Can we please make sure we close quickly any question asking about set up of software. For example IMEs that are not working.

These are off topic on every other site as they are way too localized.


Although a down-vote on meta means to disagree, I don't feel like down-voting your question, because I disagree but you also make a good point... I'll elaborate a bit.

I think such questions have a chance to be open-ended and as such they must be closed, but it's also true that this site is the best one for such questions (about Chinese input) so we can't just erase them all. Considering this, I guess we could set them as off topic or not also counting the questions themselves, their form, etc., so not just by prohibiting them altogether but trying to see what points can be asked here and what not.

Anyway, I'm not sure yet, so I'd like to see also other opinions and see where the community as a whole moves to.

  • In my case, I went into the question writing process expecting an answer like "well, pinyin entry usually follows this format, which is explains why the pinyin you enter can result in two different sets of han characters, etc etc." In other words I expected a broadly useful answer. The resulting meta discussion effectively became my answer, as I found out methods for pinyin entry vary quite a lot I suppose. – DuckMaestro Dec 21 '11 at 20:47
  • Yes. If I type "zai 4 jian 4" the result changes. If I type "zaijian" the first entry is always "再见", so I type it, then click 1 and voilà. :) – Alenanno Dec 21 '11 at 20:50
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    The thing is, this site is for language experts. Not language and Ubuntu or Windows Vista or Android experts and therein lies the problem. Do you want a language site with computer software questions on it? This site is for asking questions about the Chinese language and how to learn it. Having difficulty with your installed software is not solved here. This is a rule in every other site because there are too many variables when solving a software issue. The question doesn't help others and it involves extensive discussion. It is nice to help others but then the site and the community suffers. – going Dec 21 '11 at 21:45
  • @xiaohouzi79 Well, not just experts but I know what you meant there... I'm not saying we should just allow them, I agree that they can bring too much discussion, but do you think everything about that topic should be excluded? I just don't feel like saying that. – Alenanno Dec 21 '11 at 21:51
  • @xiaohouzi79 my only counter-argument is that I think pinyin entry (as a set of concepts & rules) is not necessarily the same as pinyin entry software. In my case my software was installed correctly, but my question is more on the concept of pinyin entry active in my package. Eventually wouldn't most questions about pinyin entry as a concept be well-covered (leading to closeable duplicates later, at worst) and still broadly useful? or are there just too many, different pinyin entry methods? (I don't know this myself). – DuckMaestro Dec 21 '11 at 21:54
  • @Alenanno - Everything that is a software (setup, bug, configuration) problem, sure. Questions about usage of an IME I think should be on topic, but like how can I type the "u" in the Chinese word green or something like that. – going Dec 21 '11 at 21:56
  • @DuckMaestro - You are getting the message "under construction" that is not a usage problem, that is a lack of feature or a bug with the IME you are using. Go and ask the people who wrote the software. You are not going to get a reasonable answer to that question here, I am willing to bet my hat on it. Just a bunch of crappy discussion. – going Dec 21 '11 at 21:57
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    @xiaohouzi79 So, how to properly write some character, etc — on topic. How to configure some software — off topic. If you meant something like that, then I can agree. Software stuff is better in Superuser or similar sites. – Alenanno Dec 21 '11 at 21:57
  • @xiaohouzi79 I see where you are coming from now. This is chicken and egg I think. Assuming you are correct that it's a bug in the IME, then there's no way I could have known that at the time of writing. To a pinyin IME newbie such as myself, a priori it seems like intended behavior that I'm conceptually misunderstanding, and hence my motivation for writing the question. – DuckMaestro Dec 21 '11 at 22:00
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    I disagree with this. Surely how to input Chinese is closely related to 'the Chinese language'. They could be asked on superuser, but that will have a different audience, who is likely to be far less knowledgeable on this. The people best qualified to answer such questions will be on this site. Now, I thik some common sense should be excercised. For example, questions about what to use seem on topic to me. Questions about how to install it and configure it seem off-topic. – Owen Orwell Dec 22 '11 at 7:48
  • @OwenOrwell - Just because someone may get an answer here as opposed to any other site doesn't automatically make it on topic here. I can't ask software support questions about RunKeeper on the fitness site for the reasons stated above; they are a poor format for these sites and benefit only the asker. Open ended questions about what to use are also off topic unless they ask for something specific e.g. I need and X to do Y, not what is the best X. – going Dec 27 '11 at 3:25
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    @xiaohouzi79 please read my comment again - I'm not saying all software questions should be on topic, but I am saying there will be a lot that are – Owen Orwell Jan 2 '12 at 15:57

I just wanted to add my voice as I have a question that is part computer, part Chinese and want a view on whether it's appropriate, and why I think it should be accepted:

I'm trying to get Anki set up properly with the Mandarin pronunciation, tone colours and so on, but I seem to be getting stuck somewhere along the way. I imagine someone on Chinese.SE would have a similar set up, so would be a good person to ask.

