8

There's been some recent discussion on ELU that, among other things, mentions that some ELU users feel like they're being "kicked out" of ELU and pushed to ask on ELL when asking questions that are either more appropriate for ELL than ELU, or are in "overlap territory" where they could belong on either site.

Now, when we comment on ELU questions and inform users of ELL's existence, we are trying to be helpful. We're trying to give the asker a resource for the future, if the question can remain on ELU, or point them to asking instead on ELL/having their question migrated if it is not an ELU-acceptable question. We're trying to ensure they get answers to their questions, and generate more traffic for our site. This is a good thing.

But if our comments pointing to ELL are being taken the wrong way, perhaps we ought to more carefully consider the way we word them. Are we being too terse in our comments, so they seem like we're brushing the user off? Or what can we do to more clearly explain that we intend to be helpful, and are not trying to force the user out of ELU?

I posted this comment in response to the discussion:

Regarding people feeling like they're being kicked over to ELL, I sincerely hope that's not the case. I know several ELL users who, when viewing a question on ELU that could fit on either site or is better for ELL, mention ELL as a resource for the future. I think our general feeling over at ELL is that not a lot of people know about us yet, so spreading the word is a good thing. But we're not trying to kick anyone anywhere, I promise! We just want you to know we're there. If this is a popular feeling we might consider rewording our comments; we don't want anyone feeling this way. (ELL Mod)

How can we make our intentions more clear? We're trying to do a good thing but it seems to not always be taken that way. Any thoughts? I'm also going to invite the asker of the ELU meta question to this question, in case they'd like to shed more insight as to why they felt brushed off. I think this is very important to discuss, so if you have any thoughts at all please share them!

8

Since I saw that question on Meta.ELU I've been playing with my cut-and-paste answer for pointing users to ELL, and here's my new version:

[Welcome to ELU. -if the user is new] I invite you to visit the English Language Learners StackExchange site, too, where answers are aimed at the needs of learners. Many people, both askers and answerers, are active on both sites. If you think ELL would be better for this question, click on the flag link above and ask that a moderator migrate it.

But if somebody has a better way of saying it I'm eager to use it.

ADDED, 7/10: Taking into accounts the comments below, here's what I used most recently:

Welcome to ELU. I invite you to visit the [ell.SE] StackExchange site, too, where answers are aimed at the needs of learners. (Many of us, both askers and answerers, are active on both sites.) Please take a look around both sites; and if you think ELL would be better for this question, you may delete it here and repost on ELL, or you may click on the flag link above and ask that a moderator migrate it.

