I have come across this answer which may answer the question, but why on Earth would the answerer provide their solution in French? Meanwhile, the question is in English and I see no request for a French answer, there is an accepted answer with 7 upvotes and a duplicate one. I mean, if all of us start providing answers in different languages, SO would become a mess. Shouldn't some language guidelines be followed?

I went to investigate other answers of the user who answered and it seems that his other answers are a bit irrelevant to the questions. I am not a C# expert so I shouldn't really judge, but those answers are low-quality (can't bear the truth).

I have flagged the answer for moderator's attention, giving a custom reason, but I'm not sure that's the right thing to do.

It's a bit of a strange case, so I would appreciate any advice on what to do in such cases?

Related: If an answer contains both English and Non-English answers to the question should the Non-English portion be removed?

Related 2: Is it allowed to use non-English language in comment/answer?

  • 5
    Meh, the Excel case is a bit tricky with its language translations of functions. I can't entirely blame users for showing the code that works for them. (And subsequently thinking they've contributed something new) But I left a comment for the author.
    – Bart
    Sep 5, 2013 at 8:48
  • @Bart that's a great comment you've left. I have seen 90% of the Q&A for the last 6 months related to excel and haven't really come across a non-english question or answer unless it was stated within the Q or A itself
    – user221081
    Sep 5, 2013 at 8:50
  • @Bart the only reason I am not certain he thought it was new/useful is because he intentionally mentioned "Excel in French". Sep 5, 2013 at 8:58
  • @psubsee2003 yeah, I saw that. Benefit of the doubt. You might know it's French, but not know the translation is LEN
    – Bart
    Sep 5, 2013 at 9:01
  • @mehow For the other posts (not the French one), he's been around for 10 months and answered a few questions in the first couple of months and then several in the last month. None of his answers are stellar, and some are just related as you suggested. A few are just code without an explanation. My guess is he is someone who is trying to get some started and earn some rep, but doesn't really get it. Either he will learn or he won't, so I don't think it is a major issue. Sep 5, 2013 at 9:07
  • I agree @psubsee2003. It's not a major issue but I would like to know how to act in that situation; add a comment? flag for moderators attention or just not bother at all? What's the right thing to do without getting anyone upset?
    – user221081
    Sep 5, 2013 at 9:12
  • 1
    @mehow educating the user on what constitutes a good answer by leaving a comment might be helpful. That is usually preferable to a flag in most cases since a mod is going only be able to do the same thing. Sep 5, 2013 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


Not to be English-speaking-elitist, but aren't the majority of the users English speakers?

Some declare that English isn't their first language in posts, so sometimes badly worded posts are tolerated (i.e. edited but not flagged), which is fine.

Most programming languages are American English anyway (forcing us Brits to use color without the 'u', for example, but we suck it up and deal with it), so the evidence/blurb surrounding the code should be in English as well.

The point of this site is to help as many people as possible, and to give solutions to those with the same problems. If an answer is in another language, it severely distorts the window of potential users that the solution can help, thus ruining the purpose of providing an answer on this site in the first place.

The example you mention is puzzling, why would the user provide a french solution if there was no mention of french in the question? Bizarre.

There are also several Area51 proposals for SO in different languages, so other languages should stick to those sites (when/if they hit beta).

So, in answer to your question, I'd flag it.
The chances that a French answer will help a future user is considerably smaller than the chances of an English answer helping a future user.

I wouldn't just flag it and leave though, that's not my style, I'd let the user know that answers are preferred in English and the reasons why.
As a policeman once told me when he pulled me over for speeding - "It's not just about enforcement, it's also about education".

If the user modifies the question and re-writes it in English prior to the moderator looking at it, then there's no harm, no foul on anybody's part.