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Whoever "promoted" us in .ru networks, did a very good job. However, now we are facing that problem that there are many people who are ready to answer questions, but where are those who want to ask them?

How do we find and attract those people? Is there something like dirty.com? =)

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I agree with @Malcolm. Maybe we need to revisit this question. Possibly, we're not targeting the right audience with this site. If our audience is non-native Russian speakers that are learning Russian, then this site will never get sufficient volume of users-questions-activity to graduate. If on the other hand we start targeting active Russian speakers, then we have a much higher chance of attracting larger audience and building a larger community.

I think, if a question is asked in English by a non-native speaker, then we should aim to answer in English. However if a Russian speaker is asking the question, then the question should be asked in Russian and answered in Russian.

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  • We had a lot of Russians here, and they didn't want to ask questions, they just wanted to answer it. The majority of the questions still comes from foreign people. As for the language of the site, I think that it has been agreed long ago that a Russian question should be answered in Russian. Do you have examples where it is not so? – Olga Dec 17 '12 at 9:29
  • @Olga I did not mean "answer in Russian"; I meant "ask in Russian" – Aleks G Dec 17 '12 at 11:35
  • Oh, I see. I'd rather ask questions in a language I prefer. I don't think that it is fair to ask anyone to ask things in Russian only because they are Russian or in English only because they are not Russians. – Olga Dec 17 '12 at 11:59
  • @Olga I agree. However we could indicate that the preferred language for asking questions is Russian, with English also being acceptable. – Aleks G Dec 17 '12 at 12:35
  • I actually prefer English =) – Olga Dec 17 '12 at 12:42
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    @Olga I don't dispute it. I think what Malcolm was (rightly) saying is that Russian speakers coming to the site for the first time may be discouraged from asking questions because they see most of the existing questions are in English. – Aleks G Dec 17 '12 at 12:46
  • Yes, that is what I agree with, too. – Olga Dec 17 '12 at 12:48
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Too many answers is obviously not an issue. It is a good thing to have. On StackOverflow.com about a quarter of all questions are not answered.

Too little questions is a little disappointing but I do not agree that moving to questions in Russian is the solution to this problem. I will try to explain in a moment.

First, what can be done to promote this forum:

  1. I agree with statement of Aleks G that we should somehow promote it to the Russian language students abroad. This is good idea. (Though the question is how). It can be done via two ways: via teachers/academic circles, and via students themselves. Maybe we can go to Facebook interest groups and mention this forum there.
  2. Another idea (coming from Olga's comment that many Russians on this forum prefer answering questions to asking them) is that we need to encourage existing users to ask questions. I, for example, did not ask a single question :-) mostly because of laziness, not that I think that I already know all the answers. I will try to ask more. Maybe others can do the same. In fact, on stackoverflow many experts with sky-high reputations are constantly asking questions. Maybe Russians here are just shy (just teasing). :-).

    The only thing I personally do not like is when the question is asked only "for filling the beta site with content". The question should be interesting to both parties: asking and answering.

  3. Another possibility to promote is to tell our Russian speaking friends/colleagues that this conference exists. Not all of them are interested in Russian language as a subject but some of them may be.

  4. Problem of small number of registered users of this site will go by itself with time. We do not need to drastically change our traditions for that. In fact, the more popular is the studying Russian among students with English as a first language or international students with good command in English, the more popular will be this forum. And talking here in English will with time attract students to the forum.

    I have just looked at statistic page: Russian Language and Usage is not doing too bad comparing to other language sites. Number of users is comparable with French, German, and Chinese forums while they are 2 to 3 times older than we. Number of questions per day is more than of French site (1.4 vs 1.2). Though we need 10 times more to get out of beta (as far as I understand from this page). :-(

  5. It is a classical, so-called problem "22": we are not getting enough traffic because the site does not come even close to the top results of the Google search query "russian language forums". But to get closer to the top we need more traffic. What can we do about it? Maybe write a wikipedia article :-).

Secondly, why I would prefer Russian Language and Usage as it is predominantly in English:

  1. Most important, to my mind, it is what makes this site unique. I've seen many sites on Russian language in Russian but it is my first which has a tradition to write in English. Imagine you would send a twitter message about this forum. What would be its distinguishing features? One of them could be that it is in English, second that it is completely community based - no corporate sponsors.

