We've already gotten one question seeking resources, and given the nature of this site, I predict we'll see many more when it goes into public beta. People, after all, will come here to learn Latin, and part of that will be asking where they can find resources to do it.

In addition, a major part of this site is teaching people how to read and write (and speak?) Latin better, and providing a list of resources to use -- things like dictionaries, extra reading, courses -- with some annotations, like what's free and where you can get it online, would be extremely helpful to anyone wanting to learn Latin.

With that in mind, should we make a canonical "What resources can I use to learn Latin" question?

There are several things to consider, like how to keep the big questions from making people think it's okay to ask their own specific ones – I'd imagine a note at the bottom would help, but I'm not sure it would suffice.

TL;DR: Should we make a canonical question to list resources which help with learning Latin?

NB: Meta is off-limits, whether or not we do this – Robert Cartaino♦


4 Answers 4


I prefer having several such resource questions. Instead of what you propose, I would like to see a question for each type of resource and one answer per resource — for example, a question asking "What online Latin dictionaries should I use and why?" with one dictionary suggestion per answer.

Benefits of this approach:

  • We can vote on individual sources separately and the best ones rise up. If a single answer consists of all online Latin dictionaries we know, what does voting even mean?
  • If posed as a single question, it would be too broad. There might be several pages of answers and good sources will be buried deeper.
  • Narrower questions serve people better. If I want to find a good online tool for making a text corpus search, I don't want to scroll through pages of suggestions for dictionaries and courses, I want the best tool for me to be among the top couple of answers.
  • The resource questions should be linked to each other ("If you were looking for introductory online courses instead, see this question."), making them all easier to find.

administrative note:

I'm seeing these list-of-resource questions being posted in meta as a way to somehow allow questions that would otherwise not be allowed on the main site. Meta is meant to provide support for the operation of this site and we cannot let it morph into an alternative type of subject Q&A.

There is a better solution.

If the community does not want excessive resource questions on the main site, you can come to a consensus (in meta) that a select few would be allowed (on the main Q&A). Incidentally, we are considering ways to administer a limited number of these "big list" in much the same way network wide. But in the meantime, posting them on meta is not a viable solution.

How do we limit these question?

As for sending a mixed message to new users that asking broad resource questions is fair game, you can add conspicuous notice to the top of these posts (we have a historical lock if the thread gets unmanageable) that essentially says this is an exceptional situation and not be use as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

In either case, posting these types of questions in meta is only moving the problem to this site; i.e. you would be eliciting a type of question by example that you would otherwise would not allow.

  • WRT historical locking: How would new resources be added? Protecting seems like the only option.
    – Nic
    Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 15:24
  • 3
    Are the examples I provided (ELL, ELU, etc.) simply historical artifacts that in theory ought to be sent back to their main sites? Or is the issue more that we were creating many such questions, while other sites had only one? Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 15:50
  • Would a community wiki thread work instead? That is, any member can edit it with moderator supervision? That's how we did it in mythology.SE, though that was main site and not meta.
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 17:02
  • I've incorporated some aspects of this "canonical resources" idea into a question more specifically related to helping users better understand how to use this site: How can I ask a translation or homework question?. Am I correct in assuming that listing resources in that context is acceptable? Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 17:30
  • @Nathaniel, the question you asked looks good to me, and it is certainly something our meta should contain. Your question calls for a couple of basic resources to get started (together with general advice on asking questions). I still want to have more exhaustive tool lists somewhere on this site, but that would have to go under other questions. Apparently these lists would have to go on main. (I'm not sure if we should migrate the current questions to main or reask them.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 17:52
  • @JoonasIlmavirta My answer can certainly be expanded to include more resources that would be helpful. My preference would be to leave it at that. But if we are going to have more extensive lists on main, I really think it needs to be limited to one question. Otherwise these posts, which will be among the most heavily edited and answered on the site and therefore the most visible, will send the message that this is a resource-finding site, not a question-answer site. But I really hate kicking off yet another meta post just to hash this out, when this post should have sufficed. Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 19:00
  • I've just asked another resources question that to my mind has a different (perhaps overlapping) scope. If people disagree though I'm happy to delete. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 8:48

Definitely, as, like many other SE sites, this site will be used as a reference as well as a Q&A board. As such, a question like that, with answers like:

Here is a great resource! The Cambridge Latin Course provides an excellent gateway for new Latin students.

Would be excellent as a resource like this, rather than forcing new students to Latin to refer to other online resources, like WikiHow, and would enable them to rely on the experience of many in the Latin SE community rather than forcing them to research excessively themselves.

Furthermore, the question would serve as an excellent resource to mark all of the eventual "How to learn Latin in language x" questions, if every learning resource was available in one specific question.


I think this is a good idea.

It seems to me though that there are several appurtenant questions, the first of which to occur to me is: do we want to weight this list by value at all, and, if so, how do we determine it? In other words, do the Cambridge Latin Course, LLpsi, Avellanus, Comenius, and My Aunt Gertrude's Friend Bob all get tossed in albá líneá (indiscriminately)? If not, do we have categories ("widely used today," "medieval," "other")? Do we only want to include resources that people with reputations above a certain number vouch for? Or only resources folks in the private beta vouch for? I don't think we want to get into actual rankings (like, is CLE better than LLpsi or the other way around), but maybe we should have a few sentences about each one, at least the ones we know about?

The question boils down to, how informative do we want the lists to be for LLL (Latin Language Learners)? If I'm online one day, thinking, hey, maybe I'll learn Latin, it might be nice to show up to a place where the resources are not just listed but qualitatively compared or evaluated in some way, but the moment we start doing that it seems things might get very complicated.

I'm mostly agnostic on this question; I think in theory it would be very nice to give LLLs more information about things rather than less but I'm not a particularly logistical thinker and I don't know whether it would be setting us up for more trouble than it's worth.

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