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Proposal: Chinese Language & Usage

I'm sure it wasn't done on purpose, but the current definition implies that only the finer points of Chinese language can be discussed. But it would be nice if the not-so-fine points could be discussed too. For example, a beginner might ask if they should write "我很饿" or "我是很饿". It's not really a "fine point" but still a worthy question.

So I propose rewording the proposal to something like:

Proposed Q&A site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss Chinese language.

...

Well actually English is not my first language so I wasn't sure how to rewrite it. Any suggestion? Or perhaps we can just delete the "finer points" part? I think it's not necessary to have it in the definition and, without it, it would be more concise.

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I think it'd be wiser to cut off that last part altogether. I think that identifying your target audience as "students, teachers, and linguists" is sufficient, as the fact you plan to discuss the Chinese Language is inherent from the subject being "Chinese Language and Usage". Doing so should be sufficient to make it more welcoming to beginners without losing the intent of the proposal.

Note that this is how a lot of our other proposals definitions of similar yield work - Biology isn't the "Q&A for active researchers, academics, and students of biology and microbiology and...", but just ""Q&A for active researchers, academics, and students".

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The phrase "… to discuss the finer points" highlights that language sites are not to ask general reference questions. The site is to ask about subtleties, idioms, and deeper subjects that are not easily looked up in a dictionary or other standard reference source.

In other words… the finer points.

As soon as we started opening up these language sites, we immediately started getting questions along the lines of "What is the plural of 'fish'?" Adding the phrase "finer points" simply puts emphasis that we're not here to discuss simply anything about the language.

You aim high for expert-level questions. If someone would like to come in with a basic, beginner-level question, you put the onus on them to do some research. "Provide detail; Share your research." And if they haven't done any, should they even be asking here in the first place?

It's a site to discuss the finer points of the language.

  • A possible issue with talking about "finer points" is that it's very subjective - it means something but it's not a definition. How do we decide if some grammar point is "fine" or not? If you want to restrict the site to a certain level of Chinese, then it should be made explicit. i.e. "Proposed Q&A site for advanced students, teachers, and linguists" (emphasis added). I don't think it's a good idea not to welcome beginners though. – laurent Aug 10 '11 at 16:26
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    @Laurent: "Everyone is welcome. But, in these earliest days, we are DESIGNING a site for experts. To attract experts, you need a site where people are asking very interesting and challenging questions, not the basic questions found on every other Q&A site. Remember, the pro sites WILL attract the enthusiasts, but not the other way around!" -- See blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/07/… – Robert Cartaino Aug 10 '11 at 16:33
  • @Laurent: re: "How do we decide if some grammar point is 'fine' or not?" -- The general description at the top of the proposal is not for defining the exact scope and content of the site. That's what the example questions and, more so, the beta and meta discussions are about. – Robert Cartaino Aug 10 '11 at 16:36
  • actually I would see it the other way around - in the earlies days, I think we should try to attract as many people as possible, without necessarily dumbing down the site. Extremely basic questions like "how to say 'he' in Chinese" would be out, but proper questions, even from beginners, could be answered. As the site grows, we can figure out the problems and tweak the policy to exclude certain types of questions. I think SO is a good example for that - it's started by being very inclusive but now the policy has been refined to produce more quality questions and answers. – laurent Aug 10 '11 at 16:43
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    @Laurent, one problem with that approach is that it is extremely difficult to raise the bar once you've lowered it. Visitors to the public beta site will judge the site based on the body of questions asked, not necessarily on what's in the FAQ, and they will always be pushing to include off-topic questions anyway; including questions at the beginning that would otherwise be off-topic (and not closing them) simply sets up future arguments like "Why was my question closed when questions X, Y, and Z are open?" – Dave DuPlantis Aug 11 '11 at 15:06

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