I looked around meta and I was surprised that there hasn't been a discussion (I could find) that tries to delineate what should and shouldn't be considered on topic for ELL but not ELU.

Obviously the old adage "Don't migrate crap" applies, but what divides the two sites' topics?

The question that sparked this question was "


I understand that " answer to " means to answer the question.

But in my book, I saw he wrote " answer for " which takes about responsibility, so i am confused about it!

With cleaning up, this seemed to me like it might be a valid ELL question, but not an ELU one as it seemed to just be about not understanding a phrase.

However as someone who hasn't even earned 100 rep on this site, I was hesitant to assume I knew the topic of the site. Can anyone clarify or point me to a robust resource that I may have missed to make edge cases clearer?

I found questions that address the existence of ELL and try to explain the difference, but they mostly speak to the broad intent of having 2 sites, rather than actually what the two sites separate topics are. Here's an example:

What is the difference between ELU and ELL?

The question here also contains some useful info:

What's the status of ELL relative to ELU

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  • @Mitch: The answer there explains the intended difference and why the two sites exist, but not clear guidelines on how to split the sites' topics. Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 21:56
  • @choster Though those answers are useful (and I'll add them to my post) none actually address the question of the sites' topics except for the meta.ELL post. I'll post an answer linking to that post as it seems most fitting currently. Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 22:01
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    Even though it was posted over three years ago before ELL graduated out of "beta" status, I stand by my position that at least one category of questions that should be migrated is those where almost the entire focus is on the needs and interests of people wanting to learn how to use colloquial English more fluently. I'd like to see ELU more focused on issues of interest to people who already know English, as opposed to ELL (where obviously the target users are people who want to learn it). Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 18:20
  • @FumbleFingers I think that's certainly a good element, I recommend posting it as an answer if you'd like to write one up. Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 9:41
  • @SuperBiasedMan: I'm still undecided as to whether this is a dup or not. My own question on this topic was posted before ELL graduated from beta status, but I think this answer (on one of several related questions) was written after graduation, and I thoroughly endorse it. I doubt I can add anything useful here that I haven't already said (or upvoted someone else for saying). Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 14:34
  • @FumbleFingers I wasn't entirely sure either. I do feel your question adds useful info, as does that answer. But I wonder if more of a line could be drawn? Other sites I've been on have quite strict and clear topics, but perhaps that's less so here. Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 15:28
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    @SuperBiasedMan: I think the bottom line here is that ELU should primarily concern itself with deciding what questions are On/Off Topic for ELU (and let ELL decide which questions are On/Off Topic on that site). ELU has always said that it's a site for linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts - I can't think of a better way to put that, but I really don't think it's supposed to imply that just because you seriously want to learn English you should ask questions on ELU where the answers are common knowledge to all native speakers. Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


It turns out ELL's meta has the best resource on this here. As I cannot mark something as a cross site duplicate, I'll note the key point of what's considered on topic for ELL:

If your question is about the English language, but is unlikely to ever occur to a native speaker (except in the context of teaching English as a foreign language), you should ask it here.

And some good examples that are suggested:

  • "I need a word for [concept] because I want to construct a sentence a particular way" belongs on ELU, but "My native language has a word for [concept], is there an equivalent word in English" belongs on ELL.
  • "Is there a dialect where 'on yesterday' is idiomatic" goes on ELU, but "Why do we use 'on' with Monday but not with yesterday" goes on ELL.
  • "In dialects that don't pronounce word-initial 'h', how do they distinguish 'ate' and 'hate'" goes on ELU, but "My native language doesn't have 'h', how do I remember the difference between 'ate' and 'hate'" goes on ELL. And so forth.

Credit goes to Martha for writing these quoted sections.

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