I think it's safe to say that we reached a consensus in an earlier meta post that we need canonical resource posts, one or several. We thought that it would be good to post such questions at meta and some questions were already asked, but we were informed by SE staff that this is not the way to go. If the question is actually about Latin, not the site, it does not belong to meta.

I still think that such resource lists would be very useful to have on the site, and I don't want to give up the idea yet. The question is: How to implement resource lists? Or do you think there is no reasonable implementation and the idea should be buried?

4 Answers 4


I propose, as some of us have been discussing in the conloquium and as @RobertCaraino suggested, that we post a question on meta soliciting suggestions for "most needed resource questions," asking for one question per answer. We could then pick the 2-4 top questions and post them to the main Q&A with a banner explaining their unusual status.

Robert is working to add a big-list framework to SE ("slow in coming, but I'm working on it"), so if that happens later and we want to take advantage of it, we can lock these 2-4 resource questions for historical reasons.

I'll add @JoonasIlmavirta's suggestion that we could start by featuring the meta "most needed resource questions" question for a week or so and then picking one or two to add to the main site. That way we'll see how it goes, and we can add another couple later if we want.

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    I suggest we let meta question for most needed resource questions be featured for a week or so, and then choose two top answers and ask the corresponding questions on main. (Or maybe even one?) We can ask more later, but we should first test how things work out. We will be much wiser after having the first two questions around for a while. I'm interested to hear what our active users think of the solution you propose.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 20:10
  • I'm fine with giving this compromise a try. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 20:13

My preference would be to use tag wikis to list resources, and meta to explain how to use them and why.

There are many potential resource questions that could be asked: grammars, histories, linguistic studies, pronunciation guides, and more. Many of them closely correspond with tags that we already have, and the tag wiki for each one provides a place where resources can be listed. For example, see 's wiki:


A standard reference for Classical Latin pronunciation is W. Sidney Allen's Vox Latina (available as a PDF)

Something similar could be done for all the tags on our site. For example, the wiki for could list the relevant sections in introductory textbooks as well as grammars. The wiki for could list dictionaries, grammars, and perhaps online translation tools (if any are worth mentioning!)

To ensure that people are aware of the existence of these resources, I'd include a note to that effect in the tag excerpts.

Meta posts could complement these resource lists by explaining how they can and should be used in the context of this site, such as in How can I ask a translation or homework question?

The pros I see for this approach would be:

  • Resource lists are available
  • The lists can be edited by most users, but require approval by others
  • Editing the lists happens behind the scenes, so the lists do not distract from the "real" Q&A
  • We don't have a precedent issue, where we have to be constantly debating whether or not it's okay to have another resource question about XYZ aspect that isn't covered in an existing one.
    • It seems arbitrary to me to say we will only accept some small number of resource request questions, when it's quite possible that some people would be interested in locating the best works on pronunciation, comparative grammar, historical linguistics, Vulgar Latin, Ecclesiastical Latin, translations of Classical texts, etc. If we do this, who's to say that we can't have a question asking for a list of the best English translations of Augustine's Confessions?
  • We keep the focus on quality, definitive Q&A

Some cons might be:

  • The lists are less visible to users than they would be if they were on the main site
  • We can't express our opinions regarding which resources are best by voting

To me the first of these cons is a trade-off that I'm willing to make for all the reasons addressed in the "pro" section. But let me address the second one.

Say we have a question on introductory textbooks. A year from now, we have 4–5 answers that range in votes from –2 to +16. Then, a new introductory textbook comes out, and we add it to the list. It may be the best textbook ever, but it will take months or (more likely) years to get more votes than the other answers on the page.

My point is that as resources are added in future months and years, the voting mechanism will not be particularly helpful. My experience is that excellent new answers take a long time to overcome the votes earned by good old answers, making votes misleading for the purpose of recommending resources.


I'd prefer that resource lists reside in tag wikis and meta posts, where they can be freely edited without distracting from the Q&A. This avoids the problem of how we draw the line between "What are good introductory textbooks?" and "What are good translations of the Aeneid?" since tag wikis can handle both. It does not use the voting mechanism for recommendations, relying instead on a process of approving and rejecting edits, but I argue that the voting mechanism is not particularly well-suited for this situation anyway.

