Is there any restriction as to what languages are allowed in SE chat rooms? I have seen many people speak in German, Russian or French in the English Language & Usage chat room, but whenever I speak in Persian (to a friend who understands me), some people start nagging that I should only speak in English! In a recent case, one of my chat messages was removed by a moderator because somebody flagged it as non-English!

Is there really any rule that restricts the spoken languages in chat rooms? If not, based on what rule was my message removed by a moderator?

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    Related: Is English required on Stack Overflow? Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:34
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    Well, in that specific room, many users speak Russian when I'm perfectly aware of the fact that only one or two can understand. This is the second time we ran into trouble for communicating in Persian without any logical reasons.
    – Gigili
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 19:02
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    @Gigili: I think Shog9 articulated well the problem and distinguishing feature: "chat is not a venue for private discussion". The instances that are being complained about look like a private conversation (in some other language inaccessible to most). The instances of Russian/German/whatever that were not flagged were never 'private discussion', they were clever word play (on non-informative) that anybody could at least attempt to figure out. But if the use of some foreign language seems exclusive to you (even if it could be explained away like I think I did), then you probably should flag it.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 0:05
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    @Mitch: It wasn't a private conversation, why would we mention it in public otherwise? It was only two line that I asked and Meysam replied. I don't see any difference between this and those "clever word plays". I also don't see any reason to flag it and remove it (gasp) other than "hey, I want to know what you are talking about but Google translate is not helping".
    – Gigili
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 0:10
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    I agree with Gigi: I was there, I don't understand Persian, but it didn't seem a problem to me, because it was only a few lines. Prolonged conversations, no. A few lines, no problem. And the right approach in case of a longer conversation would be to nicely ask people to speak English, not to flag it immediately. If they refused to stop and they were going on for some time, then would be the time to either ignore them or flag if it really bothers you. Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 0:28
  • @Gigili: I myself feel that the 'flagging' response in this case was way too strong a reaction. But ... hmmm... they thought it was 'flaggable' and there are good supporting arguments for it. I don't want to encourage retaliatory flagging, but if you find instances of language (obscene, foreign, inappropriate) that you don't like, then it should be flagged.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 0:39

3 Answers 3


The short answer is: whatever language the other folks present in the room are comfortable speaking.

All else being equal, if you jump into a room and start posting stuff that isn't understandable to the majority of the users there, you're probably going to get some pushback. And as a practical matter, if those moderating the room (moderators, owners, 10k users) can't understand what you're saying, it stands a good chance of being deleted.

Long answer: chat is not a venue for private discussion, and most of these sites are dedicated to English-speaking content

There is no private messaging feature available to Stack Exchange users. Therefore, using a language that only you and one other person in a room understand is actually a bad thing purely based on the rules of the site. (Read the linked discussion for all the reasons for why that rule is in place)

But beyond that, the sites themselves are dedicated to English-language content, and Chat exists primarily to support them. With the exception of chat rooms associated with specific, non-English language sites, the majority of content in Chat should also be in English. I could see making exceptions to this in a few (specific and hopefully rare) scenarios, but by and large we're not set up to support moderating conversations in languages that the moderators, the SE staff, and the majority of users on the site do not understand. When there's any doubt as to the appropriateness of a conversation (for instance: it gets flagged) and it can't be understood, it should be deleted.

  • Aren't there some chat rooms associated with SO that are specifically for non-English purposes? (I'm not sure though; I've never got time enough left in the day to spend in chat here…) Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 21:06
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    @Donal: there are in fact a lot of rooms on chat.SO where, depending on the time of day, you'll find various odd mixtures of English and... Uh, something else. I deleted one the other day after receiving a complaint about it and finding "shhh - the mods are watching" as the only legible English. This tends to be how it works in practice - until someone raises a problem, no one proactively blocks this.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 21:11
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    Can't reiterate the point about not using a different language to carry on a private conversation in plain view. If you do that, you'll likely get flagged into a chat suspension. Remember, intentionally excluding everyone else in a room from the conversation you're having with another is very rude and you should not do it (since this keeps coming up).
    – user50049
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 12:19

Per the FAQ, I'm not finding any rule explicitly barring different languages from being spoken in chat. However, English is the de facto language of Stack Overflow, so one should be expected to contribute/participate in that language.


There isn't any such restriction, but each community can have their own policies.

The other languages you mentioned are probably well known to many users on EL&U, who communicate in them for practice/fun.

On the other hand, maybe there aren't enough folks who speak Persian for a Persian message to be of any use. A large enough chunk of the community ought to be able to participate. Furthermore, it may be impossible to moderate such messages when nobody can verify their nature.

Basically, what's the point of posting in Persian if nobody's listening?

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    Updated the question. I never speak to myself. I always speak to someone that understands me.
    – B Faley
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 17:32
  • Besides the fact that there are only two speakers of Persian in ELU, my personal feeling was that it was inappropriate because nobody could plug it into Google translate and get a rough idea of what was said.
    – user176326
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 20:47
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    @mey "large enough chunk" is not two users Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 0:17
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    @ManishEarthwantsmorewaffles neither is three users!
    – B Faley
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 4:50
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    @mey aah. Then, like I said, it's"each community can have their own policies". :\ Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 9:46

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