An ELL user recently posted a meta question, but then deleted it within minutes after it was posted. Too bad, because it was addressing an issue I thought needed to be brought up.
The question surrounded a recent ELL answer (more specifically, the editorial comments within that answer):
I am sorry, but I don't understand all these questions and complicated answers. I can't imagine how a simple [issue] can raise such a grammatical discussion.
These comments were (rightfully, in my mind) edited out of the answer, but they reminded me of a couple other comments I saw just the day before:
Eye opening. It seems trivial to be answering such simple phrases with such an elaborate answer. It would seem to me, if you can understand this answer, you should already know the answer to the question. Gonna explore this stack some more, but so far, i [sic] don't see the point?
I seriously dont understand how people can understand EVERY answer I've seen on this site and still ahve [sic] the questions they do! Like I wouldn't even know how to answer a question, because I feel like I'd have to explain every other word I used. It just doesn't make sense to me. Point is, it appears useless, and in my mind, that doesn't make sense.
I'm surprised someone needs to say this, but let me say it: this Stack Exchange is for people who are learning English as a second (or third, or maybe even fourth) language.
Please, no more editorial comments about "Why is this such a big deal? This is trivial!" – not in answers, not in comments. Moreover, no, these questions not trivial. Puzzled native speaker, imagine that you had a question about Italian, or Korean, or Farsi: How easy would it be for you to get confused? How challenging might it be to pose your question in that language? And how appreciative would you be if a native speaker graciously took time to offer a detailed explanation?
This Stack Exchange was set up so a confused non-native could ask these questions without any condescending remarks. As an example, a simple English word like get can have dozens of meanings – formal and informal, common and uncommon, idiomatic and phrasal. I can get angry, I can get a disease, I can get a joke, I can get a ride home; I can get on a horse, I can get on the ball, I can get on the wagon. That can be a lot to digest, especially in a second or third language.
So, if you find yourself amazed at a detailed answer for a seemingly simple question, and you find yourself wondering, "I can't imagine how a simple issue can raise such a grammatical discussion," I have two recommendations:
- Imagine harder.
- Keep your incredulity to yourself. It isn't welcome here.
Now, I can get off my soapbox.