48

I don't agree that questions that can be googled are automatically suspect. Everything can be googled, and what's first or second in the results today might not be there tomorrow. If we want to become that first search result, then we need to be willing to answer the question. Also, just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's true: if you don't know ...


20

I've come back to this meta question on account of the 2014 Mod election. I have this to add: since the beginning of ELU, many answer-providing users have objected to being treated like dictionary operators. There are so many questions that could be easily answered by a simple dictionary lookup. There are so many questions that arise from a dictionary lookup....


16

questions about Old and Middle English are on-topic (there is past discussion on the topic) but that doesn't guarantee that anybody here will have an answer to in OE or ME question whether they are on-topic currently or not, I don't think they should be considered and made off-topic. as suggested linguistics.SE is an appropriate alternative that might get ...


13

I feel like this "problem" has been around for a while: how to define what is too basic and not interesting to the desired audience of the site. Well, consider the instructions that new users see when asking a question (for the first time) are How to Ask Is your question about English language and usage? We prefer questions that can be answered, ...


13

I have no problem with good questions about prepositions. However, too many preposition questions are irksomely similar, and read a lot like a Mad Lib: I recently found the word _______________________ (verb), but I want to know, is it better to say: _____________ (same verb) __________ (short preposition), or: _____________ (same verb ...


13

In general, cross-posting is prohibited on the StackExchange network. Which means if you're seeking, fundamentally, a single answer, you should choose the best venue to get that answer, and ask only there. That said, if you want to ask a fundamentally different but related question, and you believed that new question would be better placed on a different ...


12

I think that they're fine. The Downton Abbey question is probably NARQ for being overly broad as it asks for the identification of an entire cast of characters. The Brad Pitt question is fine, IMO. Ideally though, both these questions should have provided a link to a sample of the accent. That said, I don't think either question would be out of place on ...


12

I don't think anyone who has read any of my comments here or on ELU would call me a "happy-close snob". I do however close questions which are duplicates, but not blindly. I look at the original question and the answers provided; if they are well formulated, authoritative and clear I consider the new question to have been answered satisfactorily. I hope that ...


11

Subjects which are on-topic are listed in the Help text. The English Language and Usage Stack Exchange is for linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts. Questions on the following topics are welcomed here: Word choice and usage Grammar Etymology (history of words’ development) Dialect differences Pronunciation (...


10

Prepositions are tricky to use and the only way to get them right most of the time is to be born in a country that speaks English. So I think it makes sense to allow people to ask them. However, there is a strong bias on this site towards being anti-ELL, that is, a notion that english.stackexchange.com is a site for fluent users. I don't hold to that but I ...


10

I'd like to applaud you for your sense of care and caution. Generally speaking, when asking a question like this, it's good to include: Where you found the word, and why you are asking the question. What you found when you looked in dictionaries. You did all that – and you haven't even asked your question yet! To answer your larger issue, there's nothing ...


10

As referenced in this Meta question, asking about a swear word is absolutely okay (as long as your question meets all the standard criteria, of course); the mere fact that it is a question about a swear word should not bring any opprobrium. The primary restriction is that you should post in a polite, civil manner, which means that you should not actually ...


9

I think that you should just ask the question, referring to the mistakes that you have found in the OED1. The fact that you have consulted a reference and found it lacking generally protects you from being closed as Gen Ref. However, don't phrase your question as a simple query about what's in the OED3, but rather simply present it directly, and let somebody ...


9

A few thoughts: I realize the suggested language comes straight from the Help Center, but the word "thoroughly" jumps out at me as sounding kind of, well, cranky. As far as I'm concerned, SE is part of the process of conducting thorough research. We don't want to make it sound like we don't like being asked questions at all. Along the same lines, I assume ...


9

tl,dr: Making ELL a migration target for non-moderators risks making matters worse, not better. There is great confusion about what makes a question suitable for migration. The main problem here is not the betaness one. That’s a red herring. Rather, the real reason the migration list is always a very a short list on all SE sites is because users, even ...


9

I asked a question about how to request a historical lock for old but seemingly popular questions that don't meet current site standards for preliminary research (or some other criterion) here: How can users nominate old, popular questions for exemption from closure as being of 'historical value'? Since I stated explicitly there that my preference ...


9

thanks to all, I don't know English well (as elementary translator or trying to learn more by translating ! ). but. when i ask questions. the questions are not very technical (usually I don't need the meaning of technical words), but my questions are about phrases (usual idioms that native English speakers understand them, something like reading newspaper ...


8

{Off-Topic} How do I make this (citation, document, quote, whatever) conform to MLA (or APA, or any other) style guidelines? [vote up if you agree it should be off-topic, vote down if you think it should be on-topic]


8

And if it ends up being the former, should a question still be downvoted? Down-voting isn't primarily intended for punishment. Its main purpose is to rate and rank questions and answers according to their quality. If a question is unclear because the author is struggling to use English, or unclear because he lacked the care to make it clear... It doesn't ...


8

I'm taking my moderator hat off here. I don't want this answer to be construed as EL&U policy (unless it's agreed that it should be). I think I disagree with your definition of cheating. To me cheating is breaking the rules to get ahead, and the way you break the rules is detrimental to the other people you are competing against. Education is not a ...


8

I don't like blanket prohibitions, except for ones canonized in the Help Center, so I'm not going to say tip of the tongue questions are never suitable, just that they are almost never suitable. A "tip of the tongue" question is just a Single Word Question to which the OP already knows, but temporarily cannot access, the answer. Often, the answer comes ...


8

I you're having trouble learning English, then please look up the English Learner's Stack Exchange Site, https://ell.stackexchange.com/. If you want to know if your question is on topic, you need to be more specific in your question here. Strictly speaking asking if a particular collection of words is a sentence is off topic. So if your question is "Is "A ...


7

The question was closed as "general reference" because, at least as written, you were asking us to do the job of a dictionary. The good news is, it would be easy to improve the question so that it could be reopened: Look up the word in a dictionary or two or three, and add the information you find there into the question. Describe why the dictionary ...


7

Word and phrase requests are the most interesting part of this site in my opinion. It's the only time I see idioms and expressions and words I've never seen before and learn new ones. It's always enlightening to have that "I didn't know there was a word for that" moment. It also accustoms you to expressions and idioms from other languages from which the OP ...


7

Here are some random thoughts off the top of my head in no particular order. One problem is — which is why Martha mentioned "not constructive" —, your question is very open-ended. A bigger problem still: it's more open-ended than it need be. People will start googling for the same things you already googled for, suggesting things you already rejected, ...


7

Pronunciation is on-topic, so accents probably are. I see nothing wrong with asking about the accents of public figures, or even anonymous "vox pop" interviewees if there is an example to listen to1. However, asking about portrayals of fictional characters is probably off-topic: that would be a question about the actor's interpretation. A well-known example ...


7

The short answer is no. The longer answer is that a question like you propose would not have any conceivable right answer, and so it does not fit the SE Q&A format. It would most likely be closed as "primarily opinion-based" because of this. Alternatively, you might possibly find some people in chat who would be interested in discussing your topics.


7

suppose that for unexplained (but possibly mystical) reasons of my own i decide to capitalize every Seventeenth word in my answer to this question. on the one hand, such a decision seems difficult To characterize as "normative" since it isn't something most people do, and since it isn't calculated to Make what i write easier for readers to comprehend. but on ...


7

Primarily because it is a question of human reaction, rather than one of syntax or language subtleties, it would probably not be considered on-topic.


7

We don't do interpretations of writing on this site, but you can ask in our chat room. You may find some people who are interested in talking over author intent and artistic meaning.


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