  • This is a good suggestion, thanks! It's true that there is potential need for a whole lot of resource lists. If we want to have them all, questions are hardly the way to go as Robert suggests in a comment to my answer.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:14
  • What "freely edited without distraction" also means is that you are likely forgoing much in the way of vetting and sorting when these lists don't get much visibility, participation, or even voting (our main strength of creating this resourced here). I like the idea of tag wikis, but they were never very well implemented as a full-on, tightly-knit part of this site. Wikis will work, but stuffing useful content into this space is a pretty close approximation of saying let's not do this at all. 'Just my opinion. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:14
  • If we decide to go with the tag wiki option, it does not prohibit from making separate resource questions later on. And in any case, I see no problem listing resources in tag wikis. It causes no problems, but I'm not sure if it can do much good, either. (It might, I just don't know.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:18
  • @RobertCartaino That's a fair critique. We'd have to be intentional about linking to them whenever relevant, but there are indeed inherent limitations that make them less accessible. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:33
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    @Nathaniel This doesn't have to be all or nothing. Joonas's last comment was very apt. Building large, selective resource posts and using tag wikis are not mutually exclusive. They are simply two different media separated by scale... but serving the same end. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:56

This is my suggestion. Disagreements and other suggestions are welcome.

A separate question on main for each resource type

Since meta is off-limits, I see two options: help pages or the main site. Actual questions and answers are most visible and easiest to edit, so I would strongly prefer the main site. I am not fully comfortable with having such questions among other questions, but it does seem like a better option than not having resources listed at all.

I still stand by my answer to the linked question — I think each type of resource should have a separate question and each individual resource should be given in a separate answer to the corresponding question. (For the rationale behind this, see the answer itself.) I think one gigantic question for all resources is too broad and difficult to use in comparison to narrowly scoped resource list requests.

Dealing with possible issues

I assume there will not be huge overflow of such questions. Excessive questions can be closed as duplicates. The voting system guarantees that the best answers rise up, and the questions can be protected if many low quality answers appear.

One issue is that such questions might be frequently updated and can therefore fill a significant portion of our front page. I don't know a way around this issue. I hope that the frequency of revisions will eventually settle to a reasonable level once the resource questions age a bit. I suggest we try to live with this and bring it up if it becomes a real problem.

Perhaps every resource question should have a banner that explains how things work. Creating a tag for this is one option, but that the tag would be a meta tag whose use is only allowed in special cases. This is not how tags should work. (Thanks for the comment, Robert Cartaino.)

How to select which questions can be asked

Here is one possible way to manage the number of resource questions: We make a meta question "What resource questions do we need?" and we have answers like "dictionaries", "online courses" and "text corpus tools". Then each well received suggestion is implemented as a question on main. The banner on the main questions points to that meta thread and states that only resource questions approved there should be asked. This one meta post would then also serve as a list of all resource questions.


I am still undecided as to whether such questions should be CW or not. I would currently say no.

Robert Cartaino points out in the comments that probably only a small number of resource questions would be manageable. If we only want to allow some resource questions, then we need to have a meta consensus on the choice. (The method may or may not be what I suggested above.)

