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I encounter a number of questions where the question starts with a disclaimer asking to be excused for their poor English etc..This is actually redundant because the post will anyway be reviewed and the mistakes corrected.

My dilemma is that while reviewing such posts, should I delete that disclaimer as it is anyway being reviewed or should I leave it alone. From SO's perspective, it doesn't make any sense to retain such disclaimers as the question has been reviewed and polished.

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Let the user that actually fixed the post remove the disclaimer. If you are not planning to correct the English in the post, don't just add another edit to the posts history... –  Lix Jun 6 '13 at 9:41
    
Yes, that user would be me, when I am reviewing it. –  MightyPhynx Jun 6 '13 at 9:42
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Then go right ahead and remove it... Once the post has correct English, the disclaimer really is just noise... –  Lix Jun 6 '13 at 9:43

3 Answers 3

up vote 21 down vote accepted

If you are going to make an edit to the post, clean up the English, make it more readable.

At that point, remove the disclaimer as it no longer adds anything useful.

Arguably it never did, except make people a bit more tolerant for spelling and grammar issues, but if those are fixed, it is no longer relevant.

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Thats what I figured but I am new here and was wondering if people would take offence if I veered from correcting mistakes to making content changes. Just wanted to clarify –  MightyPhynx Jun 6 '13 at 9:44
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@rusticbit - It is not content germane to the question. In a similar manner, we edit out salutations (Hi, Thanks etc...) –  Oded Jun 6 '13 at 9:56
    
Arguably, the original disclaimer invites editing from better English speakers. This interpretation conveys some utility to the disclaimer, even if it would be better stated as a direct invitation to clean up the English. Of course, this is moot after editing appropriately, as you've argued. –  Nick Stauner Mar 7 '14 at 11:02

Removing disclaimers, salutations, "thank you in advance", signatures, and similar should all be done as part of an edit to tidy up the post. They're not substantive content changes, they're fluff-removal, and very much to be encouraged as part of a comprehensive clean-up edit.

The caveat about changing content applies specifically to deterring people from changing the fundamental meaning of the question: edits should clarify what the question was all along, making it easier for others to understand and to answer. Whereas if an edit were to change what a right answer would actually be, then that would be an undesirable content edit.

There is one type of disclaimer that should be kept in: any disclosure by the OP of a connection to something they are linking to: so if they are linking to their own blog, say, and have said so, then that disclosure should not be removed.

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I can understand, and agree, that "removing" such noise type of phrases about "I'm not native English ..." is indeed a good approach to cleanup questions, etc. However, how about adding these SE features:

  1. Within the user profile, provide an optional field where people can specify "the language they learned on their mother's knee" (or any variation of that), if left blank then English is assumed. Followed by let's say 7 extra optional fields in which they can specify their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc language (in my case 4 such field would be sufficient).

  2. Within the rectangle to display a user's reputation, image, optional moderator diamond, etc, also include a 2 char indicator for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd language, followed with some "..." indication if the 4th or more language indicator was completed also.

Using this approach, you'd achieve multiple benefits:

  • You can SEE what language somebody is familiar with, similar to how you can now get an indication of somebody's reputation.
  • Those who have multi-language skills, somehow get a chance to show so, similar to how a reputation is shown.

Moreover, this might be interesting for SE as a company also:

  • Marketeers would love to know which language they should use to display ads in the language of the user.
  • These attributes might be used in the context of user interface translations (default = like your first language, which you can swap if you want to use the SE variation in your 2nd or 3rd language.

Makes sense?

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