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According to the Help Center

This is not the right site for questions about:

So why do these tags even exist on ELL?


One possible legitimate use for the tag is when history is the subject matter for the context of the question, similar to . However, only one of the 7 current questions uses it that way, and even that is contrary to the tag wiki:

Use this tag for questions relating to English word origins and historical usage. Note that such questions may be better served on the English Language and Usage site.

As for the other questions, they are either off-topic and should be closed, or just completely mistagged. I'd like to see the tag eliminated.


As for and , those tags should be burninated and possibly blacklisted. All of those questions should be closed (or historical-locked) as well. These tags can have no benefit to ELL, as their existence only encourages the posting of off-topic questions.

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  • I browsed through questions tagged with "early-modern-english". There are 7 of them. Four are old (before or in March 2013), one is closed, one asked "Is this still possible in modern English?" (so it should be fine), but I still can't figure out why this one was tagged so. :-) – Damkerng T. Sep 10 '14 at 20:27
  • @DamkerngT Even "Is this still possible in modern English?" would be a question about evolution, and would be better on EL&U. – 200_success Sep 10 '14 at 20:28
  • Hmm... The question didn't make me think so. (Though it might be possible that it's as you said.) It seems like the OP was reading A Midsummer Night's Dream and wondered, "is it okay if I use this?" Because the OP's intention was unclear to me, I think I would give them the benefit of the doubt. – Damkerng T. Sep 10 '14 at 20:32
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    Related discussion, with FumbleFingers strongly against EModE and StoneyB for. – snailplane Sep 12 '14 at 8:02
  • Related question: Abolish off-topic tags [etymology] and [resources] – 200_success Nov 6 '14 at 12:02
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The real question in my opinion is not whether certain questions are OK to ask here, but whether it makes any sense to tag them as . If they're on-topic here, they should be tagged with something that adds more information about the question and is more likely to be used in a search, like .

I would support removing the tags simply to encourage questions to be categorized in more meaningful ways. Fewer, more meaningful tags on a question make it easier to find related questions in my opinion. If a question is tagged and and it isn't asking about a difference between American and British English, both tags should be removed because they add no information. I almost want a "American-British-Difference" tag instead for those questions that aren't asking specifically about American or British usage but rather the difference between them so that questions won't need to be tagged with both.

Likewise, if someone is asking about verb tenses and happens to use a quote from Shakespeare, adds much more information than at least for this site. The answer may be "that use is archaic" but that doesn't mean that the question is about historical English; it's about verb tense.

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I don't believe the ELL/ELU boundaries can be drawn so simply and clear-cut.

Whether a question belongs on ELL or ELU is only partly related to the content of the question. It's also related to the kind of answer sought. Learners are looking for answers for learners – answers that assume the O.P. has rudimentary or developing English skills.

I think most questions about early modern English probably belong on ELU. However, I have no problem with a learner asking a learner's question about a quote from, say, Romeo and Juliet, or the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and adding the tag.

I'm not sure that the mere existence of a tag "encourages" off-topic questions. I think most folks ask questions in order to get an answer to a question they already have, as opposed to coming here to browse tags and see what kind of questions they might be able to invent. Moreover, I don't want to see us get in the mindset of automatically closing any question that happens to quote a work predating the 19th century.

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  • But why not ask or migrate those questions to EL&U instead? It would just be a more appropriate audience overall. It's not like there is a membership fee or an entrance exam to join EL&U. – 200_success Sep 13 '14 at 10:55
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    Alternatively, why not just abandon the rule that limits ELL to standard modern English? We could just let anyone who self-identifies as an English language learner ask whatever. – 200_success Sep 13 '14 at 10:56
  • @200 - I'm not aware of any rule that limits ELL to standard modern English. That said, I think the site's most useful questions are going to be centered around how people speak the language today, not how they wrote the language 300 years ago. – J.R. Sep 14 '14 at 7:08
  • Then explain the remark about historical English in the help center? – 200_success Sep 14 '14 at 7:19
  • @200 - As I've tried to say, the community needs to look at each case individually, not blindly. I don't think this is the right place to ask 37 questions about Shakespeare or the King James Bible – but you might be able to get away with one or two, depending on how it's framed. It mostly depends on the question's broader applicability to the wider audience. As for the remark in the help center, it's for the most part true: Most questions about antiquated English probably belong on ELU, but I don't think that means we need to blacklist or burninate the tag. – J.R. Sep 14 '14 at 7:24
  • @200_success I don't think that bit in the help center was based on any sort of meta consensus. – snailplane Sep 14 '14 at 11:36

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