After reviewing several Meta posts and related commentary, the moderator team has replaced one of the custom close reasons on the site. The General Reference close reason has been replaced by:

Please include the research you've done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic.

This new reason more adequately conveys why the community was closing general reference questions (because more research was desired), it provides the same rationale for other questions that might not be considered general reference but are still lacking information, and it also suggests the English Language Learners site, which is helpful for users who may need to learn how to do the research in the first place.

  • 3
    I have the impression various FAQ updates on ELU have progressively raised the prominence of ELL. Does this reflect inside knowledge that ELL is getting closer to graduating out of "beta mode", or is it entirely an ELU-driven move to steer away inappropriate questions? I'm all in favour of that latest change, btw. Dec 17, 2014 at 18:40
  • 3
    @FumbleFingers I have no information on ELL's progression toward graduation. The motivation is to help users find the most appropriate site for their questions.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Dec 17, 2014 at 19:49
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers, ELL is in the graduation queue and has been for some months. There is nothing more that needs to be done by the ELU moderators or community. The hold up is on StackExchange's end: they need to finalize the design of the site (color scheme, icons, etc) before they can promote it, and the design team is well backed-up.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:12
  • 5
    The last time the queue was discussed publicly, to my knowledge, was in this thread on Meta.SE, which put ELL 9th in the queue to graduate. Since then, the first site on the list has graduated, and the second site on the list is partway there. At this rate, ELL should graduate in 2016 or 2017.
    – user28567
    Dec 19, 2014 at 18:35
  • 1
    Do you think it would be better that the explanation of "research" has its own page in help section? Some elements from Andrew's answer can be incorporated there also. I think it can be a bit confusing for a new-comer to go to this meta question. This section gives a hint though: english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask
    – ermanen
    Dec 20, 2014 at 18:54
  • Excellent, thanks! I was thinking the same as ermanen; I was puzzled when the research link took me to an apparently-unrelated meta question. Perhaps @AndrewLynch's excellent answer could be incorporated into the FAQ or even a blog post or a community wiki question like the GR list.
    – Lynn
    Dec 22, 2014 at 13:09
  • 1
    Doesn't this conflict with the statement in the tour: "We're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about English language and usage." If you're filtering out questions that can be answered using commonly-available references, then how can you achieve this goal?
    – ShemSeger
    Dec 11, 2015 at 4:50

1 Answer 1


(Not really sure if this is an ‘answer’ to a meta ‘question’ at all… but close enough. Since the question isn’t a question, I guess its answer can be one instead.)

One minor niggle has just occurred to me: the or in the first sentence is misleading. It would be better to change it to:

Please include the research you've done, AND consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic.

The or makes it look like the asker should either include their research or consider whether the question is better for ELL, when in fact of course the asker should do both: including your research does not mean the question is necessarily better on ELU than ELL, and ELL expects research to be included as well, so considering that it’s a better fit there does not preclude one from including one’s research.

  • I think users have been hesitant to upvote this answer because it's entirely possible that a question demonstrates adequate research, but is still too basic or trivial for ELU (but is a fine candidate for ELL: better than most, because it includes research). In other words, this close-reason is our "golden hammer" for questions which are inappropriate on this site by virtue of the fact that no native speaker would never ask them, and we want it to be as broad-spectrum as possible. We only gt 3 custom close-reasons, & we finally got this one after a long hard battle: we don't want it hobbled.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 23, 2015 at 23:19
  • @DanBron english.stackexchange.com/questions/359409/… What's your opinion on this question?
    – user140086
    Nov 22, 2016 at 14:25
  • I haven't seen it before and don't have time to dig into the conversation around it, but high-level: it's a question which would never occur to a native speaker, and shows no research, but weighed against that is it's amenable to an expert answer from a linguist (and in fact has attracted one), and is one of those things which would be very difficult to research unless one was a linguist already. I see it's closed but is also attracting re-open votes. Personally, I do not care about its fate.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 22, 2016 at 14:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .