Re: What are good sources for streaming Japanese language television?

I originally assumed that the site was centered on the Japanese Language and would include resources for learning the language as well as specific questions about the language, but a few people voted to close the referenced question.

Does the scope of the site include resource for learning the language?

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    It has been roughly 5 months since I wrote this post and it seems that questions regarding learning resources have been voted off of the site; as such, this site hasn't been very useful to me and my frequency of visits has tapered off. Perhaps this site will be more useful as my knowledge increases. – jessecurry Nov 10 '11 at 18:38
  • Indeed, a more recent poll of active meta users indicated a lack of strong support for allowing resource questions. With that said, we've collected a "master list" of resources some of us have found useful and placed it here on meta: meta.japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/756/… – jkerian May 4 '12 at 18:49
  • On another note, for some time now we've asked people to ask their resource and translation questions in chat. To my knowledge, we've never failed to answer such a question. – jkerian May 4 '12 at 19:25

Depending upon how the open beta goes, most of the people that come to this site will likely be students of various skill levels, as such, I am all for allowing well formed questions about learning resources. That said though, I would consider a question about dictionaries, techniques (since Japanese requires you to learn three different writing systems, is a bit different than Latin languages), and classes to be on topic while general questions about more entertainment based topics to be off-topic.

We should be careful though, if we are extremely narrow about what is on and off topic we could quickly exclude most student questions and I would argue that this is inherently a "student oriented" site in that the primary language is not Japanese.

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    I don't think we're being particularly narrow. We're just focusing the questions on the Japanese language itself rather than methods for learning it. There are millions of questions you could ask about usage, nuance, idioms and phraseology that you simply can't find elsewhere on the internet. The language in itself is a huge subject. – Ali May 31 '11 at 19:57
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    @Ali - Indeed, but do we want to be like the English Language and Usage site (i.e. native speaker or scholar oriented) or do we want to be more like the Programmers site (i.e. students through experts oriented)? Both groups are going to have different needs and being a scholarly site is going to limit the audience. Most students are not going to be asking nuanced questions about the use of ヂ or a rare kanji. – anonymous May 31 '11 at 20:10
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    @Rob I think that the fact that the site is in English makes it entirely clear that it's for learners of the Japanese language. If you wanted an actual scholarly discussion of Japanese 国語 then we limit our audience to a tiny number of crusty old English-native professors in Japanese universities :P – Ali May 31 '11 at 20:36
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    With that said... "programmers.se" seems to be the hangout for all the people who can't handle actually asking and answering questions, and desperately want another phpBB forum using the SX software. So... no... we're not aiming for EL&U, or mathoverflow, or even Programmers... how about something vaguely like stackoverflow? – jkerian Jun 1 '11 at 5:13
  • @jkerian - I strongly disagree with that assessment since there is a lot more to being a software engineer than language and API questions that you get over on Stackoverflow. Also, EL&U is basicly Stackoverflow for the English language so I don't see how J.SE could be like Stackoverflow but not like EL&U. – anonymous Jun 1 '11 at 11:22
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    @RobZ: There is more to being a software engineer than fits on SO... likewise there is more to studying japanese than will fit on japanese.SE. We're not trying to be the only resource for all-things-japanese, just the best online Q&A for japanese language questions. A great deal of that "best online Q&A" comes from rejecting questions whose answers will not be useful. – jkerian Jun 1 '11 at 15:42
  • Couldn't have said it better jkerian, I find you're articulating a lot of the arguments I'm trying to convey better than I am. – Ali Jun 2 '11 at 12:51
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    As a student of Japanese myself (one who can speak a little, write a little, but not read much and can't converse well yet), I am curious what the actual answer to this question is. It seems clear that J.SE does not want to be too narrow...however, a definition about what too narrow/too broad is, and where the line is actually drawn regarding "learning" questions, does not appear to have actually been clearly defined. I understand that there are far better resources to discuss and learn Japanese...but when is a learning-related question unacceptable here? – jrista Jun 16 '11 at 5:41

The more fundamental problem with resource questions is that most of the ones asked so far are not answerable.

