inhabit (Wordreference - It has its faults too).

But, you object, I don't want to answer trivial question about whether to say "Where are you?" or "Where you are"?

Well the answer is straightforward - Don't.

All we have to do is self-select. Pick the questions that interest us and ignore the others, no big deal.

Apart from any selfish considerations, think of newcomers. What sort of welcome is it to be greeted with votes to close your question?

Amalgamate them. That's what I say.

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    ...or add 'migrate to ELL' already. The stats on what do get migrated heavily point toward making ELL the default migrate destination rather than writers.SE
    – Mitch
    Aug 10, 2015 at 0:33
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    A similar question was asked meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/5216/…. Don't be put off by the 0 votes, it received 11 upvotes and 11 downvotes. Have you visited ELL? What do you think of it? Would you be happy seeing their questions here?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 10, 2015 at 20:00
  • @Mari-LouA - I haven't visited ELL no. I'm just assuming that we can ignore questions if we don't like them. I'm not wedded to the idea of change. I was just putting in my two-pennyworth. If the consensus is to keep the status quo then so be it :-) Aug 10, 2015 at 20:05
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    Then shouldn't you first spend a few days visiting ELL before claiming that the two sites should merge? There is a "historical" reason why that site was created. My being on EL&U is on the par to your suggestion to ignore those questions which do not arouse much interest. I am hardly ever on ELL. Although, it's also true to say, the rare gem does appear from time to time, but overall ELL questions are very basic.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 10, 2015 at 20:42
  • @choster - I've just read through that. Some food for thought there. Aug 10, 2015 at 21:42
  • @Mari-LouA - Well I've spent a little time on ELL. I was surprised at how much better formulated some of the questions are over there. Not only that, I couldn't in that short while detect much difference in the level of the questions. If anything my opinion that the two should be merged has strengthened. Aug 13, 2015 at 10:04
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    @Mari-LouA: I visited both, for more than a few days, and I find it hard considering ELU a place for discussing the "advanced" usage when the front page is continuously flooded by single word requests. ELL questions might be basic, but at least are about the usage of English. Aug 26, 2015 at 22:48

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