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Update 11/25: Thanks for your feedback! We're going to go ahead and drop "& Usage" from the site title. The header image and the "official" language around the site (in the help center and about page, for example) should be updated within the next few days.


I'm Laura, a product manager at Stack Exchange.

I wanted to let this community know that I've started a discussion over on Meta Stack Overflow about some general guidelines for naming our sites, specifically our language sites, going forward. Feel free to read and discuss my post over there.

The gist of my proposal is that "& Usage" generally makes a site name longer and more difficult to say and type without adding much, if any, meaning.

We'd like to rename existing Stack Exchange language sites to just "X Language" and drop "& Usage" from both existing sites and any new language sites we launch in the future.

This means the header image on the site would simply read "Japanese Language" rather than "Japanese Language & Usage", and all of the official documentation would drop "& Usage" as well. The site URL would not change.

We've already done this with our Italian Language site (in private beta at the time of this writing), and they were pleased with the simpler name. Until now, our language sites have followed the naming convention of "X Language & Usage Stack Exchange", but why? It seemed to make sense at the time, but as we've grown, it's become clear that "& Usage" isn't really necessary. A site about a particular language is, by definition, concerned with the usage of that language — that's where all the questions come from!

Before we actually make any changes to existing sites, I wanted to hear any concerns you might have. I feel like a shorter, simpler name is a big win for everyone, but please feel free to post concerns about this particular community here, or any general concerns over on the main MSO thread.

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    I agree that "Usage" is superfluous, but to be honest, I never thought of this page as "Japanese Language & Usage Stack Exchange", at the most as "Japanese Language & Usage". – Earthliŋ Nov 14 '13 at 21:19
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    Heh... I guess I'll have to get used to typing "JL" instead of "JLU"... maybe "JLSE"... hmm... – jkerian Nov 15 '13 at 0:51
  • I think it's a good idea. It's unfortunate that the JLU acronym gets deprecated as a result, but, well, I'll live. – Darius Jahandarie Nov 15 '13 at 2:37
  • We can just call it JaLa ;) – ssb Nov 15 '13 at 5:20
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    Seriously, what will we call the site for short? Just "Japanese"? I can't welcome people to Japanese Language--that sounds like I'm welcoming them to a language :-) I like typing "Welcome to JLU!" – snailboat Nov 17 '13 at 16:46
  • @snailboat You could call it JLSE, as jkerian suggested. Technically, each site's full name (with the exception of sites with "boutique" names like Stack Overflow, Server Fault, etc.) includes a "Stack Exchange" at the end of it. :) – Laura Nov 18 '13 at 15:16
  • To everyone who's concerned about the abbreviation, how about just JSE? I don't think the L is necessary. – Ataraxia Nov 25 '13 at 0:23
  • The "& Usage" seems to be gone now! Except here, which is an image that appears in the upper left of some pages on chat. – snailboat Dec 3 '13 at 10:24
  • @snailboat Good catch; it'll disappear shortly. – Laura Dec 3 '13 at 16:42
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Although I like the "& Usage" personally, I don't think it serves any real purpose other than to sound nice and to give us a nice-sounding acronym. In fact, one of our more prominent users once started a meta discussion calling the current name illogical (though it should be noted that not everyone agreed).

I think that if the other sites are changing, JLU should change too. If only some site names contain "& Usage", it sounds like that part of the name is semantically significant--but of course it isn't! Users might think something like this:

"That other site is about a language, but this site is about a language and its usage!"

This is nonsense, of course. Consider the hypothetical site "Japanese Language, but not Japanese Usage". What would this even mean?

It's worth noting that the proposed inconsistency would affect ELU, too. I can understand why you deliberately introduce that inconsistency (among other reasons, the ampersand is the centerpiece of the ELU design!), but it's still less than ideal in my opinion.

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I think the & Usage can go, but I inexplicably feel like just leaving it as Japanese Language will somehow blow the lid off of our acceptable topics; as in, I feel like somehow it will invite many more off-topic questions by new users that we'll have to end up closing. In particular, I just foresee many more translation requests coming in. For example, a new user finds the site through Google, and thinks, "Instead of relying on machine translation, I'll get actual live people to help me translate this (sentence)." Then, without reading the help page, just blindly posts a topic for whatever they need.

I don't have any real basis of why I think this - like why this isn't happening now - other than the name Japanese Language feels more inviting to these kind of topics. It seems like the current & Usage is enough of a quantifier (even subconsciously) to impose the current limitations.

Anyway, maybe I'm speculating or looking too much into it. As long as we keep the on-/off-topic lists well-defined, it should be sufficient.

  • I appreciate you sharing your concerns. Right now, I don't think it will be a problem - as you said, it's just a feeling you have. (My feeling happens to be that it'll work out just fine!) It's looking like we'll move ahead with dropping "& Usage", so do feel free to keep an eye out for any new or bigger problems that you feel might be related to the name change. If it winds up causing new problems, we'll find a way to fix it. – Laura Nov 18 '13 at 15:18
  • I don't know if you read the MSO post, but animuson's answer talks about some reasons to not use the title to define scope. – Troyen Nov 20 '13 at 9:30

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