4

Since we have a 'should be asked on ELL rather than ELU' (or words to that effect) close-vote reason, it would be reasonable to have some knowledge on what the people at ELL deem suitable questions. I rarely visit the sister site (and on a couple of occasions, felt that questions there should have been migrated to ELU!)

I've just voted for migration of the 'Which is correct: I needed to see you or i wanted to see you?' question from ELU to ELL, but I wonder if I'm doing our colleagues there a disservice? Is this also too basic for ELL?

.......

I'll transfer a deleted comment to include my approach to answering (or otherwise) a question; this comment was in response to deadrat's "Have we started giving a damn about what low-rep posters want...?"

My 'line of approach' is almost always (1) Has OP made the slightest effort to tailor their question to ELU recommendations? If so, (2) Is it still obviously off-topic? Whether or not, (3) Is there an interesting and on-topic point for discussion, either overt or in what may well be the 'question behind the question'? (4) If so, is an edit preferable before an answer? If I reject at the first stage, I will still consider submitting a related question myself.

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    If that need/want question had arrived on ELL, I would have closevoted for lack of prior research. Whilst it's true that there are many contexts where either might be used, any dictionary will make the (potential) semantic distinction obvious. – FumbleFingers Sep 18 '16 at 16:28
  • You do get about. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 18 '16 at 16:30
  • Only really here and ELL. I'm surprised you don't participate in ELL more often - your input would certainly be useful there. – FumbleFingers Sep 18 '16 at 16:42
  • I'm only just getting used to the politics on ELU (and can do without any more bunfights). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 18 '16 at 16:48
  • I think there are less bunfights on ELL. Particularly given one area of potential disagreement here concerns trivial / basic questions that don't really fit the interesting to linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts requirement. That issue simply doesn't arise on ELL, where not many questions are closed for lack of prior research. But as indicated, I would make an exception for that particular one (so long as someone had at least commented to enlighten the OP if he really couldn't use a dictionary properly). – FumbleFingers Sep 18 '16 at 16:55
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    I am surprised at the comments about ELU. One reason I rarely go there is because the community seems so damn aggressive and itching to have a bunfight. Not that I have any objection to having a bunfight (one of my dislikes of ELU is that over-zealous moderators come along and start deleting stuff...), but more the quality of the bunfights. In ELU I often find them interesting to follow; in ELL they are seem petty and, for want of a better word, childish. – Roaring Fish Sep 24 '16 at 17:57
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    As for migrating stuff to ELU, I know they complain about being a trash-can but if we don't throw our 'trash' there, what do we do? Just delete it? Maybe the answer is to have a storage area, accessible to mods, to throw the trash so that ELL mods can choose which of our unwanted questions they would like. That or stop migrating. ELL doesn't really seem to need it now. – Roaring Fish Sep 24 '16 at 18:02
  • @FumbleFingers That should be fewer bunfights, and I think we should have a bunfight about that. – deadrat Sep 25 '16 at 1:42
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    I hesitate to ask... what's a 'bunfight'? A fight over buns? I could use one about now. – Mitch Sep 25 '16 at 15:32
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    @Mitch: Please, please post a question about the etymology of bunfight on the main site so we can all benefit from some serious research on the issue. Hypothesis #1: It refers to two people who rush at each other like bull elk, except that they run backward and collide in a logically a posteriori manner. Hypothesis #2: It derives from disputes between antagonists who are both hot and cross. Hypothesis #3: It's a corruption of (a) benefit or (b) bona fides or (c) bonne fête. I look forward to your question. (P.S. Don't forget to show your research.) – Sven Yargs Sep 27 '16 at 2:58
  • @SvenYargs Answers as comments are frowned upon here. – Mitch Sep 27 '16 at 11:59
  • @Mitch 'Here' as in 'where you live'? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 27 '16 at 12:58
  • @EdwinAshworth ?? – Mitch Sep 27 '16 at 13:04
  • In line with @RegDwigнt's '[W]e write stuff in comments that is too obvious to qualify for an answer.' I often answer using a comment. So does the illustrious Professor Lawler. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 27 '16 at 15:43
6

Questions which are obviously asked by someone learning English, who might be in need of a more didactic answer, are eligible to be migrated.

A pointer, among others, is the use of terms like "Third Conditional". There may be explicit references to tuition text-books or exams or school or learning English.

However, as a general rule poor questions should not be migrated. At least some evidence of research is needed on ELU and ELL. The reason for that is that it saves others looking up references (the OP has already found and noted them) and answers can concentrate on what is unclear or what the OP has misunderstood.

The ELU closure message specifically mentions research, but also points out the existence of ELL for those for whom it might be a more appropriate forum. Its rules still apply, though, and questions asked there which show a lack of research are likely to be closed.

