Home « Forum « Author Hangout

Forum: Author Hangout

StackExchange (ELU) is Great - But It Totally SUCKS!

Ross at Play

I started drafting this post post as a reply to DS elsewhere. He said, "Not anywhere that I have been able to discover," about sites to learn about rules of grammar, quality formal writing, etc.

It really does deserve a new thread of its own ...

@Dominions Son
What a strange coincidence you should say that ... today!

I know somewhere, a site where you may ask questions and have a handful of real expects (retired journalists, ... I expect) about grammar, etc.

However, this site has rules. Boy! Does this site ever have God-damn bloody RULES !!!

It only took about a week before I started throwing shit at the fan.

This is a comment I made to one of the 'moderators' there a few hours ago.

Basically, I'm fed up here – NOT with the rules, per se – but with their unequal enforcement. [If I say old hands obeying rules, I would too.] The site surely has policies for dealing with unrepentant recidivists. PLEASE ensure my name is added to that list ASAP.

The site reminds me of Monty Python-style skits about Victorian-era boarding schools for upper-class boys … the head prefect can do whatever he pleases and nobody says a word. Meanwhile, the other prefects are running around looking for any transgressions by lower-form boys - however minor – for the pleasure of dishing out a damn-good thrashing to whatever unfortunate they catch.

I've been planning to mention it here but I thought - just in case - I will ask Lazeez for his consent. Maybe he has some relationship with them and would not want me bad-mouthing them here. I explained why and asked if I could open a thread titled StackExchange is Great, But It Totally SUCKS!. He advised me today he had no objection to that.

I expect I'll get booted off the site pretty soon. Every time I get told off for breaking some rule, I intend to say I will not do what they demand; I will continue following examples set by their elder statespersons instead! I think I will enjoy making as much of a nuisance of myself as possible while using only carefully crafted statements of fact. :-)

After being kicked I will probably go back with another identity and restrict my activities to asking questions - some of them there really know their stuff.

StackExchange has a number sites. The one that suits my needs is English Language & Usage (ELU).

I sincerely recommend it as a good place to ask questions. DO NOT bother attempting to answer questions from others; that be a Highway to Hell! Expect many questions to be

UPDATE

An answer my quotes above has come back while I've been writing this. It was from 'MetaEd' ... the head prefect I presume :-) It appears to be only a level-one good-damn thrashing. It ends with this lie!

This is not directed at anybody in particular. It is at the long trail of comments attached to this answer. - MetaEd

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

He said, "Not anywhere that I have been able to discover," about sites to learn about rules of grammar, quality formal writing, etc.


No, you completely misunderstood my point. It was not about not knowing of sites to learn about rules of grammar, but rather about the fact that those sites discuss what the rules are, the mechanics of how to implement those rules, but universally ignore the issue of why this rule in particular and no other

In my opinion, true understanding, sufficient to know intelligently when to break the rule, requires the understanding not just of what and how, but why.

StackExchange has a number sites. The one that suits my needs is English Language & Usage (ELU).


I looked at that site, I reviewed a few of the answers to questions tagged "grammar".

As I expected, the answers address what the rule is and how to apply it, when they address why at all, which isn't often, it's only addressed with platitudes so generic they apply to equally well to any random alternative rule.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

when they address why at all, which isn't often, it's only addressed with platitudes so generic ...

My experience is the vast majority of questions are from simpletons or non-native speakers, and yes, they get simple answers.

If you have a specific question and you work on preparing your question, you can get very good advice and detailed explanations from some of those there. If needs be, ask follow-up questions.

They ask that you describe the research you have done yourself and that you check your question has not already been answered. Convince them you are not wasting their time and they become obliging.

I intend on going back there when I have problems I cannot find suitable answers for.

Geek of Ages
Updated:

StackOverflow is amazing and I wouldn't be able to do my job without it. I've also had generally good luck with questions on the other half-dozen stacks I've asked questions on. The world building one in particular is outstanding. And I've had nothing but good, clarifying interactions on ELU.

