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I notice a lot of questions asking about whether certain tools are "useful" or "effective" or which languages are more "difficult"/"easy" to learn. Though these questions may seem imprecise and vague or opinion based (ie. what does "useful" mean?), it seems that if the interpretation of these words had a more concrete definition or use-case on this site, these questions would be more well-defined.

For example, asking if a tool or technique is "useful" may be interpreted here as what studies have been done or what data there is regarding that tool or technique and some metric used to define it in (possibly) quantifiable terms.

Should we have a lexicon or terminology list for framing the interpretation of certain "imprecise" words? (I am not suggesting introducing new terms, but providing a consensus on the meanings of commonly used words.)

Could we add tags in Meta regarding "terminology" or "glossary" to discuss these?

Related Questions:

"Useful" isn't usefully defined -- Suggest possible wordings

"difficult" or "easy" isn't meaningful -- Suggest possible wordings

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    BTW, regarding your mini-question . . . I think this is the point where tags should only be created. If they're not useful, they could be removed later. Do as you wish as long as you know you're on the path of trying to help the site improve. – M.A.R. Apr 6 '16 at 16:30
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I'd say not.

Every piece of "LL jargon" we introduce will have a new user more confused. Sure, this isn't a problem since the private beta users are much more likely to see these terms defined here, but we do have plans for future, right?

I see where you're coming from, but this isn't the way. Instead, here is what we can do:

  • Write clear tag wikis: "Answers to questions with this tag should follow these guidelines and be tasty."
  • Lead by example: Yes! This is early private beta, so the better the content you provide, the better the quality of other users' answers will be.
  • Suggest entirely different wording to the OP: I could imagine that a nice guy went on and wrote a "What does useful mean?" here on meta.LL. After that post, any question that uses the vague wording will be put on hold until the OP clarifies which sense of useful they're looking for. An objective process with trivial friction.

However, I think three should be rolled on a bit later when the site scope is clearer than right now.


Edit

This issue seems . We're going to

suggest people to use something else, something less vague, to say what they want. The problem is similar to defining a special meaning for "homework" in Chem.SE. We end up with a lot of OPs shouting "DIS NO MY HOMWERK DOOD" and stop cooperating. People stop helping you help them when they're confused. And if we redefine a term it would be much more confusing than proposing new wordings for it. I'm thinking of writing a meta post asking people what "useful" could mean in a few definitions, then categorizing them in a few useful wordings, along with similar interpretations for some other terms, then write them in a FAQ post and start linking people to it.

Which was along what the OP was looking for after all.

  • I'm not so much interested in introducing new terms, but having a consensus about what common words mean (ie. uniform interpretation of commonly used terms). – callyalater Apr 6 '16 at 16:22
  • In that case, the answer is a yes. Why not define the scope of our site? :) I still think, though, that there are different interpretations for "useful". – M.A.R. Apr 6 '16 at 16:25
  • Regarding "useful", why don't we fix an interpretation for what it means for us on this site? As in, whenever we see that word, we interpret it as _________. I think (like you said) that would better define our scope and better frame the questions to be posed on here. And I completely agree with you about the different interpretations of "useful". – callyalater Apr 6 '16 at 16:29
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    @Cally that goes back to my answer. I don't think we should define "useful", I think we should suggest people to use something else, something less vague, to say what they want. The problem is similar to defining a special meaning for "homework" in Chem.SE. We end up with a lot of OPs shouting "DIS NO MY HOMWERK DOOD" and stop cooperating. People stop helping you help them when they're confused. And if we redefine a term it would be much more confusing than proposing new wordings for it. I'm thinking of writing a meta post asking people what "useful" could mean in a few definitions, [...] – M.A.R. Apr 6 '16 at 16:36
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    [...] then categorizing them in a few useful wordings, along with similar interpretations for some other terms, then write them in a FAQ post and start linking people to it. – M.A.R. Apr 6 '16 at 16:38
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    That is more of the essence of what I was trying to ask. – callyalater Apr 6 '16 at 16:39
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    Let's get rolling then. :) I'm going for "useful", which one is yours? – M.A.R. Apr 6 '16 at 16:40
  • "Difficult"/"Easy". – callyalater Apr 6 '16 at 16:42
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No.

The problem with having terms with site specific meanings is that we will turn it into a conversation between a bunch of insiders. That would discourage new members on the site. It gets too few page views as it is (and is performing well on most other metrics because of a bunch of relatively avid users).

We run the risk of drifting in that direction with questions about whether or not something is "useful," "difficult" or "easy." But turning such words into site "jargon" isn't the solution. A lasting solution is to come up with acceptable substitutes in standard English that everyone can understand.

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