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Introduction

As per the suggestion from Joonas Ilmavirta, I have chosen to create this question, with the intention of having this as a one-stop shop for updated information on what is relevant for Latin SE and suggestions for new topics that might be of interest for the site.

This question does not discuss what the name of this SE should or should not be; the questions discussed below cover this. This question’s only concern, is to cover what aspects are covered by this SE and nothing else.

Background

Several questions have been asked in Latin SE, both by new askers to the site on the regular SE, as well as in Meta, in order to get an idea of what is covered and not. I will list the most prevalent below.

Other relevant questions include: Answering off-topic questions, Could this question on Latin's transformation into Romance languages be narrowed and made in-scope?, Why are there questions about the Greek language on here?, How would the Latin.SE community feel about opening the site up to further classic languages?, What should we do with low-quality etymology questions?

What should be our scope? (2016)

This question was asked by JoonasIlmavirta on the 9th of March 2016. He opened by mentioning the help pages discussing what is on- and off-topic, and then asked three key questions: What is on and what is off topic, and what would be ‘a good concise description of our scope?’

There was one answer with several comments, and the answer was updated based on the comments. In summary, the answer listed the following:

  • The scope: Latin in all its aspects, both linguistically, culturally and historically. Experts and students are all welcome, but we will remain a StackExchange site, not a service/help centre.
  • On-topic:
    • Latin in and of itself and its relation to other languages.
    • Interpretations.
    • History/culture as from the viewpoint of Latin.
    • Questions in English and Latin are both welcome, though English summaries are requested if the latter.
    • Basic questions as well. Our doors should be ‘[…] wide open and appear inviting to anyone.’ (Answer to the Meta question of 2020.)
  • Off-topic:
    • Translation requests where no effort is shown.
    • Too broad questions; references and summaries are preferred here.
    • Homework help unless effort is shown.

Why don't we rename this SE to Classics or Classical Languages? (2019)

This question was asked by NNOX Apps on the 20th of August 2019. The asker made a point of the fact that Etruscan, Ancient Greek, and other Italic languages all fall within the same main sphere of interests. There were three arguments put forth, which may be summarised as such:

  • Joonas Ilmavirta’s perspective:
    • We should keep the name; simplicity is good, and it allows ease of communication.
    • Interpreting ‘Latin Language SE’ as including closely related topics allows redefining our scope as needed.
    • Latin is our main focus; other related topics (stressing Greek) is included conditionally.
    • Rebranding to ‘Classical SE’ might deter mediaevalists and the Living Latin crowd. The name ‘Latin and Classics SE’ avoids this.
  • Draconis’s answer:
    • Suggested ‘Classical Languages SE’ and ‘Classics SE’ to encompass all related languages, but exclude post-classical Greek and Romance languages.

Should Latin Stack Exchange be renamed to Classics Stack Exchange? (2020)

This question was asked by Canned Man on the 7th of January 2021. It stressed the fact that Ancient Greek already was included. It further focused on the problems of defining the field of Classics; the positive aspect of how this would include several other Classical languages from smaller fields; and requested a thorough definition of what the scope of such a rebranded site should and could be.

There is one answer, by JoonasIlmavirta, with a good discussion in the comments. In summary:

  • The term ‘Classics’ will more easily be misunderstood than ‘Latin’.
  • Classical languages is already a poorly defined term.
  • Including Greek in the name is misleading; it does not define the site’s focus.
  • It is more important that the site’s scope is clear for the occasional visitor, not just for the core user base.
  • We should maintain our ‘wide open doors’ policy; a scholarly site name could negate that.

Suggested format for this question site

Presently, there are several question sites to navigate to get an overview of what is and what isn’t within the scope of this site. Having this single question page – which could be linked to in the welcome tutorial – as a one-stop shop for answering all questions about what is on topic, would make it easier both for new users and for your average lurker who stops by the site just now and then.

Suggestions for new topics could be added as comments to existing answers or this question. These could be discussed on their own meta question pages, and when a community consensus is reached, be added to this page.

I suggest that as replies to this question are posted a set of answers which define the following aspects:

  1. Linguistic aspects (ɔ: ‘languages’) covered by Latin SE
  2. Archaeological aspects covered by Latin SE
  3. Cultural aspects covered by Latin SE
  4. Epigraphical aspects covered by Latin SE
  5. Historical aspects covered by Latin SE
  6. Religious aspects covered by Latin SE
  7. Other subjects covered by Latin SE, such as historical anthropology
  8. A general overview of what kind of questions are and are not on topic.