As far as I can see this is a computer related issue, but just wouldn't occur for anyone not learning Chinese. I think software questions that are specifically related to Chinese should be accepted as we are probably the community that is best able to answer these kind of questions.

That's just my 2 cents on it anyway.

  • You sum up the problem in your answer. You assume there are no Chinese experts in a computer forum but assume there are computer experts in a Chinese forum. The temptation is there because Stack Exchange sites provide a quality Q&A site but as mentioned on every other site, these sites are not suitable for tech support. You should search for the support site for the particular product and ask there. – going Dec 23 '11 at 11:02
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    I don't assume there are computer experts on a Chinese forum, I expect there are people who have set up computers for learning Chinese however, and those are the people in the best position to answer these kinds of questions. – Ciaocibai Dec 23 '11 at 11:06
  • I can see you use a whole other bunch of SE sites so you should already know, support questions aren't allowed on any site. As I have said in my answer and other people have mention many many times a persons computer has a certain configuration that only applies to you and that is why these questions aren't allowed. How many possible questions could there be? The answer is as many possible configurations as a computer allows. This is a language site not a software support forum. – going Dec 23 '11 at 11:11
  • @Ciaocibai I use Anki as well. If you need some help you can ask me. Try pinging me on chat writing "@ale", my name will come up, so press Tab, it will fill my name. I'll see the ping as soon as I come to the site. – Alenanno Dec 23 '11 at 12:40
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    So far, I'm undecided about whether to accept software support questions on this site. @xiaohouzi79, you say, "these questions aren't allowed," on most stack exchange sites. Are you basing that on a moderator comment, blog post, or discussion consensus? If so, could you provide a link so I can read the background, please? – Don Kirkby Dec 26 '11 at 7:32
  • @Alenanno, thanks for that - on holiday currently but I might have to look you up when I'm back home! Don, I'd be interested in seeing some background reading as well. – Ciaocibai Dec 26 '11 at 9:18
  • @DonKirkby - I'm basing that on experience on many other SE sites. Try asking a software support question on StackOverflow. – going Dec 26 '11 at 9:30
  • I found several software support questions on Stack Overflow, @xiaohouzi79. I've put links and some more thoughts into my answer. – Don Kirkby Dec 27 '11 at 6:11
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    @xiaohouzi79 I happen to be a mod on SO and FWIW software support questions are allowed on Stack Overflow, provided they are about tools used by programmers. See SO's FAQ. – Orion Dec 28 '11 at 23:27
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    Well that about settles it for me - it makes sense that we could support users of software when used for learning Mandarin. – Ciaocibai Jan 1 '12 at 8:34

Can we please make sure we close quickly any question asking about set up of software. For example IMEs that are not working.

I disagree with that because of the "any." Excluding all software questions just because they are software questions is excessive in my opinion.

Chinese is somewhat unique compared to many other languages because it's not exactly intuitive for someone who is just learning the language to know how to input Chinese.

However, I agree that "IMEs that are not working" fall into the "too localized," as they aren't likely to help other visitors.

These are off topic on every other site as they are way too localized.

Not really. The only site that is comparable is Japanese.SE, where they did ban IME questions. That doesn't mean we have to do what Japanese.SE is doing.

Also note that there is a distinction between "off-topic" and "too localized." Off-topic is what's not on-topic, and what is on-topic is, to a certain extent, up to us to decide. "Too localized," on the other hand:

This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.

I strongly disagree that questions all software questions are unlikely to help future visitors. In fact, one of the first things someone learning Chinese will do is to try and figure out is how to set up an IME. Because of that, I think they shouldn't be banned.

Again, I am not saying all software questions should be allowed - just a few that are applicable to everyone learning Chinese. It would be preferable to have them here rather than on sites like Superuser because (presumably) they fall under the expertise of Chinese speakers, not power users.

