-20

There are a quite a few language learning related sites on the Stack Exchange network. I may have missed a few, but here they are:

It would be nice to have a single language related site and use tags when asking questions about a specific language. Stack Overflow already does something similar for programming languages.

Benefits

  • Automatic support for minority or endangered languages. There are thousands of languages that will never have enough support to create their own SE site. Yet many have a core group of learners and researchers that would benefit from being able to ask and answer questions just by adding a new tag.
  • Cross-language questions. Many languages are related to each other. A common site would make it easy to ask a question about something that covers two languages. Just add both language tags.
  • Cut down on the proliferation of new SE sites. I don't know that having lots of sites is necessarily bad, but sometimes less is more.
  • Better search engine results. I can't guarantee this one, but it seems likely. Stack Overflow is always near the top for programming language questions, but I rarely find SE language sites when I search for English or Chinese related questions.

I suppose that everyone is too entrenched in their own communities now to change, but I thought I would suggest it anyway.

  • 1
    Just so you know, Linguistics.SE considers cross-language questions -and- languages not covered in specific SE sites to be on-topic. – Mitch Aug 2 at 22:57
7

I appreciate the idea of wanting a place for all languages, particularly those that can't sustain a site of their own.

What this fails to address is that many of these sites either require or at least allow questions in the site language (e.g. French or English on the French site), making a composite site particularly confusing for everyone involved. With the network structure the way it is currently, I don't see how we'd be able to make this work.

It's true that we do this for programming languages on Stack Overflow but we still separate out sites about programming by the language the questions are asked in - what you're asking for is similar to smashing together Stack Overflow in English with all of the international sites (Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese). We don't have any intention of doing that, either.

It's better to support the sites we have as they currently are than to create a polyglot site like what you suggest.

  • I was thinking of an English based site for multiple languages similar to how Stack Overflow does it. But as you say, the people who allow multiple languages on the current site wouldn't like that. – Suragch Aug 3 at 0:07
  • Less popular languages would be swamped by the more popular ones. You could probably look at the rate of ELU questions in comparison to say Ukranian. – marcellothearcane Aug 4 at 15:35
4

Catija's answer is spot on. I think I should add a few pointers why this might not be as good an idea as you think.

A polyglot site sounds great at first glance, but I reckon most polyglot questions would be translation requests, including which is not a good idea because

  1. Most of them are low quality. They rarely ever show any attempt, unless it's from an interested learner.
  2. It's very hard to gather an active userbase of experts. To be able to translate a word, a Google or a dictionary might suffice, but phrases and sentences require fluency or expertise in at least two languages. Furthermore, even assuming an amazing amount of discoverability, for the 20 or so actively spoken languages around the internet, there would be about 380 combinations of the 'duo' languages for translators. That would be absolutely chaotic for a site.
  3. Translation questions would spread like a plague, if left unchecked. Among the sites you mentioned, sometimes translation questions of [language] → English are on-topic and answered to a limited extent. However, like all common forms of questions that don't require much thought beforehand, they can take over the homepage easily. They are, I think, similar to the dreaded 'homework' questions of the science sites, and debugging questions of SO.

You say, and I quote

There are thousands of languages that will never have enough support to create their own SE site. Yet many have a core group of learners and researchers that would benefit from being able to ask and answer questions just by adding a new tag.

This unfortunately suffers from the familiar traction problem. SE communities should be able to attract a diverse range of users in the very beginning. You're assuming the few experts would fully dedicate themselves to the site as soon as we created it, and that is an unrealistic expectation. What defines an SE site is its content, and it's not merely a gathering of interested people about a topic.

You'd need enough users to create enough content to spark more interest in themselves and the outsiders alike. Think of it like the ball that needs to go a bit higher first before it can roll down the hill. If you don't have enough force to push it up the hill first, you risk not getting it down ever.


This is really only speculation, not experience, but another potential problem could be the way people use the language sites and their tags. SO is unique in that its tags have developed a community of their own, but people on language sites rarely filter as tags, unless it's in order to never see questions from particular tags (as opposed to filtering for the topic they're an expert in).

There's also the fact that an orangutan coding in Java or C would know the language it's coding in, but tags in language sites are vaguely defined. Take , for example. It's disputed what it even constitutes, and to add the confusion, some people tag every language question they have as . I think I recall the regular folks in ELL and ELU reached a consensus a while ago that the tagging system for SO just doesn't work as well for language sites (c.f. its alternatives, such as hierarchial tagging.)

As such, a vision of SO tagging communities applied to a mega language site would probably not work out as smoothly.

  • I'm sure those would be problems, but then, the same sorts of problems exist on Stack Overflow (low quality, homework, etc). It would take a good team of moderators. It's a mute point, though, since the request was declined. – Suragch Aug 3 at 0:11
  • @Suragch we don't need more questions, just because they exist elsewhere! – marcellothearcane Aug 4 at 15:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .