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It would be nice if on Stack Overflow, questions and answers were flagged with some text that explained that the author is not a native English speaker.

Something like this:

[italian flag, in my case] Feel free to correct this message, that is written by a non native English speaker.

The quality of the content on Stack Overflow would become much better, and search results more accurate.

Language editors should be rewarded with some kind of badge, and non-native English speakers would learn how to write better English!

In the meantime, "feel free to correct THIS message".

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3 Answers 3

Something like this is already in place, even for anybody!

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… and if you are below 2000 reputation, you are even rewarded for it, which is an encouragement too.

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Of course, this means that your edit will be placed in a queue, and it will have to be peer reviewed to be approved first – but if you are confident enough that you can fix bad English, I'm sure nobody will reject your edit if they saw you wanted to contribute. If those edits are rejected, feel free to bring up an issue here, on Meta.


I think a message such as the one you propose would be much too intrusive. The reasons are:

  • If you see bad/wrong English, you'll edit it anyway, regardless of the OP being Italian, Chinese, French, Klingon, or even British or U.S.-American. Just edit it!

  • Having a flag displayed next to every post would, in my opinion, encourage discrimination against users of certain countries. And while on Stack Exchange, everybody is nice to each other™, I still have a weird feeling about this.

  • Even if this message were optional, why would your posts need more edit attention than others? Of course, I'm happy if people are open to edits and say: "I'm glad you fixed my English!", or if they admit that they have difficulties with the language, but the whole point of a community-edited site (with no restrictions in this regard) is that anybody should edit anywhere if they feel like it.

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I don't think point 2 is valid. As for point 3, there are restrictions. You need 2k rep to edit. You can only suggest edits if you have less than 2k. –  NullUserException อ_อ Oct 9 '11 at 17:03
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@NullUserException I know, it's just a feeling, personal opinion. Point 3: Yes, but where's the difference? Nobody rejects edits that fix poor English, do they? –  slhck Oct 9 '11 at 17:09
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@NullUserExceptionஇ_இ do you see any problem with suggested edits? I ask because I use them quite a lot (got Strunk & White at SO) and to me things appear to work like a charm. The only minor thing I see is that these aren't explicitly stated in the slhck's answer –  gnat Oct 10 '11 at 7:29
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@gnat I added it to my answer and hope this makes it clearer. –  slhck Oct 10 '11 at 8:54

I don't think it particularly matters if poor writing is written by a native English speaker or not. We do have a series of badges that apply to editing and these should be sufficient to encourage it.

It might be helpful, though, to allow people to choose to indicate (other than by comment), that they are a non-native speaker and would like help in improving their writing. It could also help people be somewhat less abrasive in comments if they knew that the poor writing had some other cause than pure ineptitude. I usually find it pretty obvious when that's the case but I also don't tend to go off on people because of poor language.

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> I usually find it pretty obvious when that's the case but I also don't tend to go off on people because of poor language – Exactly, and I haven't even seen that anywhere yet. Either people fix the post themselves, or they shouldn't complain. –  slhck Oct 9 '11 at 17:17

I think it should be up to the author to include something like this.

And there are already badges for editing questions (Strunk & White, Copy Editor). I don't see how useful it would be to have a separate badge for "language edits."

Regardless, I already feel free to edit posts with broken English.

Brazilian Flag Chinese Flag Spanish Flag Feel free to correct this post. It was written by a non-native English speaker.

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