Every day people who have little grasp of English attempt to answer questions in their own uniquely inept way; they have no conception of which words work with which other words and they rarely provide sources for their answers. I believe this can be mitigated with a mandatory English quiz given when signing up for the site. It'll lessen the strain on the community to delete these posts. Why hasn't it been done yet?

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    I'd rather have a test for "can you ask a clear question like a a rational adult talking to other rational adults?" test than an English test. I have no beef with ESLs: they're better and braver men than I am. I have serious beef with lazy jerks who just want to palm their work off onto gullible internet strangers. I want an anti-handout policy, not an anti-foreigner or anti-learner policy. – Dan Bron Jul 21 '16 at 19:13
  • @Dan Bron ~ it has little to do with "having beef with ESLs" and more to do with there being a specific stack exchange for ESLs in the first place. So why allow ESLs to post on this site when there's already a place for them? – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 19:16
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    'Allow'? 'Mandatory'? That is particularly intolerant (and, by the way, explicitly contrary to established practice here from the beginning). Non-native speakers are more likely to have interesting questions about subtle characteristics of a language that are easily overlooked by native speakers. Of course ELL is created to handle elementary questions and those are easily redirected. – Mitch Jul 21 '16 at 19:44
  • @Mitch ~ How is my saying that people who don't understand English well shouldn't be posting here different from the site's mission statement: "English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts." – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 19:58
  • and what specific "established practice" are you talking about? The established practice of humiliating ESLs by commenting on their nonsensical answers, telling them to go away to the other StackExchange, and deleting their posts? Well if that's the type of established practice you condone, then I cannot possibly fathom how you can then call that inclusionary. @Mitch – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 20:02
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    @V0ight Both of your comments are confusing to me. Your first one says 'NNS shouldn't post here = ELU for English language enthusiasts' I don't see how being an NNS prohibits one from being an enthusiast (in fact more likely an enthusiast). – Mitch Jul 21 '16 at 20:23
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    @V0ight Your second one accuses the established practice of tolerating NNS's as being humiliating. The established practice is to encourage NNS's here. Oh, I see, you think the established practice is to humiliate. No, the practice I was referring to was to allow and encourage NNS's to post here, the opposite from your suggestion. I don't condone humiliation. Maybe you are referring to the practice of some people here to turn away NNS's. That is not what I call 'established practice' but rather people not following established practice. – Mitch Jul 21 '16 at 20:24
  • NNS's are very much welcomed on ELU. Elementary questions, about basic grammar, spelling, language facts best learned in a class, should be asked at ELL though. – Mitch Jul 21 '16 at 20:25
  • @Mitch ~ I guess you missed the qualifier serious enthusiast, which doesn't apply to people who refuse to apply basic grammar and spelling skills, and don't even bother to read the rules of the site that clearly state that unsubstantiated answers are not condoned. Anyway, I have little problem with ESLs who actually know the language and who actually follow the rules. You're twisting my argument to say that I do indeed have that problem. Why? I don't know why you would do that. Perhaps you're offended on some personal level when there is nothing to be offended about. – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 20:33
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    All I'm saying is that providing a simple 10 question quiz, while not being fool-proof, will lessen the amount of hit-and-run users who don't care about the site, who don't care about learning English, and who don't care about the rules. But it seems you are incapable of seeing that and would rather spew some irrelevant diatribe about how I'm persecuting ESLs with this perfectly rational proposal. Well thank you for your time (and for your downvote). Very mature of you. – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 20:34
  • Oh, and how exactly is deleting these people's posts and telling them that they're wrong and don't belong here, NOT humuliating them? Do you have some strange non-standard definition of humiliate that I don't know about? – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 20:34
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    You do understand that DVs on meta indicate disagreement with the proposal, right? On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself. english.stackexchange.com/help/whats-meta – ColleenV Jul 21 '16 at 20:44
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    Another method of eliminating these sorts of people: make it mandatory to have at least 500 rep at ELL to be able to make an account on EL&U. – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 20:46
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    Seems to me like you just want to pick a fight, not have a constructive discussion, so why would I waste my time explaining why this is a terrible idea? I'll DV and then go vote on some answers, edit some tags and titles, help new users understand the guidelines, or write a better answer to a question that needs one. All of those activities are far more likely to benefit the site than trying to explain why excluding people is almost always the wrong answer to someone that seems so intractable. – ColleenV Jul 21 '16 at 21:01
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    @ColleenV ~ no, it seems that I'm the only person here that's actually NOT looking for a fight, because everyone's tone has been very antagonistic to say the least. No one has yet to explain how exactly syphoning users to where they're supposed to be (ELL if they know little of English) is "excluding" them. You people seem to be seeing entirely what you want to see instead of looking at the bigger picture of how this site CURRENTLY operates. – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 21:09

A strain on the community? How hard is a downvote on a poorly written question?

