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As the title says.

Questions that are not about Chinese are infrequent, but they do pop up from time to time. Some common cases are:

  • askers who are unfamiliar with asian languages and ask questions about Japanese
  • askers who are unfamiliar with asian languages and ask questions that contain unclassifiable symbols altogether
  • questions about other languages that are loosely tied with Chinese to the point to be considered off-topic
  • questions not directly related to language learning and its numerous aspects, which are otherwise off-topic

Currently the only way to close these is to choose the "Other - add a comment" option, which breaks anonymity, or to choose a different less appropriate close reason.

Since I've already seen several questions closed as not being about Chinese, I wonder if we couldn't have this close reason added to the regular options.

Close reason proposal

Not about the Chinese language

This question is not about sinitic languages or other topics directly relevant to learners and teachers of Chinese.

The wording "sinitic languages" covers Mandarin and other on-topic languages. The wording "directly relevant to learners and teachers" should reasonably exclude from the close reason tags that are considered on-topic, e.g. input methods, learning and teaching methods, dictionaries, HSK, etc.

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    I certainly would like to see this---my doubt is about "exceptions", because some questions which are not about Chinese language are considered on-topic (e.g., input methods). We need to be clearer about what "not about the Chinese language" means. Recall I wrote the [comment survey; this close reason has been manually used multiple times.] – Becky 李蓓 Sep 11 at 23:06
  • @Becky李蓓 I proposed a close reason. By the way, how does adding a new close reason work? Can you mods do it? Do you need to involve developers or community managers? – blackgreen Sep 12 at 20:38
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    “Mandarin and its topolects” 🙀 are you kidding? well, i would say the “its” is provoking 😼 – 水巷孑蠻 Sep 13 at 5:09
  • Yue, Wu, Gan, etc. are not topolects of Mandarin, they're topolects of Sinitic or Chinese languages (which are fully on topic, despite our lack of expertise in some of these). Mandarin is a sub-family of Sinitic/Chinese. – dROOOze Sep 13 at 5:21
  • @水巷孑蠻 that was an inaccurate remark, the close reason subtitle itself was worded correctly. Thanks for pointing out – blackgreen Sep 13 at 9:13
  • @blackgreen regarding "Can you mods do it?", yes, mods can do it. There is also a maximum limit of 3 active custom close reasons, but this site currently only has 2 (disregard the "blatantly off-topic" when flagging, it's not really a reason), so there's still 1 slot available. – Andrew T. Sep 18 at 17:34
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I certainly feel this is worth pursuing. Indeed, users have independently used this close reason manually, e.g. zypA13510 (2020), Becky 李蓓 (2020), dROOOze (2019), Tang Ho (2019). From my point of view, that's solid evidence that we need this close reason.

For reference Spanish has the close reason:

Spanish.SE: This question is not about the Spanish language as described in What topics can I ask about here?. Esta pregunta no versa sobre el lenguaje español según se describe en ¿Qué tipo de preguntas puedo hacer aquí?

In my survey, I found it was the only language site with a comparable close reason.


Let's look at the candidate close reason critically; I want to get this right so it remains functional over time.

Not about the Chinese language

This question is not about sinitic languages or other topics directly relevant to learners and teachers of Chinese.

  1. Are the boundaries of the term "Sinitic language" appropriate? (Are they too tight, too loose?) Honestly, I don't know. Users (more than one) who are more knowledgeable than me would need to confirm this before I would feel comfortable using it. There's also the drawback of there being a mismatch with the site title. However, there is an advantage of the term "Sinitic language" being broad and succinct. (It should be a capital S in "Sinitic language", right?)

  2. I feel "or other topics directly relevant to learners and teachers of Chinese" focuses too much upon people, not topics. However, I like how it leans towards "learning" (which I feel should be the standard guideline: "what do we learn about the Chinese language?"). It's also wordy, and a bit imprecise (is e.g. climate change relevant to learners and teachers of Chinese?).

  3. I feel we should indicate how it is intended to be applied: we need example questions where it would/wouldn't apply. (And it needs to be clear to the user who is not familiar with the site.) In particular, I'd like to have an idea of how it impacts:

    • Chinese input methods.
    • Questions about resources. (E.g. databases.)
    • "What does this say?" (character identification) questions.
  4. I want to add links, so the reader can find the consensus and follow up with appropriate edits. Maybe the Spanish.SE method works best here (i.e., linking to the on-topic page), but we'll need to revise that too.

  5. Not wanting to complicate this process, but there are post notices nowadays. We don't have to use all of them, but we can. The form diamond mods need to fill in is viewable in at meta.SE answer (image).


With the above in mind, let's think about modifications. Here's some tweaks:

  • Brief description:

    Not about the Chinese language

  • User guidance:

    This question is not about learning Sinitic languages, nor facilitates such learning.

  • Close description (displayed publicly)

    Questions are generally expected to focus on learning Chinese (Sinitic) languages, or facilitate such learning; this question is not considered to meet the community's standards.

  • Post owner guidance (only post author can see this):

    Questions are generally expected to focus on the Chinese language (including Sinitic languages). If possible, please clarify what you want to learn about the Chinese language, or how this question facilitates such learning.

  • Privileged user guidance (viewable by those who can vote to close/reopen):

    Questions are generally expected to focus on learning Chinese (Sinitic) languages, or facilitate such learning.

This should only be considered a draft idea at this point (and I'll probably edit these in the future). It needs thinking about carefully.

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  • Nice! What about teachers though? Is that understood to be included in the learning sphere? e.g. the tag [teaching-methods] – blackgreen Sep 13 at 9:22
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    They're so rare, it's not really worth including it. And yeah, it's mostly covered by "learning" and "facilitates learning". – Becky 李蓓 Sep 13 at 9:39
  • Maybe also add a hyperlink in the notices defining "Sinitic languages", so that people are less likely to think that it just means any language in China – mic Sep 25 at 16:33
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it depends on how people define “chinese language”.

imo, it should be regarded as the language used by “han-chinese” (漢), nothing more.

in “you-know-where”, there’s a tendency to treat “chinese” as “chinese nation” (中華民族); that, disregarding minorities’s cultures, customs & languages.

for reading & writing aspects of “chinese language”, it should be related to chinese characters (hanzi, kanji; 漢字); in one of the scripts: oracle bone script (甲骨文), bronze script (金文), seal script (篆書), regular script (楷書), running script (行書) & cursive script (草書).

for speaking & listening aspects, you need a “s” in “chinese languages”. mandarin, cantonese, hokkien, hakka, chiuchow, toishan, . . . all are eligible.

in conclusion, questions about han-chinese characters & various dialects / spoken languages used by han-chinese, are appropriate in chinese stack exchange.

my two cents 🍀

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  • This precisation is due, but I don't think it's necessary to go to this level of detail in a close reason and its very short subtitle. The title of the close reason "Chinese language" would simply echo the title of this website, which doesn't mention the numerous sub-themes that we consider on-topic. – blackgreen Sep 13 at 9:15
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    @blackgreen my approach here is to clarify the notion of “chinese language” first. if, moderators & other active users agrees (with necessary amendemnts); then, upon such notion, we could tell users the reasons of “not about the chinese language” in concise, clear wording. – 水巷孑蠻 Sep 13 at 9:36
  • There are plenty of on-topic questions about pinyin orthography. I don't think questions about reading and writing should be limited to Han characters. – mic Sep 24 at 20:42
  • @mic, then write down your arguments, let all chinese se users to compare, and choose :) – 水巷孑蠻 Sep 25 at 1:33

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