From reading the FAQ, existing question, answers and votes, I am not clear if the desired, long-term scope of this website is to be professional like English L&U, or for language learners like ELL (English Language Learners). It seems we're doing a little bit of both but there needs to be only one standard to evaluate a question and only one audience group to target while writing an answer. There are real examples of a star question on ELL could get a lot of downvotes on EL&U, or a popular question on EL&U gets very little attention on ELL, demonstrating the directional conflicts between the two scopes/intents. So can someone clarify which is the direction for this site?
I don't think we need to stick to the same policy of EL&U. The only reason why the English site took that decision is that English is so "requested" that it got continuously lots questions on both "topics", especially very easy questions, for example when to use a/an.
We don't have that problem and not one other language site has it, so I think we can simply have both. In the end, our requirements make it so that also potentially easy questions have a sort of prior research that make them "less easy" since there really isn't an answer in the internet.
If you (not just you, all users) see a question that could have been researched more before asking it, you can comment on it asking the OP (be careful with the wording here) to provide their research. If you see that a certain question is really really basic then you can vote to close.
And this brings me to this: the site decides its direction. The community does. So each time you decide to vote to close a question or not to vote to close, you're taking a direction. This is how you shape a site. If the users voted to close the questions they thought to deserve it, future users would be, well, educated, if you get what I mean. I as a moderator will try to keep the quality high by closing, but I'd like to see more regular users voting to close, that way I know that we are all working towards it. Believe it or not, but the policy "less closing so less users will get scared" is not a successful policy. We need to close those that deserve it, this way our site will slowly get its own shape and, yes, new users are intrigued by a polished site. Look at Skeptics SE: it's the hardest site to post on, yet it's one of the more successful.
Hope this helped. :)
Those that participated during the proposal stage at Area 51 would have a better idea on the original intent of this site. We can roughly classify users of this site into three main groups:
- English speakers learning Chinese
- Chinese speakers learning English
- Bilinguals who are interested in Chinese
If I am not wrong, this site is launched mainly because of the collective effort from the first and third group. This explains why we have questions predominantly in English. The second group came in much later and are put off either because:
- they get their questions closed (because they are obviously trying to improve on their English), or;
- they gave wrong answers and get down-voted as a result of not being able to understand the question fully (especially when it comes to etymology), or;
- they cannot understand the FAQ and fall foul of the rules here (example giving one liner answer with no explanation).
What I feel, after seeing what was done in ELL and an upcoming site dealing with Chinese Emigration, is that perhaps this site should be more appropriately called Chinese Language for Learners. Then we can have another site in pure Chinese to capture an important group that has been totally missed out:
- Chinese experts who only know Chinese
I think ELL should accept questions from the second group and perhaps we can funnel them there. But, at the same time, I also think it would be more difficult for them to get answers there as it has to cater for a wider audience. Unless we are adopting a very lenient approach, which makes moderating harder and inconsistent, putting off new users, I agree with you that there is a need to make it clear in our scope.