Prompted by this recent question: What languages use numbers to name the week days and months?

List questions are generally not allowed on SE sites. I'm not sure what the policy is for Linguistics.SE. I found this old Meta question, but it has conflicting answers: the top answer says they're okay, but the second answer from a mod says they aren't.

What is the current consensus?

  • I don't like such lists either, but the precedent has been set... so many times. Many of those responding have high reps here. So, I figure that's part of what this site is about. I just ignore such questions.
    – prash Mod
    Sep 2, 2014 at 14:46
  • @prash they probably pull up the average answer rate, which is something the site will need to graduate :P. Still, I think it's probably unhealthy if the mods think a type of question is bad but then ignore it...
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 4, 2014 at 8:04
  • Mods are just part of the community. Users with high reps drive it in a big way.
    – prash Mod
    Sep 4, 2014 at 10:32
  • @curiousdannii The community moderates. The mods are here only to enforce some basic rules intrinsic to the SE model. However any other rule is decided by the community, so if the majority of the site wants to change a certain rule, it's done.
    – Alenanno
    Sep 5, 2014 at 10:04
  • I do know that, but it's still an unfortunately situation if the mods feel out of step with the rest of the community.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 9, 2014 at 6:11

3 Answers 3


As you can see from my answer there, it depends. If you ask something that might generate a (very) long list, or even potentially infinite, then it's a bad question. That's because the SE model is geared towards more definite answers.

However not all list questions are bad, some have very definite answers even if technically it's a list question. For example, if you ask "how many languages possess this unusual phenomenon?", it would generate a very small set of answers, because the trait you asked about is unusual or rare.

Certainly if you asked, "how many languages have vowel sounds", then that would be a very bad list question.

If you're unsure about a question you want to ask, you can post on Meta asking for support. I'm sure other users will help you determine if your question is a good fit or not, and maybe even help you with the wording if necessary (which makes a world of difference).

  • What to do then when the OP doesn't know how common or rare a trait is, such as in the question which prompted this? Would it be appropriate to close it once it is shown to be common?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Sep 4, 2014 at 8:05
  • @curiousdannii I suppose so, yes. You might also suggest the OP ways to keep the core question but change its wording so that maybe it solves the issue. Sometimes this is possible, other times not.
    – Alenanno
    Sep 4, 2014 at 11:27

I have created the tag . I propose we tag all such questions with this tag. This will serve two purposes:

  1. Add it to your "ignored tags" list, to hide such questions from your view.
  2. If a future set of mods deem these questions unsuitable for Ling.SE, this tag will make it easy for them to cull all questions.

Lists of languages might also be of more interest to non-askers than most specific questions I've seen on this site. And you can always make a community wiki answer, so that only one answer containing a list survives.

Edit: By "of interest" I mean not only satisfying their curiosity but also of practical use to them.

  • I think being useful and informative are more important considerations.
    – user6726
    Mar 10, 2015 at 22:39
  • Edited to clarify. I did think about the anwers being useful and informative.
    – user9315
    Mar 10, 2015 at 23:51

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