  • With the first part you are picking parts of my sentence. I didn't say "all software questions" I said "all software set up questions" which is different. Software set up is dependent on too many factors and are usually only helpful to a limited set of people without turning one question into ten when someone jumps in and says hang-on what about iOS or I have the same problem and I'm running Ubuntu. – going Jan 4 '12 at 22:04
  • @xiaohouzi79 If that's the case then I would agree with you. – Orion Jan 4 '12 at 22:05
  • With the second point I am still referring to software setup questions. Not with IMEs in particular. All software setup questions and bug questions (not configuration) are bad, not just "My IME is showing weird characters please help". – going Jan 4 '12 at 22:06
  • Same with the 3rd point, I am happy to allow software configuration and other questions. I'm not asking for a blanket banning on software questions. – going Jan 4 '12 at 22:07
  • @xiaohouzi79, please clarify what you mean by "software setup questions" versus "software configuration questions". You say setup questions are bad, but you're happy to allow configuration questions. Clarifying the difference might help us reach a consensus here. – Don Kirkby Jan 6 '12 at 20:28

I asked the question in question.

I had concern at first but noticed this 20 vote example question from Area 51: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/6388/chinese-language-usage/6470#6470.

Is that example question not representative anymore? or how can I rephrase my question to be on-topic? My question has a little more specificity so is perhaps a gray area. I'm not sure where else to ask such a question.

  • That question asks 'how' it isn't about solving technical issues related to setup or use. These are always off topic because there are too many variables. That means any answer provided is not beneficial to the entire community. That example question is also very low quality as it is a question that is answered easily by Google. – going Dec 21 '11 at 20:26
  • We don't have a site for technical assistance because these questions usually involve extensive discussion and often the asker leaves before the conversation is finished. These sites are designed to answer questions that require limited discussion and are a benefit to the entire community. – going Dec 21 '11 at 20:31
  • I did Google first with no luck, but regardless I agree with your first point now. Thanks for elaborating. – DuckMaestro Dec 21 '11 at 20:32
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    I added this comment to Alenanno's answer, but I want to be clear here-- My question from my perspective at the time of writing was a conceptual one, not a technical one. – DuckMaestro Dec 21 '11 at 22:05

It sounds like you're worried that software support questions will be hard to answer, and might crowd out the more interesting vocabulary, grammar, and usage questions that this site should focus on. In your comment on another answer, you said, "support questions aren't allowed on any [Stack Exchange] site," and "Try asking a software support question on StackOverflow."

Personally, I find software tools interesting, and I find tools for learning and typing Chinese particularly interesting, so I would welcome that kind of question here. This question about installing psycopg2 seems to have been welcomed on Stack Overflow (15 up votes so far). A quick Google search of stackoverflow.com for "install" gives lots of hits, and I could find no comments in the first four questions that anyone thought they were off-topic.

On the other hand, this draft FAQ on meta.japanese.stackexchange.com contains links to several software tools, followed by this comment:

Help with any of these tools should be asked on the corresponding website and is off-topic here.

I couldn't find any actual software support questions on the German or Japanese sites, and this question had been migrated from the main Japanese site to its meta site.

The evidence is mixed, so I currently support including software support questions here if they:

  1. Are about software tools related to the Chinese language.
  2. Are clearly asked with a description of what should happen and what does happen. Essentially, they follow ESR's How to Ask Questions The Smart Way.

If someone can provide clear evidence of a network-wide policy against this type of question on sites other than Super User, I will change my opinion. If someone can provide clear evidence of policies on other sites, I will reconsider my opinion. By clear evidence, I mean moderator comments, blog posts, or discussion consensus.

If the consensus is to close this type of question, I would prefer migrating them to Super User instead of migrating them to this meta site. Any question that is poorly asked should probably just be closed instead of migrating.

  • Speaking as a moderator on French Language, I would close questions about computer setup as off-topic (and possibly redirect them to Super User, where they would generally be on-topic). – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 5 '12 at 22:55
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    Thanks, @Gilles. So computer setup questions are off-topic on French, probably off-topic on Japanese, and a moderator from Stack Overflow posted a comment on another answer saying that they are on-topic there. Looks like we can make our own decision here, and my personal preference is to allow specific and clear software support questions here. – Don Kirkby Jan 6 '12 at 20:22

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