For the post in question here, there is no evidence of research. While Laurence may be right that the distinction between want and need may be interesting, there is no evidence that the OP has even bothered to look up that there is a distinction. If, having found there is a distinction, there is a question to ask about that, it would probably be on-topic. Without that research, the question would be unwelcome on ELL, which means it should not be migrated there.

And, since I began this answer and was called away for a meeting, I see that the question has been closed for lack of research. That is the right decision, I feel.

Of course, it doesn't have to be the OP who edits the question to make it on-topic. Anyone can do that, even after it's been put on hold for lack of research.

  • Thank you, Andrew. I've got problems with the close-vote given reason, then. I feel there needs to be more prominence given to the fact that ELL does not welcome unresearched questions either. / There is also the matter of how many liberties one should take to 'convert' a poor question ('What do 'need to' and 'want to' mean?) to a good one (DED defines 'want' as in '... want to ...' thus: / and 'need' as in '... need to ...' thus: .... Are there other, possibly overlapping senses? Are there historical links, as one writer claims?) OP probably intended nothing of the sort. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 10:16
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    We have already squeezed as much as possible into that close reason. It's really for askers to research (I'm afraid) the requirements of sites. Hopefully, having a question closed here for lack of effort might give a hint that that could happen elsewhere. If ELL didn't have the research requirement then it really would be a dumping ground. – Andrew Leach Sep 16 '16 at 10:19
  • Do the folk on ELL deal with duplicated migrations (it's hard enough to investigate those in-house)? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 10:24
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    If you mean a question migrated to ELL which turns out to be a duplicate on that site, then you'll need to ask them. If it's simply closed as a duplicate, the system is likely to treat it as a failed migration [shouldn't be there either], which helps no-one. Preventing that does take moderator action. – Andrew Leach Sep 16 '16 at 10:27
  • @EdwinAshworth I've discussed pre-emptive editing with a few others at Sandy Lanes (1, 2) - look towards the end of each for the conclusions. Summary: so long as it appears to be in line with the OP's intent, edit as much as necessary, then drop a comment to the OP about the edit with an invitation to roll back or edit further. Here's a recent example of this style of editing. – Lawrence Sep 16 '16 at 17:17
  • We have already squeezed as much as possible into that close reason. I find it's not quite condescending enough for my tastes. Surely someone can be counted on to remedy that. – deadrat Sep 25 '16 at 1:50
-2

The difference in content between the sites is summarised in the respective tours:

  • ELU: every question about English language and usage
  • Learners: every question about learning the English language

In practice, many questions about learning the language are also questions about the language itself.

Now that the Learners site is out of Beta, I think it's time to stop migrating questions there routinely. It may be useful to note the presence of the other site in comments, but if the OP still wants to ask the question here, the question should simply be handled as an ELU question.

Migration of the question should be considered only upon request from the OP.

In the case of the question you mentioned, the core of the question is how native English speakers use (and differentiate) the terms want and need. The dictionary provides a clinical distinction between the two words, but there is a closer-than-suggested historical link as well as typical-usage link between them.

This is an interesting question on its own merits, and ought to be on-topic on both sites.

Added from comments: I sometimes to look at questions a little differently. If the question as presented isn't all that interesting but there's a gem in there somewhere, it's useful to the repository for that gem to be taken out and polished, preferably by the original poster. If the OP refuses, then yes, the right thing to do would be to ask a new question instead of editing the existing one. I wouldn't do it in this case because I already know the answer, but it would otherwise be better (for the repository) than just discarding the whole thing. – Lawrence


EDIT to preserve the following comment:

@deadrat My 'line of approach' is almost always (1) Has OP made the slightest effort to tailor their question to ELU recommendations? If so, (2) Is it still obviously off-topic? Whether or not, (3) Is there an interesting and on-topic point for discussion, either overt or in what may well be the 'question behind the question'? (4) If so, is an edit preferable before an answer? If I reject at the first stage, I will still consider submitting a related question myself. – Edwin Ashworth