@DS

The fact of the matter for most of not all rules in a given language is that they are arbitrary. Why this? Because that's how people have done it.

You might glean more information from historical linguistics, tracking the trends by which languages change over time and the reasons for those changes, but within any given language, good luck.

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

StackOverflow

Is that the same as StackExchange?
Do you know where to find a list of subsites?

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

StackOverflow was the original, created as a Q&A site for developers that would be better than anything else out there (and it was). After a while, Atwood and Spolsky realized the platform could be more versatile, so they did ServerFault and then SuperUser, and then opened it up as StackExchange.

You can find a more full list of stacks here: https://stackexchange.com/sites

To be fair, a quick check on Wikipedia or looking at the StackExchange site could have answered these questions faster than waiting for my anodyne reply.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

No, you completely misunderstood my point. It was not about not knowing of sites to learn about rules of grammar, but rather about the fact that those sites discuss what the rules are, the mechanics of how to implement those rules, but universally ignore the issue of why this rule in particular and no other

It helps to understand the nature of the site. StackExchange is a tool for non-English speakers to figure out which usages are acceptable to native-English speakers. Thus they tend to say "Nope, no native-English speaker would ever say that," without bothering to explain why. It's simply a stated fact, not a matter for a public vote by participants who may not be qualified to guess.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

The world building one in particular is outstanding.

Damn! I never even knew that one existed, despite having used the English-based StackExchange for years. It looks intriguing, but so far, the answers aren't terribly in-depth, merely scattershot answers with few participants. Still, it seems a reliable way of tackling otherwise difficult topics (though I'd tend to trust Quora more, simply because they get much high participation levels).

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

StackExchange is a tool for non-English speakers to figure out which usages are acceptable to native-English speakers.


You're thinking of the ELL Stack Exchange (that is, the English Language Learners). ELU is English Language & Usage, which is aimed more at native speakers.

Stack Exchange itself is a platform primarily designed for English-speaking users across all of its stacks, with a very small number of exceptions.

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

To be fair, a quick check on Wikipedia or looking at the StackExchange site could have answered these questions faster than waiting for my anodyne reply.

Sure. But with no intent to be facetious, I knew you would be kind enough to oblige me and I was certain of getting the right answer. I was in no hurry.

THANKS!

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

StackExchange is a tool for non-English speakers

There is a different tool suited to our needs.
I expect you've only found the ELL site for English Language Learners.
The one for us is ELU, English Language & Usage. If you write a good question about grammar that nobody here can understand - you will get a good answer to it there.

Ross at Play

AN OPEN INVITATION

It seems clear from the above that Geek of Ages and I unanimously agree ELU (not ELL) is THE PLACE to go for sound advice about writing formally. ALL of us here know that should never be more than a starting point for authors of fiction. Opinions on the value to us of that appear to vary widely.

A difficulty for those who want to use the site is the vast majority of questions posed are at best simplistic, frequently hopelessly ill-informed.

The site responds with things such as moderators voting questions are "Off Topic" for various reasons. Much chaff still gets through.

However, if you demonstrate some knowledge, some effort to help yourself, and care preparing a good question - then some genuine experts will find you - and they will consider time assisting you is not a waste of their time and intellect.

DS said he found explanations provided there inadequate. He was going to the wrong site. There's one site for learners and another for those who already have a knowledge of the basics.

TO ALL HERE, I am happy to fulfill the role of "conduit" to any here with good questions - but who'd rather not be bothered learning the ropes for navigating all of their controls. Please feel free to send me an SOL email with your question you want to ask -- if you want to you, I probably do too. It would be a pleasure for me to "escort" your question through their rigmarole until we both know the answer.

Note that I may tell you at times I need something extra from you; you may tell me you will take over now; whatever ...

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

Geek of Ages and I unanimously agree ELU (not ELL) is THE PLACE to go for sound advice about writing formally.


I do not agree with this statement; stop putting words in my mouth.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

.

Back to Top