It has already been asked at the current Lojban proposal, but not at the Esperanto and Constructed Languages proposals, why it would make more sense to have a SE site dedicated to this single constructed (fictional) language rather than one for many using tags as with programming languages on Stack Overflow.

I’d like to ask more generally (but not as general as done here): Is it a good idea to introduce some more broadly scoped sites first (e.g. for constructed, Scandinavian or Slavic ones), but not just a single one, and possibly later introduce spin-offs if particular languages prove overly popular?


Take German SE, it’s still in beta because there are too few questions per day, although there are 100 million native speakers of German and millions of learners/learned. It’s at least in the top 20, more likely top 10, of languages written on the Internet. How can any “smaller” language expect to fuel a SE site successfully and sustainably? (Also not e that lots of questions get closed at German SE because they’re simple proofreading or translation requests.) The Russian and Spanish beta sites seem to be in similar situations despite even more potential users. I haven’t checked others.


For natural languages, it would seem intuitive to group related languages, e.g. all Germanic ones except English (i.e. German beta + Dutch active proposal + Scandinavian failed proposal + Yiddish + extinct languages), and we already have a unified proposal for constructed languages.

One drawback of multi-language sites is that not all members (notably administrators) can be expected to know more than one of the languages (and English).

Hmm, I assume you had edited the "Scandinavian" link to point to Norwegian whereas before there was actually a proposal called Scandinavian (which I can't find anywhere, probably to be expected). I am curious to hear how far that went before it failed. I'm certainly open to helping re-start one if you think it can have potential. – stonesparkles Apr 26 '16 at 17:02
I suppose it'd simply be too broad to create a Germanics SX -- or by simply creating various SXs for different language families? I too would love to eventually see a SX that encompasses the Northern Germanics (essentially what the "Scandinavian" proposal would cover). – waxwing Apr 28 '16 at 12:08
I notice only now that this question includes "extinct languages". But please please don't include extinct languages with my language. The situation with my language may be bad, but does it really need to be thrown in with dead languages to be the subject of a viable SE site? That would make me feel really awful about my language (no matter which one it is). – Dhr Lijster Jul 20 '16 at 18:41
@stonesparkles it was proposal created by me in '15 and half a year ago it was deleted by SE since not passed a year milestone: there was not enough voted questions. At the time of deletion we managed to gather around 70 followers which was quite enough but failed due to low activity with creating and voting for questions. – pmod Sep 12 '16 at 7:36
up vote 18 down vote accepted

The thing is that Stack Exchange sites are generally defined by an audience and what they approve of/want to here. A good read would be the blog post on the Ubuntu/Linux ‘schism’ or the many answers Robert wrote addressing this problem.

When it comes to programming, if you know one language you often have an easy entry into another. You can read a question about a language you don’t formally know but possibly gain intuition about what the answer is about. If you’re doing chemistry, you probably had your basic inorganic, organic and physical chemistry courses and remember a few key concepts from all of those even if your current research subject happens to be chemical biology. And if you enjoy playing console games, you will probably also be interested in good PC games. However, when it comes to languages there is often a clear-cut distinction between groups with deep ditches between them. And I am not talking about the more generic groups like Germanic, Romance or Polynesian languages; I am referring to a per-language level. This could have cultural reasons, historical ones or be due to two languages being far apart from each other. Examples? Got them:

  • Neighbouring countries could have had a hard time in gaining independence, and having one’s own language was typically a big selling point for independent countries. Earlier on, there was a language called Serbocroation, but nowadays one speaks of Croatian and Serbian.

  • People speaking their dialects on both sides of the German–Netherlands border would typically understand each other well. But when speaking formally, they would use different pronunciations, different grammatical constructs and different words for the same sentence resulting in the two distinct languages German and Dutch.

  • German and Danish, albeit the respective countries bordering one another and both sides having significant minorities of the other language close to the border, are not mutually intellegible at any level.

Sometimes, even smaller, more local important issues are raised. Swiss are generally unhappy to be lumped together with Germans (although they will acknowledge that the language is pretty much the same), possibly because Germany is Switzerland’s large, economically (and in the past: militarily) dominant neighbouring country that is considered more important globally.

