The time has come to decide what goes in the FAQ.

I think the best way to organize ourselves is for everyone to provide some contribution, so we'll proceed like this:

  1. This question will be edited and updated (half of it, so we preserve this "intructions" part) with the FAQ that, when completed, will be moved to the actual FAQ link up there.

  2. Propose a point in each answer. For example "Translation requests" with some description. I'll post some on my own as a start too.

  3. If you agree with the answer, vote it up; if you disagree with it, vote it down. (Explain why in this case).

For those who don't know, the actual meaning of upvotes and downvotes in Meta mean agreement and disagreement, respectively.

If you want to express something more than a vote, use the comments below. If the comments aren't enough for a certain matter, create another meta post so we can discuss more in depth and then when it's decided, come back here and vote consequently. For minor changes like a change in wording, just edit the answers.

I think it's all for now, if you have questions, you can use the comments under this question.

Note: I think that when this FAQ is ready, we can think of a Chinese version provided by native speakers, but for now let's do the English one. :)


The Chinese Stack Exchange Site is for experts, language enthusiasts and people who have interest in the Chinese language. Whether you're a native speaker or not, this is the place for you. This site is about discussing about the finer points of the language, but also about less expert questions that might be encountered both when learning the language itself or when you're just interested in how it works.

Can I request translation? This is not a translation service, so we will close any translation request that does not show research effort.

Should I post in English or Chinese? Questions and answers can be written both in Chinese and English on the Main Site only. The Meta site should be in English only, though. This is a request by the Stack Exchange team so they can communicate with us. So, on the Main site you can choose either language, but we suggest a guideline that has been used on other Stack Exchange sites as well:

  1. If the question is in English, please answer in English;
  2. If the question is in Chinese, please answer in Chinese.

In either case, if you're not as comfortable in the question's language, you can provide a brief but complete answer in the original language, and then a more detailed answer in your preferred language. Other users may help improve your translation. Translations are not mandatory, they are just helpful for users who are not fully bilingual. But keep in mind that if your answer is correct without providing a translation, the OP might not consider it as much as it deserves.

Can I ask for resources?: The short answer is: It depends.

There are already a few common resource questions collected under the resources tag. We also set up a question that groups resources for learning or improving your Chinese; you're free to add more material to it, but make sure you read the instructions before posting. If you do ask for another list of resources, please be very careful how you phrase your question. Open-ended, chatty questions are explicitly discouraged on the Stack Exchange network. The "Real Questions Have Answers" post gives this advice:

"You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page."

We're not saying that you should never ask for a list of suggestions, but when you do, you should ask for something as specific as possible. A source of example sentences, or board games to practice speaking, for example. Avoid vague questions like, "What are some good web sites for learning Chinese?" as they are going to be closed.

If you do have a chatty, open-ended question, visit our chat room.

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For my part, I focus on aspects of the language that take 1) a lifetime to master, 2) less than 100 words to answer, 3) require an expert's advice. Usage, synonyms, nuances, all fit into this bracket. Ideally, i'd be able to compose an essay in Chinese after receiving those 3 things. Ideally I mean. Anyway that's not really an answer, so I put it as a comment. –  magnetar Jan 20 '12 at 20:55
    
@magnetar Were you saying that such points should be considered as on topic? –  Alenanno Jan 20 '12 at 23:12
    
Update: I included a draft for the presentation. –  Alenanno Jan 21 '12 at 0:13
    
Update: Updated the first two questions on the FAQ. I reworded something here and there, but they're roughly the same. :) –  Alenanno Jan 22 '12 at 11:11
    
Update: FAQ updated. –  Alenanno Feb 17 '12 at 13:12

5 Answers 5

Questions/answers in English or Chinese

Questions and answers can be written in Chinese on the Main Site only. The Meta site should be in English only. This is a request by the Stack Exchange team so they can communicate with us, because they don't speak Chinese.

So, on the Main site you can choose either language but we suggest a guideline that has been used on other Stack Exchange sites as well:

  1. If the question is in English, please answer in English:
  2. If the question is in Chinese, please answer in Chinese.

In either case, if you're not as comfortable in the question's language, you can provide a brief but complete answer in the original language, and then a more detailed answer in your preferred language. Other users may help improve your translation. Translations are not mandatory, they are just helpful for users who are not fully bilingual.

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If a user is more comfortable in Chinese but wants to answer an English question, should we suggest that they provide a brief answer in English and more detail in Chinese? –  Don Kirkby Jan 20 '12 at 20:44
    
@DonKirkby Uhm... Sure, I think it's ok, as long as the part in English entirely answers at least the "question". I was thinking that, in case they couldn't do that, they can also leave a message asking that if someone is fluent in both can help with a translation for the OP and the others. :) –  Alenanno Jan 20 '12 at 20:55
    
OK, @Alenanno, I reworded the translation guidelines to be symmetrical between Chinese and English. –  Don Kirkby Jan 20 '12 at 21:09
    
@DonKirkby Thanks for the rewording, it looks better. :) –  Alenanno Jan 21 '12 at 0:45

Translation Requests

This is not a translation service so we will close any translation request that does not show research effort.

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Do we need to specify the different types of questions that we'll close, or are they all covered by #3? –  Don Kirkby Jan 20 '12 at 21:01
    
@DonKirkby Not all, but we just need to specify the ones that we "predict" will occur the most in our site. Then if new ones come into sight, we can add them to the FAQ. For example, we can predict that some might ask questions about something Chinese but not language, that would go to our FAQ stating that we only talk about Chinese and not other aspects of China. –  Alenanno Jan 20 '12 at 21:04
    
Sorry, @Alenanno, I was talking specifically about translation requests. Do you think we need to lay out three different kinds of translation requests that we will close? Perhaps we should just say, "Translation requests that show no research effort will be closed." –  Don Kirkby Jan 20 '12 at 21:15
    
@DonKirkby Meet me in chat, so we can communicate better. –  Alenanno Jan 20 '12 at 21:18

Asking for resources

There are already a few common resource questions collected under the resources tag. If you do ask for another list of resources, please be very careful how you phrase your question. Open-ended, chatty questions are explicitly discouraged on the Stack Exchange network. The "Real Questions Have Answers" post gives this advice:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

The post suggests you avoid questions where:

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”

We're not saying that you should never ask for a list of suggestions, but when you do, you should ask for something as specific as possible. A source of example sentences, or board games to practice speaking, for example. Avoid vague questions like, "What are some good web sites for learning Chinese?"

If you do have a chatty, open-ended question, visit our chat room.

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Tags

It has been decided that questions are by default about Mandarin, so if your question is about it, don't use the tag 1. On the other hand, if your question is about other varieties or dialects, provide the appropriate tag in order to prevent confusion.


1: This note won't go on the FAQ, but I wanted to say that if this is approved, we'll make it so that even if someone uses that tag, it won't appear in the question.

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Asking about the various dialects and varieties

Questions about the dialects and varieties are on topic. These include:

  • Mandarin
  • Wu (Shanghainese);
  • Yue (Cantonese, Taishanese);
  • Min (Hokkien, Taiwanese and Teochew);
  • Xiang;
  • Hakka;
  • Gan;
  • Jin*;
  • Huizhou*;
  • Pinghua*.

Source: Varieties of Chinese, Wikipedia.


* these seem to be some dispute about their classification, so I'd like some native speaker to clarify this point.

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It was kind of proposed that, as a standard, questions will be considered by default about Mandarin, therefore if a question is about Mandarin, the tag shouldn't be included. If the question is about another variety or dialect, the related tag should be included. What do you think about it? Comment on this answer. –  Alenanno Jan 21 '12 at 0:26

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