  • I would change 'answers are aimed' to 'discussions are centered towards the need of learners'. – EnglishLearner Jun 21 '13 at 17:27
  • 1
    @EnglishLearner Why? (By the way, centered on is the Eh idiom.) – StoneyB Jun 21 '13 at 19:14
  • Your original writing is already good. These two words: questions and answers/ask are in every sentence. One of the things I learned in my English class was not to use the same words in multiple sentences or keep on repeating the same point over and over again. The teacher recommended using different words from thesaurus to construct sentences, so it doesn’t sound boring. Thanks for telling me about the idiom english.stackexchange.com/questions/9254/… – EnglishLearner Jun 21 '13 at 21:11
  • 5
    @EnglishLearner Teachers properly advise learners to do this, because it enlarges your working vocabulary and gives you practice making subtle distinctions. But as a pro I will tell you: 'elegant variation' is likely to confuse your reader, and repetition is often the heaviest hammer in your toolbox. – StoneyB Jun 21 '13 at 21:19
  • I think StoneyB's friendly message is phrased extremely well, and ideal for new users coming to EL&U. It should be clear there are two sites and what their specialities are. But I fear some English learners might find the text a bit too challenging. – Mari-Lou A Jun 23 '13 at 10:45
  • 5
    @Mari-LouA I worry about that with everything I write here. But I always end up saying Dammit, they're grownups. It's English they want to learn, not baby-talk. – StoneyB Jun 23 '13 at 12:34
  • But babies do start speaking by babbling, don't they? It looks to me that the majority of non-native speakers on ELL and EL&U are not beginners or even elementary level, so your philosophy could well be right. This is because you are an academic whereas I am a nurturer. – Mari-Lou A Jun 23 '13 at 13:35
  • @Mari-LouA I'm not an academic (I wish I were). But in my work with actors, I always found it best to demand more than they were comfortable with - to make them stretch themselves. Likewise, my wife and I always spoke the best English we knew to our son, and have been rewarded by finding that he is now capable of speaking pretty-damn-good English back! (Not that he does all the time - but he can.) – StoneyB Jun 23 '13 at 13:42
  • This is my preferred option so far. I think it explains the use of ELL clearly without pushing too hard and making the user think we're insisting they come here. I was trying to think of a way to incorporate Mari-Lou's suggestion (you may find the answer you're looking for here) because I think that is enticing phrasing for an asker, but it seems repetitive given your answers are aimed at the needs of learners. I'm most on board with using this version, and the upvotes seem to agree! – WendiKidd Jun 23 '13 at 16:03
  • @WendiKidd Being active on both sites, I am anxious to avoid suggesting on ELU that you can't or won't get the answer you need there. Some do, some don't. – StoneyB Jun 23 '13 at 17:16
  • You could tweak (ever so slightly) the first sentence to say: Welcome to EL&U You are invited to visit the English Language Learners StackExchange site, too, where you may find the answer you need. Many people, both askers and answerers, are active on both sites. If you think ELL would be better for this question, click on the flag link above and ask that a moderator migrate it. – Mari-Lou A Jun 23 '13 at 17:47
  • @StoneyB Fair point! I hadn't looked at it that way. At any rate, I'm personally happy with this as it stands. If others come along with further suggestions we can continue to tweak of course (I'm very pleasantly surprised with the response to this question!) but I think you've done a very good job of capturing the message here. – WendiKidd Jun 24 '13 at 2:23
  • @Wendi, since our choice is this, I deleted my answer, but I suggest you to consider what ML said both in the above comment, in reference to the style, and in the comment to my answer: Stoney's message + "Please, take a look, or at any rate, be aware that an alternative proposal exist. Thank you." – user114 Jun 24 '13 at 16:57
  • 1
    @Carlo_R I will revise, taking all suggestions into account, and post my revision as an addendum to the above. – StoneyB Jun 24 '13 at 17:28
3

I like jwpat7's last suggestion but I think new users (read: non-native speakers) might be better enticed and feel encouraged with this:

You may find the answer you're looking for in English Language Learners (ELL).

  • Mari-Lou, excellent point! What askers are looking for are answers, after all, so pointing that out is an excellent idea. Thus far I like StoneyB's suggestion the best (I think it explains the situation quite well, without being too forceful) but if we could modify it slightly to put more emphasis on your idea of finding the answers they're looking for here, that would be ideal. thinks how best to do that – WendiKidd Jun 23 '13 at 15:58
2

I've posted the comment “You may find English Language Learners useful” perhaps a dozen times on English Language and Usage. It is a direct and clear statement, not too patronizing or judgemental.

I've also posted comments like the following, but have decided to avoid suggesting that “Questions stemming from English as a second language are on topic” at ELL, or that ELL might be “more appropriate for this question”.

• You may find English Language Learners useful. Questions stemming from English as a second language are on topic there. It's a stackexchange beta site.
English Language Learners might be of interest to you and more appropriate for this question. I suggest you click delete on your question here, and ask it there instead.
• The numerous mistakes in your paragraph might be due to lack of familiarity with the English language. You may find English Language Learners useful. Questions stemming from English as a second language are on topic there. There as here, proofreading proper is off-topic. Try to ask specific, answerable questions – eg, present alternatives and ask which is preferred and why.

Many of the accounts of people who post in ELU are new accounts, suggesting the owners are new to Stack Exchange and perhaps unfamiliar with how it works. That is the reason for occasionally including the sentence “I suggest you click delete on your question here, and ask it there instead”. For most questions, I prefer that they appear in only one of ELL and ELU. Questions can be migrated, but explaining to new users how to get their question migrated may be difficult, and in any case, migration happens haphazardly and is dilatory in execution. On the other hand, a new user on their own can delete their question from one site and copy it to another (unless it's been answered).

Summary: I think a brief comment like the following is suitable when a question on ELU might be a better fit for ELL than ELU.

• You may find English Language Learners useful.

You must log in to answer this question.

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