Area51 has a proposal for Spanish SO.

Shouldn't this proposal be killed immediately? I mean, if this proposal were allowed to be flourished, then in no time you will see Hindi SO, Hebrew SO, Chinese SO, Dutch SO, Malay SO, Arabic SO and all the same SOes with the same set of content and same target audience except different languages.

In fact this is already happening, just see how the Turkish variant, Portuguese variant, Russia variant proposals littered over Area51 and you will get a sense of how serious the situation is. All these are huge duplication of work and contribute to a great fragmentation of audience, this is of course something SO doesn't encourage.

The longer you allow it to gain steam or even to let it gain supporters, the harder it is to kill it later. So why the mods are not taking action now and kill the proposal immediately?

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    It's worth noting that there are half a dozen or so of these language proposals lingering around, waiting to be launched. It's not just Spanish. – user206222 Jul 8 '13 at 7:32
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    "Stack Overflow in [language]" is proposed a lot of time over there. I think this post should be broader: a feature-request that "[Q&A] in [language]" no longer be allowed. – S.L. Barth Jul 8 '13 at 7:33
  • And what is the problem exactly? If there is an audience for such sites, good for them. Not everybody speaks English well enough to participate on so. – Bart Jul 8 '13 at 7:33
  • Spanish, Turkish, and Portugese are preparing for beta. Russian is almost there. (This is a factdump, not an opinion.) – michaelb958--GoFundMonica Jul 8 '13 at 7:35
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    @Bart, this is a problem because each SE site should target a different niche and different audience, not same niche with different language. – Graviton Jul 8 '13 at 7:36
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    Says who? I don't remember that being a requirement... – Bart Jul 8 '13 at 7:38
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    Shouldn't this be discussed in discuss.area51.stackexchange.com ? – Himanshu Jansari Jul 8 '13 at 7:38
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    Your first link goes to Stack Overflow in Turkish, not Spanish. – Daniel Daranas Jul 8 '13 at 7:44
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    Joel doesn't seem to think it's a problem: "Our mission is to make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your questions. Nothing about that mission says the questions have to be in English. It is our long term goal to make the Stack Exchange Network a great, planetary resource for all the world's citizens no matter what language they speak." – yannis Jul 8 '13 at 7:44
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    @DanielDaranas, link fixed. – Graviton Jul 8 '13 at 7:45
  • I seem to recall reading somewhere that the primary problem win the language proposals was translation and alternate font compatibility, but that they were working on it. Would imply they'll be launched at some point. Cannot find the reference. – user206222 Jul 8 '13 at 7:46
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    I'm not enthusiastic, for sure I wouldn't participate in the Spanish version, but I don't think they'd hurt SO much. – Daniel Daranas Jul 8 '13 at 7:58
  • Unfortunately an SO clone in Portuguese made it. – Dan Dascalescu Mar 3 '14 at 9:37
  • What is bad about this idea?? – Stormblessed Oct 15 '19 at 3:22

No. At least, not now. In fact, there are proposals for Stack Overflow in a number of languages that are basically waiting for us to implement proper localization in the engine. We want to make sure that Stack Overflow is available in languages where proficiency in English as a second language is uncommon. That's one of the reasons why we're looking for a community manager that is fluent in both English and Portuguese.

Our priority is getting Stack Overflow available in those languages, where English is an uncommon companion first. After that, we can look at the needs of other languages. We would probably not support Stack Overflow in a language where there are already many fluent speakers actively participating in English without any problems.

However, at this time, we're just not far enough into the process of fully realizing the amount of effort required to translate the interface properly once the code is in place to handle it. If you wanted Stack Overflow in Klingon, a whole lot of strings need to be translated or transliterated before we could support that - so there would need to be an appreciable number of Klingons that don't speak English and are unlikely to learn how to do so for us to consider it.

This, of course, also coincides with us not wanting to take away from a successful core site without a very good reason, but that's always been the case. For now, at least, we're not in a position of unilateral closing of translated sites until we have a much better idea of the work involved and how it wold affect the parent sites.

  • Note - by beyond code, I mean a literal spreadsheet with lots of strings like "This is off topic because" that need to be translated or transliterated properly yet remain basically the same length to fit design constraints. This is, for lack of a better word, hard; we won't know how hard until we've done it once. – Tim Post Jul 8 '13 at 8:21

I know it's not a nice thing to say, but I think many people feel similar to this: If that keeps non-english speaking folk away from SO, it's a win.

No no no no, don't get your pitchforks, let me explain. One of the bigger problems on SO is the language barrier for many new users. Despite that I consider English the language for programmers, there are many programmers out there who barely (or not at all) speak English (either because education failed them or they failed at education). That results in bad, hard to understand, duplicates and closed/deleted questions on SO, which means frustration and confusion for OP and work for users and moderators...time we'd rather have spend answering good questions.

If we allow localized variants of Stack Overflow (don't forget that they need to gain enough traction to even go into beta, so there must be users for it) we might drain a certain audience from SO, but we would most likely also drain bad questions which might be good questions in their mother tongue.

Of course this is a double-edged blade, it means we "lose" users and questions on SO (at least partially, as there will be users who participate on both sites)...but let's be honest, look at the statistics of SO:

questions   5.3m
answers     9.8m
answered    78%
users       2.2m

Hurting this community is going to need a lot.

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    I don't even think we'd lose users (to a significant extent). Those who do speak English will still come to SO. Don't underestimate the power of that site. And perhaps they will also participate on the site whose language they speak as well. I don't see those a mutually exclusive activities. Other than that I couldn't agree more. – Bart Jul 8 '13 at 7:50
  • We need to see charts of activity by country to gauge how many people this would bleed away from the main site. My guess is, it's a lot more than you'd expect. – user206222 Jul 8 '13 at 7:53
  • @Bart That's why I put lose under parentheses. But I should elaborate on that, true. – Time Traveling Bobby Jul 8 '13 at 7:54
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    Why @EmrakultheAeonsTorn? If they successfully participate on Stack Overflow, which is a huge quality resource with more activity than any proposed site is likely to have, why would a site in a different language cause an exodus? If they have a difficult time participating on an English language site, maybe, but then you'd have to wonder if it's so bad for them to find their support elsewhere. I don't see all Dutch users move to an SO in Dutch. I know I wouldn't. – Bart Jul 8 '13 at 7:55
  • In certain languages where English is logically incompatible (e.g. Chinese), I expect many users would bleed away, simply for ease of use. I imagine most Dutch programmers know English well (though I could be wrong; please correct me if I am), which is the difference. Linguistic demographics are important to consider. – user206222 Jul 8 '13 at 7:58
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    If a large section of those Chinese users has difficulty with the language, you can fret all you want about the number of visitors going down, but it might well increase the overall quality of SO, require less community support such as editing, and additionally provide that group of users with an excellent set of resources as well. I see only wins here... – Bart Jul 8 '13 at 8:01
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    That's true... I can accept that. Maybe we should look at closed questions and votes by region. This is all currently speculation. – user206222 Jul 8 '13 at 8:02

Though Jeff Atwood's opinion does not hold quite as much sway as it once did, his stance on this was clear, and I think he makes a good point: English is the lingua franca of software.

However, this does not necessarily hold true for all sites. I would not be opposed, for instance, to a Japanese culture and etiquette site in Japanese. English and software, though, go hand in hand.

As an aside, this does belong on Area 51's discussion site.

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