I asked this question, which got put on hold for being primarily opinion-based.

I'd usually leave a closed question as is, for getting it reopened rarely happens. However, the question did attract a few votes (both ways) and maybe there's a way to improve it and get it reopened? I need help doing that.

I was not sure if the question would be legit or not. Aware of the subjective nature of my question I consulted What types of questions should I avoid asking? before asking.

Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? Constructive subjective questions:

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
  • tend to have long, not short, answers
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • are more than just mindless social fun

"invite sharing experiences over opinions" seems to be exactly what my question is doing. I was hoping to "inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”", by providing a list of proposals of properties/activities, so that answerers could pick them up and go into "long [detailed], not short, answers" about why and how to choose a movie or TV series, movie genre, etc. "[I]nsist[ing] that opinion be backed up with facts and references" was attempted by asking for the existence of a rating of movies.

Apparently, that was not enough.

Besides the general close reason, a few specific aspects were pointed out:

Not everyone learns a language the same way, what helps someone else, might not help you (and vice versa)

I absolutely agree with that. I decided to give watching movies a go. If that will work out for me or not is something I will have to find out myself. Please note that one main feature of the website is to mark one of possibly many received answers as accepted, which shows that it's the solution that worked for the asker. Other people might find other answers more helpful. I conclude that different things working for different people differently well is to some extent part of the system and actually desired or at least expected.

How do I draw the line for this question of being too personal and only about me? I tried to provide concrete examples for movies in my question. This way, everybody can relate to the situation, for example "You really could follow that plot?" or "Who would have trouble understanding that?"

It's also not clear how well you speak English right now, or what your difficulties are

It's hard to come up with measures for how well a language is spoken, especially when assessing the own skills. I avoided that and provided the two reference cases instead. As pointed out, I was more interested to get answers from movie enthusiasts, especially those that aren't native English speakers themselves, than from linguists. "The live broadcasts from a Shakespeare theatre play are to be avoided at the beginning, for their language is complicated.", "Documentaries are great, because they often explicitly explain things.", something like that maybe.

To outline a goal, I included the following in my question:

My goal would be to not only be able to follow the plot at ease, but also catch the fine details of dialogue and language that were purposefully inserted by the artists that crafted the movie.

How can I improve my question? Is it even salvageable?

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    Please do not be discouraged by this. We are here to help. You are always more than welcome to come into our main chat in The Screening Room and ask any questions that you may have :) Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 9:25
  • @steelerfan We should draw a clear line between (1) an OP who wants to learn and follow the guidelines of this site and (2) an OP who thinks his question can cross the line. When new users get discouraged by that, they should understand why their question is off-topic. If they don't like it here, they can go. There are many Q&A sites on the internet.
    – Rathony
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 18:24
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    @Rathony I'm sorry if I don't agree with that attitude and I don't think that is the case here. The point is that we should strive to create a welcoming environment for new users so that they won't go. Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 22:02
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    @Rathony I don't know how long you have been here on Meta Exchange sites. But with good intentions I request you to get familiar with the philosophy of the Meta Exchange sites as a whole. The most important one is "Be welcoming, be patient, and assume good intentions. Don't expect new users to know all the rules — they don't. And be patient while they learn." Read more here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/240839/…
    – Ravindra S
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 5:41
  • @steelerfan There are many other Q&A sites where you can go and ask a question. Why do you think we should stop new users from going to other places? Of course, I agree we need to create a welcoming environment, but we don't welcome certain types of question including yours. You can ask it on other sites. That's my point. If you want to go, go. Nobody is asking you to stay / leave or not to go. It's entirely up to you.
    – Rathony
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 6:51
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    @PaleBlueDot What makes you think I am not familiar with the philosophy of the Stack Exchange sites? Is my answer rude? Is my answer offensive? Since the OP doesn't seem to know how things work here, I gave some advice. That's all.
    – Rathony
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 6:54
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    "When new users get discouraged by that, they should understand why their question is off-topic. If they don't like it here, they can go" - I felt this was rude. Because this is what exactly the OP is doing - trying to understand why his/her question is off-topic and what can he/she do to improve it. (My comment isn't for your answer)
    – Ravindra S
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 6:59
  • First of all, I'd encourage everyone here to please calm down a little. I don't think any comment left here is in any way "rude or offensive". I think, even while maybe deviating a little on the details, all the users commenting here have quite a good grip on how SE works and I don't question anyone's motivation for improving the site and helping new users, neither do I think anyone tried to just scare away a new user without helping him to understand what doesn't work with his question and how he could improve. So much to that.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 10:52
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    That being said, after finally checking the actual question, it is indeed a quite interesting, well-phrased and fruitful question. The bigger problem I see with it is not so much that it is entirely opinionated, which I don't think it really is that much. If anything, I'd say it is just way too broad in its current form. I don't say it's off-topic here, but it's topic might fit better to English Language Learners, even though I'm afraid it might be too broad for them, too. So maybe you could concentrate a little more on specific aspects of your request, and try to make them a little less subjective.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


