While reviewing Edits I came across this edit to an answer which was written in both English and Spanish: https://stackoverflow.com/posts/6961084/revisions

The only thing that the Edit did was remove the non-english portion of the answer. The editor did not indicate that the non-english portion was inaccurate, just that it was being removed simply for being non-english.

I have search around meta and found many questions pertaining to non-english posts:

What is Stack Exchange's future with non-English languages?

We need to help non-English-speakers somehow

Flagging non-English questions

Do posts have to be in English on Stack Exchange?

How should we handle non-English answers?

and the official policy from here:


Throughout many of these the consensus seems to be largely that we want the content to be in English. But I don't see anywhere that explicitly states that Non-English content is unacceptable even if an English version of the same content was supplied by the same person as is the case with the answer above.

So my question: If we find content that is posted in multiple languages should all of the Non-English content be removed just because it isn't English?

Personally I would lean towards leaving the non-english part there as long as both languages are given, the chance that it may better help someone in the future and it certainly does not hinder anyone else (since both languages were given) is enough that I feel it should be left there. I am interested to know if this is covered by the official language policy though.

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    There's not really any point, I think, since the question wasn't in Spanish, and no question should be in Spanish in the first place (see also: all the questions you linked to).
    – Ry-
    Jul 21, 2012 at 1:52
  • I read them all =) But none talk about the case in which both languages were presented. I would argue that the point is that it might help someone some day, and it does not hinder anyone else in the meantime. In other words there is the potential for reward with no possibility of risk.
    – FoamyGuy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 2:18
  • I certainly find it more than a little messy. It's kind of like signatures: they don't technically hurt anyone, but they're still not something we keep, and for good reason.
    – Ry-
    Jul 21, 2012 at 2:23
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    but signatures don't generally have the possibility of helping someone.
    – FoamyGuy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 2:24
  • I don't think keeping random translations of answers around does either. First of all, since the question is not in that language, then a person looking for an answer to that question in his or her own language will not find that answer in the first place. What's more, the odds of the language of the searcher matching the extra language supplied are fairly small. Soon, it turns into providing all the languages on everything, which is messy and makes editing harder, which is what Stack Overflow is all about.
    – Ry-
    Jul 21, 2012 at 2:26
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    Best just to leave it up to Google Translate, even if the translations aren't always 100% accurate. Or better, to learn English, because you get access to a lot more Stack Overflow answers, and more of programming in general (see again: other questions). Yes, that's completely serious.
    – Ry-
    Jul 21, 2012 at 2:28
  • I see your points, and I do agree that it is a very minute chance. I also see that the messiness factor is perhaps the hindrance that I claimed it to not have. I don't personally find it particularly messy but I can see why some would. Thanks for the clarifications.
    – FoamyGuy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


Personally I would lean towards leaving the non-english part there as long as both languages are given, the chance that it may better help someone in the future and it certainly does not hinder anyone else (since both languages were given) is enough that I feel it should be left there.

In this specific case, I think the answerer posted the Spanish version since he didn't have confidence in the English one. The user that edited the Spanish version out should also have fixed the English version, in my opinion.

In general, I don't think that posting an answer in more than one language is advisable or even helpful. If we post all answers in both English and Spanish, fine. But if every user randomly posts answers in a couple of languages, that will just create a whole lot of noise without helping more than 1% of the user base. If the question was written in English, maybe even less.

For example, I'm more or less fluent in English, Spanish and German. If multilingual answers are allowed, I might as well post mine in all three. Another answerer now posts his answer in English and Arabic, another one in English and Russian and yet another one in English and Thai.

The post is now effectively messed up: The high signal-to-noise ratio that sets SO apart from other Q&A sites and internet forums dropped well below 50%, and we have only covered 5 languages of the oh-so-many that might actually help a future visitor.

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    Good points, I failed to follow it through that far in my head. Thanks for you input.
    – FoamyGuy
    Jul 21, 2012 at 14:51
  • I agree with this answer in that a question should be posted in one language and should be answered only in that language. However, I do think it's a bit elitist to restrict questions and answers to English only; that's essentially enforcing that the English-speaking majority is superior to the non-English speakers. To my mind, getting rid of the Spanish section in preference for the English is no better than getting rid of the English in preference for the Spanish. Mar 9, 2014 at 16:49
  • @NigelNquande: Stack Overflow is a Q&A site, not a help forum. The questions and their answers are supposed to help a lot of people, not just the person who asked the question. As such, we cannot allow questions in just any language. The site would become a rather unholy mess; the search function would return mostly unreadable results. I don't think there's anything elitist about it. The founders of Stack Overflow just happen to speak English...
    – Dennis
    Mar 9, 2014 at 18:55
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    Note that there are proposals for Stack Overflow in Portuguese, Spanish and a few other languages. Stack Overflow em Português is already live, the Spanishversion should follow soon.
    – Dennis
    Mar 9, 2014 at 18:56
  • Well, I don't think there's anything elitist about it, either, but not everyone shares that opinion, so I've got to take that into account. Mar 9, 2014 at 19:12

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