If someone asks "Is there a furigana japanese-english dictionary with example sentences and tonal annotations?" We can answer that with "Yes, here's one... [amazon.co.jp link to gg]". Later on, that answer will come up on a search for "dictionary furigana tones" (hopefully). I believe that this specifically (and verifiably) answerable question would be a useful part of the site.

"Collective knowledge" questions like "What is the best ja-en dictionary?" are useless. They clutter up the site with popularity contests. Very few of the questions are even going to include their criterion for "best".

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    This. It would be very very very hard to convince myself to click the close button on an off-topic question like 'How do Japanese school children learn Kanji?', or any other off-topic questions that actually has an answer. – Ali Jun 1 '11 at 12:32

If you take a look through the the discussions we had about on/off topic questions when we were kicking the site around Area 51, we ended up deciding that the site should have expert questions about the language itself rather than language learning resources.

The problems with questions like 'What is the best resource for X':

  • Freshness: a lot of online resources will break and go out of date
  • Subjectivity: Your best resource may not be my best resource

So I'm pretty secure in my belief that keeping the site about Japanese is the way to go. I'd be willing to hear well-formed arguments from people who think otherwise though.

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    I think that part of the success of StackOverflow hinges on the discussion around learning practices/resources. Since the site is not static as resources are no longer relevant they could be removed/down-voted. – jessecurry May 31 '11 at 19:20
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    It seems that a site about a spoken language will have a hard time helping people to learn the language unless it points to some audio/video content. If the site is not for those learning the language, but for those that know the language and watch to discuss specifics then I wouldn't see this as being a problem. – jessecurry May 31 '11 at 19:21
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    How do you feel about putting the questions that aren't focused on the language itself in community wiki? That works for me. – Ali May 31 '11 at 19:22
  • Also take a look through here for the definition stage of the site, I think I argued in favour of resources before I was convinced otherwise: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/7526?phase=definition – Ali May 31 '11 at 19:24
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    I'm 100% fine with resources being CW, but it looks like I cannot make my own posts CW right now. I don't care about rep, but think that the resources are the most valuable component for me right now (I barely know any Japanese). – jessecurry May 31 '11 at 19:25
  • @Ali only moderator can make a question CW, I believe... – Grigory M May 31 '11 at 19:25
  • Who are the moderators? Sorry, I'm not exactly a stack exchange power user. Am I a moderator since I made the proposal? – Ali May 31 '11 at 19:27
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    looks like there are some rules that could make the question automatically a CW post (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11740/…) I'm assuming that the rules are the same. – jessecurry May 31 '11 at 19:35
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    @Ali: Moderators are users with “more power”. In a closed beta they are made of developers of StackExchange. We currently have 3 (which is a lot for a closed beta), you can spot them by the ♦ next to their name. – poke May 31 '11 at 19:35
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    Which specific Area 51 discussions are you suggesting that we should look through? I don't see any consensus at all in any of the discussions about on or off topic being correct. The only off-topic example related to resources was "I've heard a lot about Rosetta stone, is it worth using?", which is bad for other reasons such as being highly-subjective. – Chad Birch May 31 '11 at 19:44
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    Personally, I think resource questions are on-topic, if this site is really meant for learners of the language (which it obviously is, since it's in English). Finding good resources to help you with your learning is one of the most common and important needs. It's similar to having questions on StackOverflow about "What are good online resources for Python?", "What's the best IDE for Ruby?", etc. – Chad Birch May 31 '11 at 19:44
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    @Chad, correct stack overflow have questions like this but you'll find the majority of them that don't have a clear, definitive answer will be community wiki'd. – Ali May 31 '11 at 19:50
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    Oh, sorry, I had left this open for a little while and hadn't seen the new comments about making them community wiki. Yes, they definitely should be, though there doesn't seem to be any way to make a question community wiki any more? – Chad Birch May 31 '11 at 19:55
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    There are lots of resources already for every topic that's been made into a StackExchange site. The goal of the platform is to consolidate things and do it better, not to only cover topics that nowhere else does. – Chad Birch May 31 '11 at 19:57
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    OK well if you're good with making those questions that aren't specifically about the language community wiki then we're cool like a bunch of fonzies up in here. – Ali May 31 '11 at 20:04

Foremost, let me come clean: my company develops Japanese language vocabulary study iOS software. I have every personal reason to gain from such a popularity contest.

