We've had a couple of questions popping up asking for resources for learning French:

Are such questions welcome on the site? I have a couple of concerns about them:

  • They aren't directly about French, they're specifically about the process of learning French.
  • More importantly, they are asking for large lists, which are known not to work on Stack Exchange. Read in particular When is it still appropriate to use Community Wiki? (summary: list questions don't work, and community wiki is not the answer).

Est-ce que les demandes de ressources pour l'apprentissage du français sont appropriées sur le site ? (Voir exemples liés ci-dessus.) J'ai deux réserves à leur sujet :

  • Ce ne sont pas des questions à propos de la langue française ou de son usage, mais à propos de son apprentissage.
  • Surtout, ce sont des demandes de listes, qui ont tendance à ne pas fonctionner sur Stack Exchange. Lire en particulier When is it still appropriate to use Community Wiki? (résumé : ces questions attirent des réponses qui ne sont pas utiles, et le community wiki n'aide en rien).
  • I thought of this when I asked my (reading) question. Yes, there might be some generic resources that - theoretically - just support parallel languages. But, frankly, I was hoping for answers to be very French specific. One issue would be that generic software would usually use very old French texts that no longer reflect modern usage. Same with French dictionaries as opposed to something like Google Translate. As to 'long lists', I think these questions come exactly because it is quite hard to find any relevant resources, not because there is an issue of curation of too many options. Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 20:55
  • area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/23685/educators
    – Knu
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 16:44
  • There's a kind of big list (alphabetically sorted in a single CW answer) that might work as in cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/7900/…, but this requires that it is clear as for what belongs to that list and what does not. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 20:17
  • @StéphaneGimenez Theoretical Computer Science is a community of scientists, what works and doesn't work there is pretty different from what works and doesn't work on other SE sites. Nonetheless, I agree that if we allow these questions, then a single, CW, well-organized answer will often be the best presentation. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 20:23

8 Answers 8


It's inevitable that such questions will be asked regardless of our policy. And they are relevant, if peripherically, to the site's topic. So I propose to allow resource requests (both for learning resources and for reference resources), but enforce a main-wiki-answer policy:

  • Keep a few very general resource request questions, community wiki, and consolidate the answers in a single community wiki answer. There can be a few community wiki answers, but split by theme (e.g. one answer for online resources and one for paper resources), not by contributor.
  • Be very liberal in closing future resource requests as duplicates.
  • Resource requests that are highly specific and not reasonably covered by any general request can stay on. The Literature Stack Exchange book recommendation policy¹ can provide inspiration for this case, with an emphasis here on being too specific for the general requests. As an example, Français d'Afrique is a subject on which little literature exists, and its answer is an example of a good answer (listing several books which together give the topic a wide coverage, with summaries of each).

Il est inévitable que de telles questions seront posées, que nos règles les acceptent ou non. Et elles sont pertinentes par rapport au sujet du site, quoique de manière périphérique. Donc je propose d'autoriser les demandes de ressources pour l'apprentissage et de références, mais avec une règle de wiki principal :

  • Garder quelques demandes de ressources très générales, en wiki communautaire, et consolider toutes les réponses. On peut éventuellement avoir plusieurs réponses en wiki, mais partagées par thème (par exemple, une réponse pour des ressources sur le web et une pour des ressources papier) et non par contributeur.
  • Être très libéraux lorsqu'il s'agit de clore des questions futures comme doublons.
  • Les demandes suffisamment spécifiques qui ne peuvent pas être raisonnablement couvertes par une demande générique peuvent rester. La politique en matière de recommendations du site Literature Stack Exchange¹ peut nous inspirer, avec ici un fort accent sur le caractère spécifique de la question par rapport aux demandes générales. À titre d'exemple, le français d'Afrique est un sujet sur lequel l'éventail de ressources existantes est limité, et la réponse est un exemple de bonne réponse (qui liste plusieurs ressources qui combinées couvrent le sujet en détail, avec un résumé de l'apport de chaque livre).

¹ Since the literature site has closed, here is the text of the policy.

  1. The questions must be reasonably specific. Not "What's a good book for a person who likes Harry Potter", but maybe, "What's a good book for a 13 year old boy who likes Harry Potter, Eragon, Percy Jackson, and Artemis Fowl?". The more details, the better. Otherwise, how could you expect someone to possibly answer?
  2. Answers should try to recommend as many relevant books as possible. Aim for a syllabus, not for an evening's read.
  3. Answers should provide some reasoning on why a book is suitable. Don't just say “read this”, explain why. [If you can't motivate why the book is suitable, consider leaving a comment instead of posting it as an answer. Answers that do not meet this guideline may be removed. --Anna Lear]
  4. This is not a popularity contest. Votes should go to the answers that provide the best match for the request. Don't vote up or down because you liked or didn't like the suggested books.
  5. Close any question which does not meet these guidelines. The number of votes is irrelevant when deciding whether to close a question.
  • Literature Stack Exchange no longer exists, sadly. Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 9:59
  • @LeVieuxGildas I've copied the policy from the data dump. Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 18:59

I think these should basically be allowed, and assigned the ressources tag. As long as they're not dupes, there should only be a handful of such questions anyway, and it could be useful to point to good quality resources for learning/improving one's French.


Yes because: This site is for: "students, teachers, and linguists". Being in the "student" category, if i want to study the language then asking what resources exist for studying French from insert-my-language-here are appropriate.

No because: This is a site about the language, not how to learn it.

