So I used to be a regular reader, than I answered a bunch of questions and was part of the community. Heck I answered questions for a few months. I really like the concept of the site because I like to see obscure usage and I have gotten back into writing.

More often than not I only come to the site because of seeing a "Hot" question on the right when I am on another SE site. Today I clicked on - Phrase to describe a moving goal that is forever just out of reach

I have to tell you that my expectations are extremely low because I realize that many of the top users (volume wise) have very poor English skills and often English is not their native language. Well even my low expectations weren't met. An answer with 30 upvotes and accepted as right is not only horrible but has THREE horrible examples. ZERO FOR THREE of the answers fit the question. Holy cow!! And this is a user with a very high reputation on our site.

So my meta question is how can a site function when the ignorant are fvoting for ignorance? Let's say you had a friend who was an English professor and loved English usage. Would you send her here or would you be embarrassed?

  • If you feel so strongly that a "wrong" answer was accepted, set up a bounty and award the points to the answer you sustain is correct. But be warned, not everyone will agree with your decision.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 5, 2015 at 12:36
  • 6
    I honestly don't see why you have a problem with chasing rainbows as the accepted answer on the question you linked to above. Perhaps not everyone knows the science behind rainbows, so they don't know that it's the laws of physics preventing you ever reaching one (and finding the mythical pot of gold). But it's a far more well-known idiomatic usage than your suggestion about like dogs chasing the rabbit (a somewhat barbaric concept that probably hasn't actually happened at a properly-run dog-racing track in my lifetime). Dec 5, 2015 at 15:31
  • 5
    You're getting worked up over the answers to this one question, thinking the sky is falling because a no one is getting the same metaphor as you? At least the question is interesting. This site doesn't attract too many profs but it's also not as bad as urban dictionary or yahoo answers.
    – Mitch
    Dec 5, 2015 at 20:28

2 Answers 2


I certainly wouldn't recommend EL&U to a professor who

  • thinks that if English is not your native language you must have poor English skills
  • believes that correct English arises from something other than use by English-speakers
  • thinks that 'like a dog after the rabbit' refers to something unattainable, since dogs often do catch rabbits, both in the wild and in coursing
  • sees 'chasing rainbows' as a "horrible" suggestion for 'pursuit of something forever just out of reach' and feels no need to support that view.

But most importantly, I would not recommend it to somebody who wishes to impart Olympian wisdom, not to learn; and who cannot distinguish between 'my opinion' and 'correct'. Fortunately, such professors are rare in my experience.


I don't think your expectations are low enough. The hot network questions are not selected for being the highest quality questions with the highest quality answers—they're mainly composed of bicycle-shed questions where even non-experts feel like they know the answer, questions about popular topics like sex, and interesting questions from the category. But although it may seem like it sometimes, this site doesn't just deal with single word requests. In my opinion, the quality of answers actually tends to be higher for the less-popular posts.

As for ignorance: it's possible you're more informed than everyone else on this site. I know I'm not; I can think of many answers and users from which I've learned new things. I also haven't noticed poor English skills from most of the top users, so I can't really say why it seems that way to you.

Whether I would recommend the site (to anyone) depends on several factors, including that person's particular personality. In general, I don't feel that the quality of the answers is too low for me to recommend it.

If your main interest is -style questions, and in-depth discussions about nuances of meaning, I can see why you might be disappointed with some questions and answers. As a Stack Exchange site, this is by design a poor place for questions that call for opinion-based answers or that require extended discussion. Unfortunately, I feel that questions about meaning, or about the best words to describe some situation, are inherently a bit opinion-based. And unlike on Stack Overflow, there is no real way for the OP to test out an answer to see if it "works" or not.

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