Sometimes, lumping two or a set of languages together may be beneficial from an audience’s point of view. This could be the case if the languages are sufficiently similar, there is no dominant one with respect to size and there are no strong hostilities held by either side. (Talking really strong ones, not the kind of Austrians-don’t-like-Piefkes or Bavarians-don’t-like-Austrians type of hostility.) All three of these are somewhat important although I think it will be more likely to fail if the first two points are imbalanced. So:

  • Lumping any Germanic language together with German, any Slavic language with Russian or any other Romance language with Spanish is probably doomed to fail because there is one overly dominating language with (SE point of view) a much larger question and user base meaning more rep and everything. Smaller languages will likely feel dominated.

  • Lumping all Germanic languages together is doomed to fail because while the Scandinavian ones are more or less intellegible between each other, and even German/Dutch somewhat fulfil this criterion, it cannot be said for the boundary between the two groups.

  • Scandinavian languages would have had the possibility to work because there are three larger and two smaller (but not too much smaller) languages which are all rather close to each other. And there is no longer any large, significant rift between any of these countries.

So to answer the actual underlying question:

  • Often, languages are too far away from each other to be lumped sensibly
  • Large languages will dominate over small ones too much
  • Users may feel more connected, since they feel more ‘at home’.

(And finally: Japanese graduated. So the potential is there.)

What did Japanese do well that the other sites didn't? – Leo King Jul 6 '16 at 0:09
@LeoKing Get ten questions a day. – Jan Jul 6 '16 at 1:08

Esperanto is different from almost all other constructed languages in the one respect that the Esperanto community is mainly interested in using their language.

You may want to talk a lot about other conlangs, but you want to talk in Esperanto.

Communities of other conlangs also often have the strong need to delineate their conlangs from Esperanto (with all kind of advocacy arguments occurring).

That may be so, but the solution could be – instead of Esperanto SE – to introduce separate sites ConLangs (& Usage) SE and ConLang Learners SE, as has been done with English. – Crissov Feb 26 '16 at 12:53
This only answers a very tangential point (constructed vs. Esperanto) and not the general big underlying question … – Jan Mar 2 '16 at 23:51
I'm not sure what you're talking about! I want to translate everything into Lojban, and then use it exclusively. Might take a while to convince my co-workers... – jpaugh Mar 20 '16 at 16:59
It doesn't make sense mix esperanto with lojban in this context. If you talk about conlang from an abstract point of view ok, but questions about esperanto are often of different nature – user84976 Jul 11 '16 at 9:00

From a linguistic perspective, it would definitely make a lot of sense to group smaller languages into a single Q&A site based on their linguistic proximity.

None of the problems mentioned by @Jan pose any real issue when you move the heavy accent from culture, society, politics etc. over to purely linguistic aspects. That's why lumping language-related questions together with some other non-related areas is never a good idea. Yes, culture and history can have a great influence on a language, but if we restrict the boundaries to questions that ask about the workings of the language itself, we wouldn't have to deal with the idiocies of possible provocative questions about cultural differences, religion and what not.

Language-related Q&A sites attract beginner language learners, native speakers and all sorts of language enthusiasts as well as language scientists. They don't usually create a culturally hostile environment because everyone has similar goals, that is, language learning, polishing and perfection.

Of course, we still need to find competent moderators capable of reading different languages but considering the numbers of multilinguals nowadays it shouldn't be too difficult.

So in my opinion, multiple language sites have a lot more advantages over single language ones, for one thing, they draw a bigger audience interested in languages so more questions get asked and more questions get answered. And I don't think people that are truly fond of a certain smaller language would be offended by its 'substratum' status. If they are, they should seek help on some other sites, because language Q&A sites are not a place to express your opinions about language popularity, or its history, or people speaking the language.

For example, I like learning Danish and I absolutely don't care what other people think about how popular or useful Danish actually is. Neither is it relevant to any of my questions I have about the Danish language. And if I get to see more questions concerning the German or Swedish language, I don't mind their 'dominance' on a site related to the Germanic languages, either.


i am not sure putting all constructed languages into one site is a good idea since most constructed languages are academic exercises. esperanto stands out as a language that is actively and practically used.

it makes more sense to put esperanto together with other smaller languages where every language is simply a tag. i would not even group them, but include every language that is to small to have its own site.


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