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One year ago today, English Language Learners entered private beta. A week later, it opened to the public, and since then the questions and answers have been rolling in!

So, what have we accomplished?

  • We're getting 19.4 questions per day. Early on, this statistic hovered around the 15 mark, largely fueled by Listenever's quest to understand Harry Potter. Although our question rate waned a bit, it never dropped too far, and as of today it's higher than it's ever been. We now have 4780 questions, which puts us at an average of 13/day for the last year.

  • We have 3,958 total users. Of those, 282 users have more than 200 reputation. We've had some turnover, gaining some great new users and losing a few who are sorely missed. But many other users have stuck with ELL the whole year, and I feel like overall our participation is on the way up.

  • Our visits have risen to 6562 per day. I remember this statistic being around 150 when I joined, and every time I've checked it it's been higher and higher yet. We're doing great on this metric! I imagine it must include both new users and people finding existing answers on Google.

  • Fully 99% of questions have answers. We answer almost everything here, and though not every question gets multiple answers, I personally think the quality of the answers is more important than how many answers each question gets.

Statistics aside, we've also seen the introduction of , including StoneyB's rather detailed post on perfect constructions. We've more or less figured out what's on topic and what's not. Besides that, we've started a resources page, and as of late our chat room has been fairly active. Overall, I feel like ELL has been a great resource for learners, and I can only hope it will continue to be.

On the down side, some users remain confused about the difference between ELU and ELL. Most of the discussion of the difference occurs over on ELU's meta, in part because ELU is the more popular site and in part because that's where ELL was born; and on ELU meta, we find posts like J.R.'s describing the difference, but we also find posts like Gilles' describing the lack of difference. Users both new and old remain confused about the difference after a year of ELL—this problem will need to be addressed one way or the other eventually.

But overall, I think we've accomplished a lot over the last year, and I want to congratulate and thank everyone for making ELL what it is today. Happy birthday, everyone!

Of course, that's just what I think. And I am, after all, only snail transportation. So, everybody, let me ask you: what do you think after one year of ELL? Whether you've been with us the whole time or just joined us recently, whether you ask, answer, or both, whether you load the site up every day or you only post once in a while, I want to know what you think! How is ELL doing?

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    THanks for making this awesome post! And yes, Happy Birthday to this site that we love :) I think we're doing great, and that everything you've posted supports that conclusion wholeheartedly. (I've posted what I think about the ELU/ELL issue elsewhere; I won't try and expand upon that in a comment here!) I look forward to what others have to say in response to this thread. And let's all take a moment to pat ourselves on the back for bringing ELL this far! :) – WendiKidd Jan 23 '14 at 21:06
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    I think we're doing just fine and it keeps getting better. There are lots of gems here. We even have canonical posts! What's more to ask for when We have great knowledgeable people who are kind enough to provide such great answers. And we have many users keep posting those interesting questions too. However, the concern you mentioned is a valid one. Perhaps ELU and ELL might need to come together to establish the guidelines more firmly. But now is our 1st birthday celebration time! – Damkerng T. Jan 23 '14 at 22:04
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ELL is a great place for me to learn English. The community is always helping out. I am certain that my English has been improved noticeably since the time I joined the community. It is great to meet nice people here, be helped, and be able to help others in return. I wish the community to keep growing and thriving strong through this whole year. And not just this year, but also the next years to come.

May your questions be clear and your answers illuminating!

Congratulations!!!

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    ++ And thank you for your contribution. Are you aware that for the two months leading up to the Birthday you provided more answers than any other user on ELL? My hat's off to you! – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 25 '14 at 1:53
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Thanks for the positive message.

That bit about the difference between ELL and ELU is a sticking point, and I've thought about it a lot over the past year. I've concluded that the difference isn't so much about the kinds of questions that are being asked, but the kinds of answers that are being solicited.

If a learner has a question that stems from inexperience with the language, and wants someone to confirm a hunch, or explain an English quirk, then ELL is the perfect place to ask. For example, I liked Jay's answer about the expression go home:

For every other place I can think of, we say "go to" or "stay at/in":

  • Go to work. Stay at work. Go to the store. Stay at the store. Go to France. Stay in France. Etc. No fluent English speaker would say "Go store" or "Stay library".

But with "home", we routinely omit the prepositions. "Stay home" is just as acceptable as "Stay at home", and people almost never say "go to home", it's always "go home".

Idioms and conventions are not always totally logical or consistent. That's what makes learning English such an adventure.

Compare that to an ELU answer about opening the door:

I'll open you the door is ungrammatical because you won't wind up owning the door by virtue of my opening it.

Ordinary bitransitive verbs of transfer (tell, throw, bring, hand, pass, send, etc.), where the direct object (the trajector, semantically) is transferred from the subject (the source) to the indirect object (the goal), normally are subject to the Dative Alternation:

  • I'll tell/throw/bring/hand/pass/send the answer to him.
  • I'll tell/throw/bring/hand/pass/send him the answer.

Besides these, however, there's also a Benefactive construction, which uses for instead of to, and identifies someone for whose benefit something is done.

So, if someone thinks that "go home" just sounds unusual, and mainly wants a more proficient speaker to confirm, "Yup, that's the way we say it!" then ELL is the place to ask.

But if someone wants to know the technical reasons for such idiosyncrasies (that is, to have someone explain how something sounds unusual because of the differences between the Dative Alternation and the Benefactive construction), then that answer should be sought on ELU.

Perhaps all that will prove too confusing to newcomers, and eventually we'll be put back into the same pot. I hope that's not the case, though. I've learned to expect different kinds of discussions at each site – one geared toward learner, one geared toward the fluent enthusiast – and I think they both work better when separated instead of combined.

But only time will tell. In the meantime, someone please hand me a slice of that cake.

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    +1 Give the man a slice with an icing rosette on it. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 24 '14 at 22:50

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