I have been monitoring our site statistics since October 2016 and have noticed that the average number of questions per day has rarely exceeded 1. The highest average I have found is 1.4 (27.12.2016, 24-25.01.2017); the lowest was 0.1 (06-09.08.2017). The number of visitors per day has tripled since October 2016 and the number of users has also grown, but that growth has been slowing down since mid-December 2017.

Although it's OK for our site to remain in perpetual beta, I would like to avoid the fate of Personal Productivity SE, which was closed down on 6 March of this year. (The low average of questions per day of 0.4 reflects the fact that people stopped asking question when the shutdown was announced; it was originally much higher than on our site.) One of the reasons given in the meta post about the site's shutdown was low voting activity, which has also been an issue on this site.

Our help centre explains What topics can I ask about here? and What types of questions should I avoid asking?. The "Don't Ask" page probably doesn't need changing, but I'm wonder if we can come up with ways to extend the scope of our site without ending up with more bad subjective questions.

If you can think of something of topics that can be added to the site's scope, please post one answer per topic. (I'll also post a "no" answer that people opposed to an extended scope can vote on.) At some point after Easter, I want to take up the topic of again, and any new topics that might have been added to our scope could get included in a YouTube video or other materials.

  • In the light of declining activity, I think we should expand the scope of our site. I'm just not sure how. I don't see anyway to expand the scope without getting very subjective questions. I think we need to devote more time to site promotion.
    – fi12
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 21:46
  • 2
    I've been doing some digging in my spare time, and language learning blogs seem to be rather plentiful. Many of them accept guest posts. Since our blog would be starting from ground zero (and it would take away from effort put into this site) maybe guest posting on language learning blogs would be worth our time?
    – Hatchet
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 2:47
  • 1
    I think there's plenty of niche as it is, but we have too little an audience. Something we must keep in mind when considering expanding the scope of this site is that we cannot infringe on the scope of other sites. Aside from each of the language-specific SE sites, we also need to be careful of Psychology & Neuroscience, Linguistics, and Academia.
    – Hatchet
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 2:58
  • @Hatchet Those guest posts are an interesting idea; I added it to my monster list of site promotion ideas.
    – Tsundoku Mod
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 19:58
  • 3
    I wonder if there might be room for some sort of collaboration with the language-specific SE sites. I'm not quite sure what it would look like, but on principle, there should be a big overlap between people asking "What's the proper conjugation of <word> in <language>?" and those who can benefit from this site. Maybe if we're more intentional about cross -pollination, we can increase traffic here without a scope change.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 6:54

2 Answers 2


No, we should not broaden the scope

This may sound like a devil's advocate answer, but I truly believe that broadening the scope will be useless if not harmful. Here are several considerations. My wording may seem to be a bit emotional, I apologize in advance as I didn't mean to offend anyone; any ideas to improve this post would be greatly appreciated.

  1. LL.SE has a very well-defined scope: it is for people who are constantly doing¹… the language acquisition in their lives; the existing on-/off-topic rules only shape the core principle above;
  2. One does not change the scope out of a clear blue sky. There must be some people who tried pushing the limits and get their question closed.
    1. We should look at the attempted questions that have been closed as off-topic. I can not recall any topic being recurrently asked about and closed over and over on this site.
    2. I have just checked all 59 closed questions, and, beside the duplicates/opinionated, most belong to Linguistics.SE or specific language sites.
      There is nothing to change there.
  3. Widening the scope is like the extensive farming; its effect is very limited and leads to subsequent extensions in the future; we should focus on intensive approach instead (generate more content within the existing scope);
  4. Suppose we change the scope. How do we spread the news? Who will know it? currently 103 users with 200+ rep? — come on;
  5. The key problem of LL.SE is the lack of prominent users who visit the site on a regular basis.
  6. Who are there people? — avid University students² and language teachers who are doing¹ the language acquisition regularly and repeatedly.
  7. How to attract them?
    1. write invitation letters;
    2. film promotion videos;
    3. use a bot to mirror the posts to social networks; a prominent user at Ukrainian.SE has created one for Facebook, here's how it looks; then you can share the posts from there to your contacts;

(¹) I learned this from numerous Atheism proposals at Area51: the main reason why it was denied is that (IIRC, loosely quoting user Shog9) each SE site is for people who are doing the [proposal subject] in their lives. There is no such thing like "doing atheism".
Similarly, LL.SE is for people who are doing the language acquisition. If we want shape the scope, answer to yourself: what topics these people were unable to post before now and are proposed to be on-topic? I guess, there are few if any.