However: english.stackoverflow.com seems to have had issues with similar questions. Perhaps, like they did, it is easier just to answer the questions (since English -> French is likely to be the most common requirement), close them, and leave them there so they don't keep on being repeatedly asked, no matter how many times you close them down.

  • 1
    Yes, I think these kinds of question are useful in moderation, and as long as we 'keep on top' of them.
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 4:17
  • 1
    I think we just need to get them out of our system early on, and tyhen we'll never really see them again.
    – Borror0
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 4:31

I just read the blog post on the closing of the Artificial Intelligence SE and it makes it pretty clear that we should try to avoid these questions, at least for the time being. On the other hand, I think it would be a much greater issue if we had too much of such questions, which is not the case.

So, eventhough I really dislike disapproving of anything1, I suppose we need to be merciless to these questions.

1I know a good SE site needs downvoting to work properly, but I can't bring myself to it yet.

  • Well, it makes it pretty clear that for AI site, it would not have worked out. AI experts are very deep level and - unfortunately - two random AI experts really don't have much to say to each other; their specializations too deep in different directions. It is different for French, you are targeting learners of French. Finer points of French, but still. Also SE podcasts talk about over-killing these questions once and then marking all others as duplicates. Sounds like a great idea to me. I would have loved for somebody to 'overkill' my question. :-) Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 20:07
  • Bouteille à la mer. Je me réveille sur ce sujet et va falloir rassembler nos forces. Je t'invite donc par ce message à lire ma réponse ci-dessous. Si on veut que ce genre de questions disparaissent va falloir les moinssoyer systématiquement.
    – None
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 13:02

I don't have a problem with these questions. I think they are useful, on topic, they can make the internet a better place.

In moderation.

The only 'if', is that I think they should be curated into single, CW answers (like Un francophone did here on my question).

So, I'd vote to stop closing. I think that the potential number of questions about different media related to learning/translating is VERY limited, and not worth worrying about.

After all, a site with experts on French is the logical place to ask this type of question.


Trois ans après que la question ait été posée il me semble qu'elle n'a toujours pas eu de réponse concrète de la part de la communauté (ou alors je n'ai pas su trouver). Je pense qu'il devient urgent d'y apporter une réponse qui dépasse le stade de la simple discussion car les demandes de ressources, sans être fréquentes, reviennent toutefois régulièrement. C'est normal dans la mesure où nous avons de plus en plus de visiteurs qui viennent ici en tant qu'apprenants de FLE (Français Langue Étrangère) et le site leur est aussi destiné.

En ce qui me concerne la réponse est claire : je demande la fermeture pour motif

primarily opinion-based

Par contre je pense que nous devons répondre à ces questions.

La solution qui me semble évidente est celle d'un wiki de ressources sur meta.

À l'identique de ce qui s'est fait sur ELL nous définirions dans la case « question » comment nous concevons ce wiki et chaque « réponse » serait consacrée à un type différent de ressources clairement identifié. Quand une question de ressource arriverait sur le site, elle serait fermée avec le commentaire de renvoi vers le « wiki ressources », chacun membre de la communauté pouvant abonder le wiki avec de nouvelles ressources propres à cette question si nécessaire.

Suggestion :

Je propose de transformer ma réponse en sondage, c'est à dire que ceux qui sont d'accord avec ma proposition plussoient cette réponse et les modérateurs peuvent décider que XX plussoiements équivaudront à une acceptation de la communauté.

Three years after the question was asked it seems as if no concrete answer has been given by our community (unless I could not find this answer?). I personally feel the urgency to bring an answer to this issue since we have had an increased number of visitors on the site who are learners of French and are asking for learning resources, and French.Language is as much for them as for those who enjoy quibbling over the higher subtleties of French grammar or etymology, as interesting as those can be to some of us.

My answer to learning ressources questions asked on the site is simple:

primarily opinion-based

I can't figure it can be otherwise if we want to stick to the policies of Stackexchange.

Nevertheless I do think we must answer these questions asking for learning resources, and the solution to that ought to be a wiki about learning resources on meta in the way it has been done on ELL.

We would define the purpose and shape of the wiki in the question area and each answer would be dedicated to a specified type of resource.
Each question about learning resources on the site would be closed with a comment directing to the meta learning resources wiki and each member of the French Language Community could add to the wiki when appropriate and at any time (no need to wait for a question to be asked)

What I suggest now:

This answer could be used as an opinion poll and each member of the French Language Community who agrees for the creation of this French Learning Resources Wiki could upovote this answer and the moderators would decide how many upvotes are necessary to bring the proposal to a start.


Stack Overflow is very much against recommendations of libraries and resources. It is a very active SE site and these questions would quickly pile up and become redundant, duplicates, and opinion based. If French SE is to grow to be this size one day, I think we should be very careful in allowing these sorts of questions.

My opinion:

I personally do not think that questions asking for recommendations of resources should be allowed because it makes for primarily opinion based answers (ie, which resources are best?). How helpful is this going to be for future users? Many of the questions are specific to a persons situation in their journey to learn the language.

What we should do, regardless:

The policy about asking for recommendations of resources for learning French is not well defined on this site. Yes it has been discussed in meta, but this does not make it apparent to newer users. I believe that it is time to make a decision about this, one way or another, and decide if they are on or off-topic.

Once we have done this, the help section relating to asking on-topic questions needs to be amended. Our official policy needs to be more concrete.


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