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Often people come here because their favourite website or app left them wondering about something unclear: a word not well explained, an exception given as a rule or viceversa, an example of nothing in particular and so on. This is OK, and is one of the reasons of existence of this site.

But I'd be tempted, in parallel with our list of resources about Italian (and perhaps as a section of that question) to put together a list of “non-resources”, that is, of sites known to be unreliable: the about.com pages, duolingo, wordreference (even if we have it among the resources), babylon-software, Italian Wikipedia, the obsolete etymology dictionary available on etimo.it, dict.cc (see here for someone deceived by it), idiommaster.com (a haphazard collection of bilingual snippets), orbilat.com (see here for a question prompted by an error there), linguee.it and so on.

Of course, it would more useful if we might explain why, or within which limits, such resources are to be taken with a large pinch of salt, perhaps collating some examples from past questions originating from such sites.

Any opinion?

  • I personally think this is impossible to actually implement and not likely to be of any practical utility. People who read low quality resources won't checklist them with whatever list we cook up. We have other windmills to tilt at. – Denis Nardin Sep 28 '16 at 14:47
  • I see your point @DenisNardin, but my idea is more of a page to refer to the umpteenth person who says “My app CompletelyMessedUpDict says that pane means ‘house’. Is that right?” As for the windmill thing, I believe that there are enough misguided learners of Italian, or simply curious people, (and enough useless websites and apps) that this might be a useful reference. – DaG Sep 28 '16 at 15:09
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    I'd support the idea - provided that you would it. :) As the closest useful thing, I'd say that it'd be great to add small remarks (in comments or in parentheses) to dubious sources in the existing list of resources. They are community answers, so anyone could edited them. If we recommend a source, but it has some limitations - we should mention those limitations. – I.M. Oct 2 '16 at 12:58
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In principle it wouldn't be a bad idea, but I think it would be too tricky to implement.

How many mistakes do we need for a source to be considered unreliable? One might be too harsh: everyone makes errors, occasionally. Five? Ten? One hundred? Do we require examples of erroneous translations? What if the webmaster of a "non-resource" fixes the mistake that we pointed out, and contacts us asking to be removed from the list? What if they get the lawyers going and sue us?

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At one level, SE sites don't like "lists" (because they tend to be somewhat random, and have a high noise to signal ratio).

On the other hand, an SE site would welcome a warning about a "popular" site that is actually unreliable. So if you have doubts about a particular site, you might want to ask a question about that site, setting forth the basis for your doubts.

Basically, SE sites prefer questions about specific instances of a problem, rather than "lists" of locations of possible problems.

Warning: I am basing my answer on my experience on numerous SE sites, and I may or may not be speaking for Italian SE.

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