  • That's assuming that poorly written questions always get downvotes, and that poorly written questions don't end up wasting the reader's time, that of the people who have to vote to close it, that of the people who sometimes have to delete it (the mods) – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 21:00
  • case in point: english.stackexchange.com/questions/338488/… – user180089 Jul 21 '16 at 21:35
  • @V0ight Which proves my point: That question has attracted roughly equal numbers of up- and down-votes. – MetaEd Jul 21 '16 at 23:06
  • @V0ight I am the one who edited the question in point. I thought about downvoting and close-voting the question, but I didn't do either. Instead, I decided to edit it because it may not be answerable using a commonly available resources. There are worse questions than that on ELU. We can't close and delete all of them. – user140086 Jul 22 '16 at 11:23

My account is two years old, but I started off few months ago.
I'm not a native English speaker, and I have made mistakes a lot.
If such a quiz was mandatory, I wouldn't even have joined at all.

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    I think you are overanxious about your command of English. You seem like a normal native speaker to me. Because you've told us, I know you're Indian, but, eg, I don't remember you ever inadvertently using any Indianisms. – Dan Bron Jul 22 '16 at 18:35
  • @DanBron Ah yes, I wondering who would comment first, you or Rathony! :) – NVZ Jul 22 '16 at 18:37
  • @DanBron Unlike most "Indians", I have had a luxurious life, maybe. Attended English-medium schools in the Middle East. I have spent 90% of my time in various Arab countries speaking to all kinds of people. :) – NVZ Jul 22 '16 at 18:40
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    I'm jealous of all you super powered jerks who speak multiple languages. Why did you scare-quote "Indian", btw? Are you either not Indian by ethnicity or nationality? Sorry if I inadvertently offended you with that characterization. – Dan Bron Jul 22 '16 at 18:43
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    @DanBron LOL. "Indian" reminds some people of slums (Slumdog Millionaire, remember?), masala, call centers, honour killings and poverty. I was just mentioning that I was lucky enough to have had a better life than most Indians. I'm an Indian by all means, but most of the time a Non-Resident Indian – NVZ Jul 22 '16 at 18:53

To answer your question of why it hasn't been done yet: It had not been requested before.

The number of downvotes here indicates that the community does not support this plan. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that it won't be implemented.

  • Thank you for the enlightening post – user180089 Jul 23 '16 at 16:47

I can understand why you've proposed "taking mandatory English quiz". Yes, it is frustrating to see all those low-quality posts and find that we are not doing enough to prevent or slow down the influx of low-quality posts. My question is "Is there anything we can do?"

One user once proposed all questions be put on hold automatically and users vote to open an on-topic question among them. This suggestion illustrates there have been so many off-topic and low-quality questions and answers posted and deleted on ELU.

ELU is open to everybody in the world. Even a user who doesn't bother to register their user name can post a question and answer (except to closed and protected questions) and edit any post they want.

We can't stop new users from asking, answering a question and editing a post. We need to

  1. Post a comment for clarification, additional information, request to show research.

  2. Flag a question if you don't have 3,000 reputation points needed to vote to put a question on hold.

  3. Downvote a post which is not useful and doesn't show research efforts.

  4. Monitor suggested edits, especially those submitted by anonymous users, and review first posts and late answers carefully.

There are mechanisms we can use to deal with low-quality posts. I am one of the most aggressive users who are employing them to clean up the site. Even though asking new users to take mandatory English quiz might help reduce the number of low-quality posts, it is not an ideal solution considering the manpower and time it will take.

Related questions:

What can we do to make this site more "intimidating"?

Does ELU Have Worse Questions Than Other Sites?

Extraordinary spike in low-quality questions by 1 rep users

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    I like this answer a lot. This article about the psychology of littering is relevant I think: theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/… Like littering, the more low quality posts there are, the more likely someone will be to post them. We tend to behave the way that we perceive the people around us behaving, so the more clean-up people see happening, and the more good quality posts there are on the site, the better things will get. – ColleenV Jul 22 '16 at 13:08
  • @Saturana I think people serious about participating in a site look around a little bit and see what other people are doing before they jump in, even though a lot of people don't. If the first things a new user sees are low quality questions, that is what they think is "normal". If a new user sees high quality questions with research and editing and community discussion, they will behave a bit differently. It's just human nature to (in general) want to conform with community norms. – ColleenV Jul 22 '16 at 13:44
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    @Saturana I'm not proposing that we stop people from posting or reject them. I'm just saying that if you walk into a room and everyone has a party hat on, you will be likely to pick up a party hat from a nearby table and put it on because that's what people in this room do apparently and you would like to fit in. So, if we make sure that most questions have their party hats on, it will be more likely that we will get more questions that have their party hats on without needing any intervention. – ColleenV Jul 22 '16 at 14:02

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