  • One question of this type was asked on main, and subsequently closed and deleted: How can I start learning Latin? Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 16:02
  • Is it possible to comment on existing answers to closed questions? If so, perhaps the thing to do—both to exclude low-quality answers and to keep the question(s) from hanging out on the front page—is to ask each of these questions, populate them with answers about the resources we know about, add an answer to each saying "If you want to suggest a resource that isn't listed here, leave a comment on this answer and we'll take a look at it," and then close them. But that may not be kosher. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 16:09
  • @Nathaniel, I had forgotten about that post. Something like that should be viable. Before tolerating such questions on main, I would like us to find an agreement on meta as to how such questions should be posed (if at all). I'm still far from sure how to go about all this, but I hope we can find a reasonable solution.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 16:36
  • @JoelDerfner, I kind of like the idea of communicating suggestions in comments, but I don't know if that would work well in practice. Perhaps the suggestions should be comments to the resource questions themselves. If every answer to a canonical dictionary question contains one dictionary, it makes little sense to suggest a new dictionary by commenting on some of the existing answers. One can comment on closed questions and their answers, but reopening and reclosing a question to add an answer is a bit of a juggle. The idea might not be kosher, but maybe something similar would work.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 16:42
  • This sounds good generally, but please do not use tags to delineate these questions as something not usually allowed on your site. That is not the purpose of tags: The Death of Meta Tags. Create some sort of post notice instead. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 17:29
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    Regarding How to select... This sounds feasible, but be wary. "Big list" questions (must-read books/blogs/web sites/resources, etc) are really easy (too easy) to ask, so letting folks solicit more than a handful will mean most of them will almost certainly fall into disrepair. The community should agree that a precious-few questions are so helpful and so beloved, they are worth the on-going maintenance of meticulously curating and culling this ever-growing list. If you allow more than the tiniest handful of these on your site, they won't work. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 17:37
  • @RobertCartaino, thanks for the warning! It's hard to guess what would be a good choice without prior experience.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 18:03
  • @JoonasIlmavirta, I like your idea of having people comment on the question rather than the answers, though if reopening and reclosing the question to add an answer (which is what I had in mind) isn't what we intend to do, what's the alternative? Would we simply leave the comments there as additional options that people looking for the information could read? I'm not sure I feel comfortable setting the Answers in stone, especially as a) these things can change over time and b) I'm certain there are lots of resources I don't know about. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 5:01
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    @RobertCartaino, how many questions would you suggest "a tiny handful" represents? I wonder whether this advice and Joonas's idea about having a separate question for each kind of resource conflict with each other. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 5:03
  • @JoelDerfner, I think it's confusing to new users if the mods occasionally reopen and reclose a question to add a new answer. Then the status isn't honestly "closed", and the closure reason will send mixed signals. I don't like setting answers in stone, either. And I don't know how to choose which resource questions to allow if we need to limit them. This is complicated...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 9:04
  • @JoonasIlmavirta, actually, aren't we talking about a "locked" question rather than a "closed" question? (My fault for starting the whole thing off by using "closed" instead of "locked"—but I actually meant "locked"—I'm sorry!) So I guess my question is really, is it possible to leave comments on LOCKED questions, not closed questions? If so, locking seems less likely to send mixed signals. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:21
  • @JoelDerfner, ah, that changes things! I don't know how, but it certainly does. I don't know if one can comment on locked questions. I could probably go and test on a locked question on some site, but I don't have the time now. I'll try to remember it tonight. (I'm not sure what the locks are built for. It should be checked as well.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:24
  • Well, it looks like that's a no-go—see e.g. stackoverflow.com/questions/218384/… . Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:43
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    @JoelDerfner This method locking questions and pre-answering with well-known resources, commenting as new answers, reopening to add new entries... this isn't how the site works. If you can't do this using the existing Q&A model, this experiment is dead in the water. The vast majority of users are not privy to these meta discussions, so if the system isn't usable by everyone, you can't reinvent how familiar features are supposed to be used without it becoming a harassing situation to everyone who just doesn't get it. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:02
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    @JoelDerfner Before I go, I see three options. (1) This is too hard, don't do it, (2) wait for SE to implement a big-list framework (slow in coming, but I'm working on it), or (3) create a meta thread soliciting suggestions for much-needed resource questions, one suggestion per post. In a few weeks, pick the top 2-4 and post them to the main Q&A with a banner explaining they are somewhat exceptional posts. If they don't work (they run amuck or folks lose interest in the upkeep), protect, lock, or close them. If a better idea comes along later, close the previous list(s) with a historical lock. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:16

I'm surprised that the option of community wikis has not been mentioned yet. You can turn an answer into a community wiki (see the community wiki checkbox below each answer), which partially transfers authorship from the original author to the community. The threshold (in reps) for editing community wikis is lower than for questions or answers. (For more details, see the Meta SE link above, where the only answer is also a community wiki.)

To see some impressive community wikis that list resources, see

  • It isn't really mentioned here, but the two "big list" posts that we've created so far do indeed use CW status for everything. See Which online Latin dictionaries should I use and why? and How can I study Latin on my own? Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:27
  • @Nathaniel Well, on those two questions, each answer is only a "mini" community wiki. In the examples I listed, there is just one answer that serves as community wiki. I thought that was the more common approach.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:32
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    I think you are right that that is the more common approach, but one resource per answer allows voting to order the list. That's the rationale, at least. Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 20:36
  • CW is a great tool (and has been used as @Nathaniel points out), but it alone does not solve the problem. It is a good way to make things editable for all, but it can only be used once we have (as we have) agreed where, how, and how much to post resource questions.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 21:05

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