10

Identifying languages with some specified language feature is a frequent activity, both for natural languages and conlangs. WALS and CALS are popular resources for seeing how common various options are. But they don't have every feature, nor every language.

The Linguistics site has a tag, list-of-languages. Tagged questions can ask about languages which meet a particular set of criteria, and are usually allowed to stay open, despite the usual Stack Exchange rule against list questions. (Only 6 out of 127 have been closed so far.) This seems to work quite well. They're not necessarily the best questions ever, but they meet a need that otherwise wouldn't be met, and they have so far avoided the problems which plagued other sites' list questions.

Do we want to allow similar questions here? And do we want all kinds of these list-of-languages questions, or only the ones asking about linguistic features (those are the only ones common or allowed on Linguistics.SE)?

Here are some we've received already:

  • 5
    @jknappen I removed the multiple polling-style answers you posted in favor of an open discussion. If you have thoughts on the issue yourself, please feel free to post it as an answer. But it is generally better to let everyone have a voice in meta to express their own opinions rather pre-posting all sides of the conversation yourself. It's not difficult to infer what the community wants from the conversation while allowing for the possibility that there's an issue we have not considered. Polling is generally not a good substitute for discussion. Thanks. – Robert Cartaino Feb 13 '18 at 14:35
  • Apparently that tag has since been removed. – Helmar Feb 20 '18 at 14:43
  • @helmar Yes Robert Cartaino removed it. If the community decides we do definitely want these questions then we can add the tag again. – curiousdannii Feb 20 '18 at 14:45
  • That makes the questions in question hard to identify though. If you can include the links that would be very much appreciated. – Helmar Feb 20 '18 at 14:50
4

I think that list-of-language questions are a useful contribution to this site. They are usually answerable, and the potential answers add value to the site.

They also may satisfy my curiousity and point me to Conlangs with interesting features that I have never encountered before.

I think the tag wiki should be similar to the on in [linguistics.se]; the lists should contain Conlangs matching well-defined and narrowed criteria given in the question.

  • I guess a follow up question would be whether we allow only questions that specify linguistic features, or any criteria such as your recent question on languages inspired by antique languages. – curiousdannii Mar 2 '18 at 2:09
4

I want to propose letting this issue rest unanswered until we are out of private and in public beta and public beta has been around for a bit.

At the moment, we want to seed our site with some good starting questions before it is opened to the general public. Whatever we decide to allow (or forbid) now will be taken as some sort of precedence rule further on. Of course, our policies can always be changed but some policy changes are harder than others.

I don’t think that there is a clear good or bad, right or wrong answer to the question a priori, we’ll have to see how they work out in practice. It could be that questions are few and far between and generally very interesting. It could be that they quickly dominate and become an obnoxious problem. And any other combination or anything in between. Even if we set precedence now with a nice list question that we can all agree on, that may (or may not) open the floodgates of terrible ones within months.

I have been on Anime & Manga and witnessed how the single most popular question type——went from disliked but allowed to banhammered. The process was tedious because of how immensely popular these questions were. But it had to be done because only an infinitesimally small number of users actually bothered to read the guidelines and it was all just a way for people to gain badges in the close vote review queue. I suspect that there was very early precedence that just unfolded in a very bad way. In the end, the mods went through and deleted all questions except for a few exemplary one worth retaining which were fitted with a historical lock. Even with these few remaining, the blacklisted tag remained the highest-used.

Because of the work that all of this was, it is best if we put off the final decision until we see what it is actually going to turn into when the site goes live and attracts traffic through Google.

  • 2
    Okay, but what do we do with the ones we get in the meantime? Leave open or close? – curiousdannii Feb 19 '18 at 0:36
  • @curious - neither; let the voting play out without turning to Meta. The best way to see what the site actually wants is observing what they do, not what meta says, although there are exceptions. – Mithical Apr 7 '18 at 21:59
  • @Mithrandir This is an exception, because we're proposing to go against the general SE rule of no list questions. And for waiting to see what the site wants, we've done that really - 8/9 are open. It's been enough time that we can formalise the community's decision. – curiousdannii Apr 7 '18 at 22:30
-1

I think we have them regularly enough (see also, which prompted me to come and ask the same question) in regard with the size of the site. More importantly, they hard to answer because there's just not enough variety of languages with a lot of material available to answer them! Most people know the big commercial conlangs, maybe a few other conlanger's work (e.g. Zompist's work)... and that's it.

Outside of Zompist and the conlangs in published fictional materials (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones...), most people can't really talk about more than 2 or three conlangs, and the material for those are probably not online, and the result is little variety in answer to those questions (besides they're usually amounting "I want to know because I wanna for something unique", which is not a good reasoning in conlanging IMO).

TLDR answer:

  1. People usually don't ask these questions (or formulations of questions) to improve their conlanging or share knowledge. They mostly ask it out of a misplaced desire for originality.
  2. There's not enough possible variance in answers (there's maybe some 20 possible conlangs people can base their answers on) for these questions to be useful.
  • 2
    Sorry, but I'm having a hard time parsing what you're saying here. Do you think we should allow them or not? – curiousdannii Mar 1 '18 at 13:35

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