  2. Being in English this site gathers together the people with similar experiences - people who was exposed to English through living abroad or intensely communicating with English speaking people while leaving in Russia. Common experiences mean more interesting conversations.

  3. For me, it is interesting sometimes to compare Russian and English. With site being in English it is more likely that I will be understood.

  4. I enjoy writing here in English because the practice improves my English as well (hopefully:-).

  5. Most people participating in discussions on the OP here agree as far as I understood that if a question is posed in English, it should be answered in English and the same for Russian. If this happens, we will create kind of zebra, two sub-sites in one. It will not make sense to create links from one question to another if they belong to a different language subsystem. What will happen most likely that within one question people will answer in Russian the question posed in English. I had similar experience on French Language and Usage site. I asked in English, but some comments came in French. I felt little unwelcome.

In conclusion, I do not agree that giving up the original tradition of writing in English is worth to get more traffic. Note, by the way that French Language and Usage uses lots of French but their traffic is less than that of this site.

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  • I used #StackExRLU tag in twitter. Do not think it will be in trend's top but mentioning here just in case :-). – farfareast Dec 19 '12 at 23:21
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A good way to promote this forum would be to somehow advertise it to Russian-language students outside of Russian-speaking world. If anybody here has links with Russian language departments in various universities, colleges, etc. anywhere in Western Europe, America, Australia, etc. - that would be ideal.

Anyone?

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  • I have talked to a friend from the Institute of the Russian Language, there was a vague hope for our site to be promoted there. Maybe I should remind him of our talk, yes. Other than that, I know that there is a community of Russian as foreign language teachers, but I am not sure how to reach them. – Olga Dec 17 '12 at 9:32
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And I think that the problem of the site is that it is not used by the people who only speak Russian. How many questions are asked in Russian? I would say that very little, especially in comparison with other StackExchange sites about languages.

For example, right now I opened the French site: a fair amount of questions on the active tab are in French. I opened the German site: lots of questions in German. Then I opened our site. How many questions in Russian? None at all.

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  • Do you have any ideas how to attract those Russian people who are interested in asking questions about Russian? And French is a special case, of course =) – Olga Dec 17 '12 at 9:30
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    @Olga Right now the people get to the site, and see only English there, therefore thinking that this is the site for English-speaking people seeking to learn Russian. We need to change that mindset. Someone asks one question in Russian, then another one, then this grows like a snowball. Ideally there should be a Russian interface, of course, because right now the site doesn't look friendly for those who only speak Russian. Writing something in FAQ is useless if it's in English. By the way, why is French a special case? Anyway, there's also Spanish site, lots of Spanish questions there as well. – Malcolm Dec 17 '12 at 19:17
  • There must be a way to detect user's OS language and give him the russian version if appropriate, with notes about how and in which language to ask questions, through a pop-up. – user1306322 Dec 17 '12 at 19:51
  • @Malcolm: How to better put it: French is less than love English language. I guess it is by historical reasons. Interesting is that in certain English-speaking circles the feeling is mutual. It gradually goes away though. – farfareast Dec 19 '12 at 1:57
  • @farfareast Can you elaborate on the explanation? I didn't understand what you meant by a language being less than "love English language" and how this affects the number of questions in French. – Malcolm Dec 19 '12 at 4:12
  • @Malcolm French people prefer to converse in French, and I have heard and saw myself a plenty of situations when Frenchmen refuse to understand English even if they actually do understand it. They adore their own language and culture and try to stick to them, for example, when they ask questions. As a result, they are sometimes seen as unfriendly to foreigners. – Olga Dec 19 '12 at 7:48
  • @Malcolm but it is not the topic of our discussion here. We were talking about how to attract people who want to ask questions, and who are those people. – Olga Dec 19 '12 at 7:51
  • @Malcolm: It is a typo - too much editing. is needs to be dropped. Sorry. :-) – farfareast Dec 19 '12 at 15:32
  • @Olga I think that preferring to talk in some language and being friendly to people who don't speak it is quite different. The latter is definitely important, but I think that the former is natural for anyone. At least I fell awkward when talking about Russian not in Russian. Also there are many Russian people who kind of understand English, but can't express themselves freely in it, so that is also lost audience, besides those who don't speak English at all. – Malcolm Dec 19 '12 at 20:28
  • @farfareast OK, that makes sense. – Malcolm Dec 19 '12 at 20:29

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