I agree with the heart of Napoleon Wilson's comment that your question is a good one, well written, and ultimately too broad. The big concept I see in your question is: How do I effectively use movies as a method to learn and/or improve mastery of spoken English? That is a big topic. I would suggest you break up the question into more bite sized chunks regardless of if you choose here or another place to ask your question. If I were going to do that here are some potential questions I'd consider asking:

  • Are subtitles detrimental to learning a spoken language by watching movies?
  • If I want to learn how to speak another language should the subtitles be in my native language or the other language?
  • To improve my comprehension of a foreign language should I rewatch the same film many times or watch many films only once or twice?
  • What is the best way to know if I don't understand something in a foreign film without subtitles because it is supposed to be a mystery to the viewer or if I missed/misunderstood an important bit of dialogue?
  • Does the linearity of the story affect my ability to learn a foreign language while watching the movie?
  • Is it best to just focus on foreign films with the same accent or should I diversify so my ear is less sensitive to differing pronunciation/accents when using films to learn a language?
  • etc...

I'm sure not all of those sample questions are gold, but they illustrate that there can be many different approaches and considerations when learning a foreign language via films. I think the best your current question could hope for is something so general that it isn't very helpful and/or subjective anecdotes.

For example my answer to you question would be along the lines of start with action movies that don't rely much on dialogue, next move to action comedies because the action will anchor you and jokes are often surprisingly complex linguistically, and then move onto more dialogue based movies like dramas (pretty general advice that says start with Dick and Jane before attempting Jane Austen). Also I'd recommend against subtitles because I personally find that they become a crutch to me (subjective anecdote).

All that being said, if your written English, which appears to be excellent, is anywhere near your spoken English I think you'd be fine watching any English language movie you want without subtitles. If you miss something you can always pause and rewind or just watch the entire movie again. Good luck in your endeavor!


How can I improve my question? Is it even salvageable?

I am sorry to say this, but there is no way you can improve your question as it is not salvageable. I am not a native English speaker, either, but I know which film or drama to watch to improve my English. The answer to your question is those which are easy to watch with more standard accent than some dialects, relatively slower speed of speech, with not many slangs nor many technical jargons, etc.

All the answers to your questions will be primarily opinion-based, e.g., some might say watching movies with subtitles is a bad idea, and some might say it is a good idea. Also, some will say rewatching a movie is a good idea and some might say watching a new movie is better.

How do I draw the line for this question of being too personal and only about me?

Well, SE is not a discussion forum and it seeks to build a library of definitive answers, NOT primarily opinion-based answers. If you don't think your question can get some definitive answers with some relevant research and references, don't ask that question. If you expect answers with "I think X is better than Y", "I think Z is the best", don't ask that question.

"invite sharing experiences over opinions" seems to be exactly what my question is doing.

You need to note that one question per post is the guideline of Stack Exchange. You asked a total of 6 questions that seek others' advice or recommendation.

How do I decide which movies to watch?

I don't know. I usually watch well-rated and Academy or Golden Globe-awarded drama or thriller to improve my English. G-rated films are easier to understand than R-rated films because target audience is different. Of course, which movie to watch will entirely depend on your proficiency.

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    "How can an answer be short and intended to share experiences over opinions?" they are not supposed to. Let me again quote the help center "Constructive subjective questions: […] tend to have long, not short, answers". Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 10:17
  • @unknownstuntman I am not arguing against your idea and help center guideline, I am just saying your question is off-topic.
    – Rathony
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 10:18
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    "You asked a total of 6 questions." That is a bit of an oversimplification. Yes, there are 6 sentences in my post (or even more) that end with a question mark, but there's still one question to answer. If I remember correctly, stackexchange appreciates to add context to a question and what effort has been undertaken. I added that in the form of questions I asked myself and to give answerers a starting point. I guess I should rephrase those to exclude the question marks so that users that rigourously scan for those in questions do not get too hung up about them. Thank you for that suggestion Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 10:26
  • @unknownstuntman You already have one answer on the main board and I answered your question here (partly though). Move on.
    – Rathony
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 10:28
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    "I am not arguing against your idea and help center guideline, I am just saying your question is off-topic." Then you ignore the most part of this meta question, which is unfortunate. I was specifically asking about this. "Move one." I'd rather understand the help center article first, so that I do not ask a similar question again. Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 10:36
  • @unknownstuntman That specific Help center article is as subjective as it gets and nobody can clearly explain what it is supposed to mean. I have already explained in my answer, if your question seeks others' opinion, don't ask. Don't ask this kind of question on any SE. They will be closed.
    – Rathony
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 10:38

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