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I've been pretty clear about my attitude towards the Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese page for a while now.

  • It's obsolete. (It had many broken links, but I just edited.)
  • It's full of non-broken, but useless resources (e.g. "some guy made an app 5 years ago")---too much noise.
  • Virtually nobody actually maintains it (probably because of the above two points).
  • It's wordy. We don't need an introduction to each resource. And many of the snippets read like advertisements (using words like "great", etc.).
  • There are sections like "books" which could contain any single book written in Chinese, and "news" which could contain any single news source in Chinese.
  • It's not limited to Mandarin, despite the title. (There's also the issue with having such a post only for Mandarin, when we should be impartial.)
  • The categories themselves are poor, e.g. "Websites" includes virtually every resource.

So...

Question: What's the future for the "Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese" page?

Some brainstorming of possible options:

  1. We edit heavily, removing the multitude of useless links. (I think this is unlikely to actually happen; users seem hesitant to delete non-broken, yet useless links.)

  2. Create a new resources page---a fresh start on the same approach; and add a historical lock on the old one. (But maybe the new page would quickly become obsolete too.)

  3. Require "endorsement"; e.g. ask users on meta which resources from the resources page they actually use; delete the rest.

  4. We could replace it with a locked version which is only editable by diamond moderators. If edits are required they can be brought up on meta (requires upvotes to add). (Adding this obstacle inhibits people from adding adverts and useless resources.) I could possibly edit my answer to What resources do you actively use to study Chinese, and why? to look like this.

  5. We could instead maintain a list of maintained lists of resources, such as:

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  • IMO, the question we should urgently ask first is whether requests for resources are on-topic or not. At least for me, the current status quo is rather unclear. 1, 2, 3 – blackgreen Aug 18 '20 at 8:14
  • Indeed. It is a bit weird that they're on topic at many other language sites and all three diamonds being involved with such questions to some extent. Want to bring it up? The answers affect each other. – Becky 李蓓 Aug 18 '20 at 8:19
  • Also former diamonds here, here, here, and here – Becky 李蓓 Aug 18 '20 at 8:22
  • For the most useful resource sites, we should maintain a link page and direct users to look there first before asking questions (let's start a new one). Most of the learning resources can be found by Googling, I really don't understand why people need to ask us – Tang Ho Aug 18 '20 at 12:08
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    I tend to find that the biggest reason I would ask a resource question or google "good X textbook" is not so much because I can't find resources online, but because I typically find way too many and don't know which resources/books are worth my time/money. As such, my preference would be a curated list that reflects what the community views as worth-while resources (so perhaps something incorporating suggestion 3 and 4 above). Such a list would not only direct people to higher-quality resources, but also help teach them what a higher quality resources would look like. – 2ndQuantized Aug 26 '20 at 3:16
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    A second reason I think a resource list would be useful is that sometimes I don't even know what kinds of resources may even exist. For example, as a beginning learner, I may know of textbooks and YouTube videos, but would never think of looking for podcasts, graded readers, or community translation websites until I happen to see them in a list or mentioned by a teacher or YouTube video. So, a resource list can also help people understand what kinds of resources are even available. This could also be answered as a separate question from a resource list too. – 2ndQuantized Aug 26 '20 at 3:23
  • I also agree we should modify the current Resources page. In my opinion, having good resources are very important and sometimes they are not easy to come by (or to even know they exist). Also, deciding that resources are off-topic on the basis "they become obsolete", I find a bit short-sighted. Most good quality resources about Chinese language do not become obsolete (see books, specialized dictionaries, linguistic articles, etc.), but sometimes new resources become available that can also be useful and replace the usefulness of old ones. – Puco4 Sep 2 '20 at 9:58
  • I think the suggestions for a better resources page are fine. I am of the opinion of having a "locked list". For every new resource, it could be first posted in meta with the appropriate description and maybe require a minimum of votes and/or a moderator filter before moving it to the "locked list". – Puco4 Sep 2 '20 at 10:05
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    I'm coming to realize we need (at least) two things: (a) some kind of notoriety/usefulness threshold---we don't add something simply because "it's a relevant resource", and (b) we also need an eviction policy: some way to remove useless resources. – Becky 李蓓 Sep 2 '20 at 10:18
  • I don't agree that the wordiness is a problem. I think a list with just names of resources would be next to useless. How is a user supposed to know what to click, or indeed what will appear when they click? They shouldn't have to guess what the resource is about just on the title. However, I do agree with the rest, including that the introduction should be very short and not contain subjective evaluations. Something that describes what it is/does/contains, yes, saying that it's the best x/y/z, no. – Olle Linge Sep 11 '20 at 17:53
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Editing

I did some major editing on the Mandarin resources post, so I'll give my opinion section by section:

Many of the resources had wordy introductions and sales pitches; this is undesirable: the reader can click the link to find out. However, I like to add the price for non-free resources (it makes it feel less like an advert).

Quality control

Going forward, we'll need to implement some form of quality control. We simply cannot include every single resource---we are not creating a search engine. And there are many low-quality resources out there. So...

  • Notoriety: "it exists" is not enough to include a resource. Are people actually using it? Please ensure that only useful resources are added.

  • Eviction policy: We need a way to remove resources, otherwise the resources will ratchet up until it's unmanageable.

    My impression is that the community won't want to do much bookkeeping on this. I created a meta post with the intention of listing resources deleted from the resources post.

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