EDIT Simplification of the post.
Not intending to change its current "declined" status, just to facilitate the understanding of the suggestion
The request is to allow content in languages other than English.
This is how it would work:
The user selects desired languages in preference tab ( default is English )
The systems shows content to that user in its preferred language(s)
When posting a question the system will mark the content with the user preferred language:
If there is only one language that would be used.
If there is more that one, the language will be prompted ( with the first language preselected )
If nobody change its preferences everything will remain the same as of today ( because English would be the default language )
No engine localization is needed, no gui translation is needed, no content translation is needed, no different domains nor auto-translate, nor volunteer translate is needed.
Only the ability of the system to filter non-interesting languages ( I don't understand a clue of Chinese or Finnish, but I could answer Spanish and English questions )
I understand and agree, English is a must have for good programmers, but StackOverflow is not only for "good programmers" but also for those who get
NullPointerException in a Hello World program.
Programming beginners may also be English beginners and they should not spend 2+ years learning English to start learning to program.
Original post follows:
First of all: I know English is the lingua franca of programming.
I know the posture of Jeff: [The Ugly American Programmer] and I know it has been discussed on [podcast 48]
Just let my do a last attempt to show an easy way to support internationalization on SO.
Reasons to support i18n:
We know that all awesome/great/decent developers use english when talking about technology, but I think SO is not only to show each other how much we know already of programming and to show we can code using butterflies and we already know all the emacs keystrokes to make a sandwich.
StackOverflow should be also for those who doesn't know why the following throws a NullPointerException
String a = null; a.toString(); // doh!!
And it turns out that ( at least in my country ) people who is learning to program is also learning english.
If the condition to access a great resource such as SO is to have the innocent to take first a 2 yrs English course seems unreasonable.
Objection to support i18n
The most important issue with SO i18n is the visual noise this would create.
And of course I don't like to see Japanese questions in my front page If I don't know japanese at all!! or Russian, or Icelandic or Swahili for that matter.
In the same way, I don't want non Spanish speakers to see my questions and translate them, downvote them and close them ( as it happened with my very first post in this site )
So how to achieve SO i18n?
The same way I don't see Visual-Basic questions in first place. By using the ignored tags feature, we could filter/show q/a in different languages.
A bit of tweaking is needed in the current tag mechanisms. But I don't think it is impossible.
A language meta-tag could be added to the system. By default everyone's will be English
Of course and it should not count toward the 5 tag limit on questions ( hence meta ).
The "ignore-tag+hide tag" will be enabled to all users by default for this meta-tag. That way a English-only speaker won't notice the change at all ever, if he doesn't add more languages in it's preferences.
While posting the default langauge meta-tag will be added to the question with the possibility to change to another in the user profile. ( If there's only one language in the user profile the option is not shown as of today. If more than one lang is available something like the following may appear at the bottom:
Tags: [ ] Combine multiple words into single-words, etc. etc Language: [English][x] // combo here! Change the question default language.
Aaaand that it!. Web2.0 internationalization instantaneously!! User will post/answer in their preferred language
There is no need to translate the web site it self ( most of the directions are easy to understand or the simply interface of StackOverflow will lead them ) At most a SO-FAQ autogenerated by the own community will explain things as Community-Wiki etc. But in general terms there is no need to change the "Users/Tags/Badges/" etc for the content which is the relevant topic here will shown in the prefered lang.
There are other proposals as have community translate the questions but this is a terrible idea because it creates a lot of noise.
I think some [SO-Clones] show up in first place for this need.
If those are not good reasons then think about this:
Why limit SO to have english only ads when it could have ads for any language ;)