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Is it normal here to go this long without anybody being interested enough to ask a question? I get a lot more opportunities to answer questions on English.SE than I do here.

(I suppose I'll tag this as "discussion" because it's just an information question about past experience.)

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I don't think it's normal... I've tried to think of some solutions but apart from "advertising" to other people to come here, like students, I don't know what else we could do.

If you have any suggestion, you're free to say it, obviously. And actually I'd like you to... :D

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Other than the low count of members and visitors, it is also worth noting that this isn't like SO, english.SE, or other popular SE's where everyday people have a lot of quick practical problem that's easy to solve using SE's Q&A format.

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I can envision two different strategies for solving this problem:

  1. As @hippietrail suggested, to broaden the scope of this site, possibly merging it with other sites. This has the clear advantage that users with no particular knowledge on Linguistics could contribute, thus increasing the number of questions and answers.

  2. Make an effort to improve the level of questions. So far, we have accepted all levels of questions, from basic principles on Linguistics to more advanced topics. This is fine, really. I am not a linguist myself and most of my questions are at the basic level. But it seems that the number of hard questions (of the kind that only expert linguists would be able to answer) should increase. We could attract a more advanced audience with this strategy. By the way, this was the content of a challenge, also proposed by @hippietrail.

I'm strongly in favor of option 2.

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  • But the problem is not that there are too many basic questions. The problem is that there aren't many questions at all. I don't mind if the two categories are being asked, as long as they are being asked. :P – Alenanno Dec 8 '11 at 12:19
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    But it could be that of the few questions we even have, people that know linguistics might pop in and see that of the small number a large portion are too basic to get them intersted in the site and stick around. Maybe we should come up with a way to get some feedback from visitors though because all we can do is guess - and this is a guess from me. – hippietrail Dec 8 '11 at 14:30
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My suggestion is to broaden the scope to all language questions including learning languages, not just linguistics. It's a bit fuzzy now anyway - a lot more low hanging fruit than I expected when I signed up, though it's been nice to see more expert answers appearing on old questions recently.

Why not consider merging with the Languages proposal and taking all language and linguistics questions other than translations you could look up in a dictionary?

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    Sorry but I disagree with that. This site is about Linguistics and should remain on that, in my opinion. Broadening the scope to "learning languages" and maybe "translations" means completely modifying this site and taking it out of its original place. – Alenanno Dec 5 '11 at 17:21
  • Well I did specifically say other than translations but apart from that, may the force be with you! Oh and luck too. – hippietrail Dec 5 '11 at 19:04
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    I wasn't sure on the translation thing, that's why I wrote "maybe", anyway you're right, you didn't include it. But apart from that, I don't understand why you are being sarcastic... I hope my comment didn't sound too harsh. – Alenanno Dec 5 '11 at 19:14
  • @hippietrail: link to the podcast? – Mitch Dec 5 '11 at 21:39
  • Well I want the site to succeed but I don't know what else somebody will come up with. If you listened to the previous podcast by Jeff and Joel where they were joking about what failures all of the language sites are (from about 4.30 minutes) ... but they're all doing much better than the linguistics site )-: – hippietrail Dec 6 '11 at 8:50
  • One possibility for broadening the scope of the site could be to rename it as 'Linguistics and Applied Linguistics'. While the two fields can be quite different beasts, there is still a certain amount of overlapping material between them, at least in terms of the theoretical background. That way, we could still curtail questions that are too specific with regards to learning/querying features of certain languages, but incorporate questions that relate more generally to language acquisition, code-switching, language and identity, and so on. – Floating Tone Dec 20 '11 at 9:51
  • I should add that it wouldn't be my preference - I would much prefer linguistics to have a corner all to itself - but the extra traffic that might be generated by appealing to applied linguists (who seem to be part of a much bigger field) may be worth it. Or maybe it would just put off all the linguists... – Floating Tone Dec 20 '11 at 9:52

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