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    I'm sorry; I can't agree that the unqualified 'ELU: every question about English language and usage' fits with most people's beliefs. Take JR's opinion here on Meta: 'Fact is, there are millions of people on the planet who are trying to improve their English.... – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 9:34
  • Many of them stumble onto ELU, see it as a godsend, and end up asking a “good” question on the “wrong” Stack Exchange. Here's my guess: if those new users were aware of both sites – if they understood the goals and knew the targeted audiences of each – they would have asked on ELL instead of ELU. ' / WRT the question involved, (a) the title and body would need editing to license your interpretation; (b) a person not capitalising I / Suits and asking 'Which is correct?' about two obviously correct sentences isn't asking for the answer your 'deeper question' interpretation demands. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 9:42
  • @EdwinAshworth My answer is consistent with JR's insofar as we both say to tell them about Learners. As for the wording in the tours: they serve to highlight the problem. But use any comparison you like. The fact is that there is a huge overlap between the two sites. I'm simply saying to tell the OP about Learners, then let the OP self-select which site they want to ask at. – Lawrence Sep 16 '16 at 14:21
  • @EdwinAshworth Regarding the want/need question, I was talking about the core of the question. Yes, the text can be tidied up, but that's easy to do. And yes, it suggests a non-native speaker - but we can also ignore that. ELU is a Q&A repository, and it doesn't matter who submits Q or A, so long as the Q is of interest to at least one (other) etymologist, linguist or English enthusiast, and the A is well-supported / well-reasoned (and, of course, correctly answers the Q). My note about the core of the question is saying that there is something interesting in the Q. – Lawrence Sep 16 '16 at 14:29
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    The trouble is that the 'core of the question' is often not what OP really wants; they want a simplistic bit of Year 6-7 school English. And often, answers at that level are given, which is certainly not what I believe most people here on ELU for a long time desire. ELL was set up at least partly to deflect more basic questions from having to be dealt with on ELU. // Answering the question more accomplished linguists may see behind the surface question posed by OP is of dubious legitimacy if OP probably doesn't see it. Note that Andrew and others consider this question should be close-voted. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 16:47
  • @EdwinAshworth Sadly, I agree. Still, one can suggest it to the OP in the hopes that they'd adopt it. – Lawrence Sep 16 '16 at 16:50
  • !? That (your first sentence) seems at odds with most of the remarks in your answer. / To re-open, one would virtually have to write a new question (see my comment above). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 16:55
  • @EdwinAshworth Well, I sometimes to look at questions a little differently. If the question as presented isn't all that interesting but there's a gem in there somewhere, it's useful to the repository for that gem to be taken out and polished, preferably by the original poster. If the OP refuses, then yes, the right thing to do would be to ask a new question instead of editing the existing one. I wouldn't do it in this case because I already know the answer, but it would otherwise be better (for the repository) than just discarding the whole thing. – Lawrence Sep 16 '16 at 17:03
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    Worth noting: it's only been possible to migrate questions to ELL since it's been out of beta, and all questions which were migrated there by the community were migrated after it graduated. SE doesn't permit beta sites to be migration targets (because that would interfere with self-determination of site scope). Anyway, I tend to vote to migrate quality questions asked in good faith by people obviously learning English as a foreign language. That's my benchmark. PS: You should refer to ELL as "ELL", because now there's also Language Learning, which creates an ambiguity for "Learners". – Dan Bron Sep 16 '16 at 22:41
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    @DanBron Thanks for the note - I wasn't aware of the migration block in Beta sites. Other than for historical reasons, I think it's a bit odd that we have a migration path to Learners and not to Linguistics, Writers or Philosophy, etc. I used to call Learners "ELL", but have started using Learners because it seemed that "send them to ELL" sounds a bit too close to the version with a gratuitous "H" for my comfort :) . Thanks also for your note about Language Learning, though the difference between Learners and Learning, and the discussion's context, should be enough to separate the two. – Lawrence Sep 16 '16 at 23:17
  • @DanBron I tend to vote to migrate quality questions asked in good faith.... How do you determine that last? – deadrat Sep 25 '16 at 1:56
  • @EdwinAshworth The trouble is that the 'core of the question' is often not what OP really wants[.] Why is this a trouble? Have we started giving a damn about what low-rep posters want, and I somehow missed it? – deadrat Sep 25 '16 at 2:02
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    @deadrat My 'line of approach' is almost always (1) Has OP made the slightest effort to tailor their question to ELU recommendations? If so, (2) Is it still obviously off-topic? Whether or not, (3) Is there an interesting and on-topic point for discussion, either overt or in what may well be the 'question behind the question'? (4) If so, is an edit preferable before an answer? If I reject at the first stage, I will still consider submitting a related question myself. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 25 '16 at 13:40
  • @EdwinAshworth Fine, but it doesn't answer my question as nowhere in your algorithm do I see any consideration of what the OP "really wants", presumably from the answer. – deadrat Sep 25 '16 at 18:04
  • @deadrat I often try to provide answers in 'comments' to questions I believe are too basic for ELU, thus helping OP and not trivialising the site. Many others do too (eg '[W]e write stuff in comments that is too obvious to qualify for an answer. [This] is not really a topic for a site for linguists and etymologists, and we don't want it to become a topic.'' – Reg Dwight). But others ignore such site recommendations. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 25 '16 at 20:12

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