(²) We at Ukrainian Language.SE have a similar problem; Ukrainian.SE is maybe the smallest site among the language SE sites, and for the first year we received about 600 questions, about 0.3 questions per day and declining.
Then, about 5 weeks ago, out of a sudden, about 80 new users joined — apparently, most of them are students of a single linguistic university, and the stats improved dramatically. Let me repeat, it is only one university with maybe a thousand students totally.

  • 3
    I believe I agree with the sentiments expressed here. I'm not opposed, on principle, to expanding the scope. However, I am very hesitant to expand the scope for the sake of expanding the scope. That is to say, I think a clear reason needs to exist to expand the scope in a particular area--not just "site performance."
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 6:51

I'm new here, mainly to get a single question answered that I originally posted on Linguistics.SE, but was told here might be better. I'm not likely to be much of an active member at all on this site, and further, I know practically nothing about the history behind this site (or the other one mentioned below) on why it was formed, so keep that in mind.

However, I do think this site has a serious issue with scope in relation to Linguistics.SE. I get that from simply comparing the questions that are allowed in scope between each site. I've copied the current (4/20/2018) one's from LL.SE's page, only numbered them for reference:

  1. Questions about learning or teaching techniques regarding any human language, including dead, unspoken and constructed languages.
  2. Questions regarding definite obstacles faced by anyone learning a language.
  3. Questions regarding specific language learning techniques or resources, and their effectiveness in comparison to others.
  4. Requests seeking books, studies, web sites, or other resources supporting the scientific basis for any aspect of language study.
  5. Questions seeking hard-to-find learning resources for a specific language. Be as specific as possible.
  6. Questions regarding the use of language-learning or teaching software or technology (i.e. Duolingo, Anki, etc.) in conjunction with the learning/teaching process.

Now LNG.SE's in scope questions based on the current (4/20/2018) page, also numbered for reference:

  1. any natural language from a linguistics point of view
  2. Linguistics phenomena during history
  3. the Linguistics subcategories
  4. currents, theories [I assume this is supposed to be "current theories"], and their applications in actual languages
  5. a single word in relation to multiple languages or a single word/single language
  6. papers/articles on a given topic
  7. Sign Languages and writing systems
  8. fictional/constructed/planned languages
  9. and more!

I've specifically included one of the links they give, because that is important. The link above goes to a listing of "linguistics disciplines" that are allowed, of which the "L" category includes (bold added):

Language acquisition, Language assessment, Language development, Language education

To someone like me, that fact alone sure seems to cover the exact same points that are the whole of Language Learning's existence, but specifically of LL's numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, and maybe 6. LNG has as of this writing, 116 questions tagged as language-acquisition and 67 in tagged second-lang-acquisition (and there may be some other relevant tags that I am not noticing). Those 183 questions equal 27% of LL's current total of 658 total questions (so significant competition), but just 3% of LNG's current 5896 total questions. So language learning questions on LNG have a major impact on this site, while being a contribution, but small, to LNG's total.

Additionally LNG's #4 & 6 above parallels LL's #4 above. Of course, LL's "and more!" is vague, but considering there is already almost a 100% overlap with just a portion of LNG's allowed questions to LL's whole, it makes for troubled site viability for LL.

Both sites specifically shy away from allowing translation requests and specifics about specific languages (deferring to those language sites).

In short, from an "outsiders" perspective, it seems like either LNG needs to be convinced to "back away" from there sub-disciplines noted in their "L" listing of the link or LL should "merge" their questions/community with LNG to perhaps help lift both groups out of beta. It seems maybe LNG can be tempted to back away, as they specifically list in the don't ask:

Advice or help on learning a foreign language

But yet that becomes confusing, considering their sub-discipline allowance of language acquisition and education. I suspect they are open to more "theoretical" questions on those, and less on "practical application" (as it states, "advice or help" is out of bounds). But I do not know if that leaves enough room for LL.SE to find a niche that makes it viable.

I hope these thoughts at least help those interested in seeing LL.SE succeed in some form to consider whether broadening of scope is needed.


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