This first post (ɔ: the question) should be updated with a complete list of all the topical answers provided, linking to each of them. This entire question should be considered a discussion, with posts being updated to reflect the wishes of the community, moderators and administrators on how this site should be run and what it should be. Due to this page’s nature, no answers would be chosen as the selected answers. It would be beneficial for the community for the administrators and moderators to heavily moderate this question page.

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  • I actually think it would be unwise to give a detailed list of what exactly is on topic on subfields like linguistics and architecture. Some things need to be codified, like our main scope and what to do with Greek. But others are best left vague. After all, our topic is de facto "things related to Latin that the community likes". Therefore would prefer not to have those eight answers. What I find more useful is a description of what kinds of topics are allowed. I can write up an answer with that approach if you find it reasonable.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 10 at 10:09
  • I think that would be very reasonable. The whole goal of this discussion, I believe, is to get some clear cut answers to what actually belongs here and not.
    – Canned Man
    Jan 10 at 10:47
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    I edited your first list a bit, as you seemed to be missing "off-topic" and it was a little confusing.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 10 at 11:53
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    Would it make sense to change the title of your question to "What should the exact scope be?". I think "What's on topic here?" would work better as a short support question where a newcomer can find the answer very easily. It's a difference between discussion (like this question) and support (what a new user is likely to need).
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 10 at 11:56
  • The list I created was more in relation to the idea of a ‘Classics SE which we call Latin SE’ type site. Classics is, after all, by its very nature cross-disciplinary. Maybe it could be shortened to ‘Other disciplines related to Classics, such as’?
    – Canned Man
    Jan 11 at 9:54
  • That's one issue with the word "Classics". Some understand it to mean literature only, while for some it covers more disciplines. I should actually add this argument to my answer to the renaming question...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 11 at 10:02
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We do not have a perfectly defined scope, nor should we aim for it. Compare this to how the law if any country does not enumerate all the possible actions that can be taken and define which ones are legal and which ones illegal.

What we do need is a definition of our main scope and some remarks around its borders. In the end, our scope is "things related to Latin that the community likes", and that is the de facto scope of any SE site.

Some key things need to be codified, but we should not codify too much.

Description of scope

I prefer to describe our scope like this:

Our site focuses on languages, and our languages are:

Questions are on-topic as long as they are about any of our languages or otherwise very closely related to them.

That's all there is to it in my opinion. The rest is just commentary and suggestions. There are plenty of specific topics where the question can be about Latin or Greek or the smaller ones: grammar, etymology, history, culture, archaeology, history, religion, philosophy, literature, linguistics, vocabulary, studying or teaching these languages, translations. If I forgot to list something, it doesn't make it off-topic.

What it means to be about Latin or related to it cannot be defined definitively. It is based on the judgement of our users, so in effect our scope is "the kinds of questions that we already have".

Overlaps

Our scope overlaps with that of many other sites, as the list of topic examples indicates. This is not an issue. If you have a question about a Latin resource for history, the best site is decided on the focus of your question. If the question is mostly about Latin, ask here. If it's mostly about history, ask on the history site, or perhaps on the site for the history of science and mathematics. A question can also happen to be on-topic on several sites. Or none.

The scopes of all SE sites slowly evolve in time. If we wanted to avoid overlaps, we would need to carefully trace the moving boundaries of the other communities. That would not work. It is best that each community depends on its scope independently.

Being on-topic is not enough

The scope tells what an acceptable question is about, but it also makes a difference what a question is like. There are things like showing effort, not asking us to do your homework, having a clear question, not being trivially answerable by any dictionary, being interesting, and not having multiple questions in one. There is a help page for asking good questions.

Your question being within our scope does not automatically make it acceptable. The topic should be within our scope and the question should satisfy our quality standards. Those quality standards are not exactly codified either.

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  • To the ‘especially’ list, I would add Etruscan.
    – Canned Man
    Jan 11 at 9:47
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    @CannedMan Indeed, Etruscan belongs on the list. Added. The language list shouldn't be fixed, so those are only examples, but Etruscan is certainly worth mentioning explicitly. I'm pretty sure people wouldn't mind the occasional question about similar neighbors of Greek such as Phrygian. It's such a small topic that I don't think it makes sense to draw a hard line.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 11 at 10:09
  • I completely agree. It might be worth having a comment for small-topic languages, just to make sure that yes, they are indeed welcome, should they fall within the scope of this site.
    – Canned Man
    Jan 11 at 13:36
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    @CannedMan I rephrased that point so that the other languages can be understood more broadly and the following list is just examples. The concept of a "small language" is open to interpretation, but I hope the intent is clear enough.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta Mod
    Jan 11 at 13:43

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