That out in the open, I agree with jkerian's point that such questions aren't good for the community.

In my own experience, I made software because I wasn't happy with the other options - they all had something wrong with them (by my criteria). Interestingly, when I went around to various forums and websites to introduce/promote my product, I was met with (in many cases), "We're not interested, we use X for that" (X = usually one of the products I had felt wasn't up to the job). People -- particularly online -- seem to become very defensive of whatever they personally used as a tool, and without good objective criteria, it is very hard to address that.

Language learning is a constantly evolving science (nay, art?). By allowing such questions, you'll end up with a few "super questions" that receive many votes, becoming highly SEO'ed, and draw a lot of traffic. And the "winners" of that post -- even 2 years from now -- will continue to receive business, even if their product isn't indeed the best.

In short, the answer to something like "why can't men say わ at the end of a sentence" is pretty much timeless, whereas a better dictionary or piece of software may come out in a year -- so unless those questions come with a time expiry (not build into the stack exchange sites as I understand), it's not a good idea for innovation.

  • Yep. I am one of your competitors. I would benefit ENORMOUSLY from being able to spam this site about the tools I'm developing, but this is not the place. – Ali Jun 1 '11 at 7:02
  • Ali, sure. Out of curiosity, what do you work on? – makdad Jun 4 '11 at 6:12
  • An online SRS focused on teaching you to read Japanese. – Ali Jun 4 '11 at 9:41
  • P.S. your apps screenshot links are broken e.g. www2.japaneseflash.com/files/2010/05/screenshot-4-progress.png ,removing '2' from the subdomain seemed to be OK though. – Ali Jun 4 '11 at 10:00
  • just curious.. what's the name of that app? – Pacerier Jun 28 '11 at 18:27

It was kind of hinted in the comments throughout this question, but I think we should start looking at some kind of community wiki question on the main site that showcases a bunch of language references. I've seen several dictionary questions so far this week, and it'd be nice to have a consolidated list that they can all just point to.

I know arguably those questions are off-topic for the site, but considering a large number of the people asking questions are trying to learn the language, it seems like it would benefit them if there was some group of resources we can point them towards. Especially since the number of questions asking about dictionaries/other material will only keep growing once the site goes public.

Making them community wiki should also remove any concerns about reputation, since I believe you don't earn reputation from a wiki question.

  • i support in creating one (just one) CW for pointing to useful learning resources – Pacerier Jun 28 '11 at 18:28

Excuse me for bumping the old meta discussion, but I think that this is a problem which has to be addressed.

As jkerian observed, there were many bad questions asking for external resource, but the reason they were bad is not because they asked for external resource but because they asked for tastes without specifying clear criteria for good answers.

In my opinion, whether a question asks for external resource or not is simply irrelevant to whether it is on topic or off topic. “What is a good website to learn Japanese speech?” would be a bad question on Stack Exchange because it is unclear what the asker means by “good,” exactly for the same reason why “What is a good way to learn kanji characters?” or “What is a good way to introduce oneself in Japanese?” would be bad. Questions have to be specific instead of just saying “good.” As long as criteria are clear, questions about the Japanese language should be fine, whether they ask for external resource or not.

(Probably I am supposed to post a comment like this as a response to a more recent “Scope amendment: Should questions about Resources be allowed on JLU?” but it requires us to read all the linked questions before voting, which I am not happy to do.)

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    The problem we're facing is that we have a number of resource questions we want to allow (or at least a number of us want to allow), but we're having a hard time describing a clear policy that will separate them from questions we really don't want. – jkerian Aug 13 '12 at 16:07
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    @jkerian: I do not think that the problem you described is a real issue. As I understand it, we do not have a clear policy that separates questions we want from questions we do not want in general. If we drop the policy to close questions asking for resource, they will be treated on a case-by-case basis without a clear policy, just like other questions. Although this might be an issue which should be addressed in the future, I do not think that questions asking for resource should be treated differently from other questions. – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 13 '12 at 16:17
  • Some of this has been hashed over on the SE blog shopping question post. – jkerian Aug 22 '12 at 17:03

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