We have a tag listening-comprehension. The last question with that tag gathered some close votes, one with the comment:

I'm voting to close this question because I do not think that listening comprehension questions which require external resources add value for other visitors of the site.

I have no opinion on this reasoning. Neither do I have an opinion on whether that particular question ought to be closed.

But I feel that the argument would apply to basically all questions in listening-comprehension.

I have looked through a couple of questions with the tag. Some of the questions are closed, some not. I cannot find a differentiation line here. That's why I think, it makes sense to discuss this here in order to come to a reasonable policy.

If possible, we should come to a criterion on when listening comprehension questions are on topic and when they are not. This could also result in a policy that we always or never consider them on topic.

  • 1
    There is precedent for this kind of question, as well as handwriting deciphering questions which I think have the same kind of issue. If you assume the purpose of SE is to create a database of answered questions, so that people with a similar question can find the answer here without having to ask, then the value of this type of question is dubious. This is the justification given for not accepting straight translation and proofreading questions. If there are criteria which would ensure that answers are "reusable" then I'd say make them policy, but I don't know what criteria those would be.
    – RDBury
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 13:57
  • @RDBury: There is at least one central difference between decyphering handwriting and listening comprehension, namely that SE allows the embedding of images but not of sound files. Also, one might argue that decyphering a handwriting is a more homogeneous task than listening comprehension of more than one sentence or bulk proofreading/translation. (Mind that I am not taking a particular stance here; I am just saying that there is a point in discussing this case separately.)
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 9:25
  • Thanks for asking this!
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 18:42

3 Answers 3


Generally, I think LCT-based questions are perfectly valid for this site. They are about German language, they may address common problems, and they normally have distinct answers that do not provoke opinion.

BUT: For pure technical reasons such questions must rely on external links to provide the material to support the question (there is no technical support to embed audio or video material into a question other than linking to that material). That means, such a question must always rely on the existence of an external link to stay relevant, which can, for obvious reasons, not be guaranteed and is thus strictly inappropriate on generally all SE sites. Thus, such questions which simply cannot be made self-contained must be closed for exactly this and no other reason.

--> LCT questions would be appropriate in theory, but the technical framework to support them is just not there (yet?) on SE.

  • I like the distinction between essential and technical considerations.
    – Jonathan Herrera Mod
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 9:50

The bottom line seems to be similar as in this meta question: We have a problem class, which is typically easier to solve by a native (or say proficiency level C2) speaker, but is just superfically related to German language (here: because the sound snippet happens to be German) as opposed to requiring knowledge concerning grammar or other rules. This means, that the probability for re-use of question and potential answers is very small.

A re-usable answer may exist, but is so difficult to write, that rarely somebody takes the effort. (It could contain typical patterns, which letters may get dropped in which combination in which dialect etc.)

Since it is so much easier to simply transcribe the sentences given, we have the same choice as in the linked question: Do we want to make visitors/askers happy even for questions, which are more on the lower end of general usefulness?



Currently, the listening-comprehension tag has the following description:

For questions about the comprehension of spoken German. – Für Fragen über das Verständnis der gesprochenen deutschen Sprache.

This description is misleading. The term listening comprehension ("Hörverstehen") does in fact not refer to understanding spoken language, but to understanding utterances from a vocal source.

We should differentiate between listening comprehension and spoken language. In fact, a tag spoken-language already exists.

Action Proposal

  1. We should consider all listening-comprehension questions as off topic.

  2. The tag listening-comprehension should be maintained, but the description (usage-guidance) should be changed, indicating that listening-comprehension questions are considered off topic here.

  3. The tag spoken-language should get a meaningful description, clarifying the difference to listening-comprehension.


We generally do not accept questions which are specific to a single use case and systematically, as they have a low chance to appeal to a general audience. Most promienently, we do consider proofreading or requests for text translations as off topic.

We do treat handwriting as an exception from that rule. However, that does not force us to make another exception by analogy.

As pointed out in a comment by Wrzlpfrmt, an important difference between listening-comprehension and handwriting is the fact, that the data source of listening-comprehension questions (the vocal recording) cannot be uploaded, but will need to be stored on a third-party site and linked here. This makes it very likely for it to get lost later, rendering the use of the question for later readers zero.

  • I fail to understand what you see as the difference between listening comprehension and understanding spoken language. FWIW and AFAICT, listening comprehension is pretty much the standard term for any challenge where learners need to comprehend the sounds of somebody speaking in the language they learn. Finally, would you conceptual questions on listening comprehension off-topic, e.g., “How can I learn to better distinguish e and i when listening?” (I don’t know whether we have actually any such questions.)
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 20:01
  • @Wrzlprmft To me, "spoken language" is a register of speech and can actually be written.
    – Jonathan Herrera Mod
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 2:26

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