There are several localized versions of Stack Overflow: Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, and Japanese. I guess there will be more languages supported in the future.

This brings up a big question for me. Is it OK to pick any given question in the English Stack Overflow, translate it and repost it in a different language Stack Overflow site?

Obviously there will be a lot of duplicated questions about simple topics like:

How to concatenate two strings in X language?

But is it allowed to pick an answer from the English (or any other language in the future) site and completely translate it? Furthermore are we allowed to repost translated questions? For example, can I entirely translate Stack Overflow's most upvoted question and repost it in the Portuguese version?


4 Answers 4


Is it OK to pick a random question in the English Stack Overflow, translate it and repost it in a different language Stack Overflow site?

As a general method of wholesale seeding a new site with content: No. This should be a universal rule for the Portuguese site and any other international sites that may follow.

  • The long-standing (unspoken?) rule has been that you should generally ask questions that arise out of a specific problem that you are facing.

  • Seeding a site with translated questions would decrease users' motivation to answer. When a question is asked, the general idea is that there is a real person who needs that answer, and you're helping them.

    Even though Stack Overflow is supposed to be about building a canonical archive of questions and answers, and not only benefit the asker, the two go hand in hand.

  • A translated question does not benefit its original author; nor can the author respond to questions for clarification, implement improvement suggestions, nor accept the answer they feel is the most correct.

  • The SO.pt community should take a long hard look whether it wants to allow trivial questions that do little more than clog search results in the first place. There should be no community incentive to copy all that crap from SO.English, in my opinion.

  • 8
    While I generally agree, I would be less absolute. I agree with you regarding picking a random question. But I think it would be fine to ask-and-answer a frequently asked question by translating the one among the thousands of duplicates that has the best answer. Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 15:11
  • @Gilles yeah. Edited for clarity
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 15:12
  • 2
    The translated answer also does not benefit the person who originally wrote the answer. If I put a lot of effort into an answer, and then someone else gets a lot of credit (reputation points) for it, at least I wouldn't be terribly happy about that. Community Wiki might reduce the impact of that, but has other problems.
    – user
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 15:47
  • 4
    @MichaelKjörling Translating content effectively is hard. Rewarding someone for both doing a good job of choosing what to translate, and translating the content effectively, seems entirely warranted in my eyes. Of course, that's assuming they put the time and effort into a quality translation. Someone who just runs it through Google Translate will have a poor quality question, and the votes (should) reflect that.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 15:56
  • Self answered questions don't fit these rules and have been accepted. Admittedly they usually arise from a problem I just encountered and solved, but still Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 16:03
  • @Servy that's a good point, but the problems, to me, still outweigh the benefits. There should be rules for when a a question is already well answered on another language site - those it maybe should be allowed to translate, while giving attribution. But artificially generating questions? Feels like a bad idea to me.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 16:18
  • @Pëkka In my eyes it's mostly up to the community to effectively judge the content and only upvote it if it is valuable content, worth having translated, not already readily accessible, and to which the translation itself is well done. That might be overly optimistic, but if the community can get to a point where doing this only results in upvotes at time where the community really benefits, then it'd be far more effective than any attempt at policing and artificially disallowing questions would be.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 16:23
  • Quote from Gabe's blog post: "Oh, and do not worry if your question is already on the site in English". Could be a bad translation, I seriously doubt it :) This ought to be sorted out by their own meta, I'd say. Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 22:37
  • @Uphill there is arguably a difference between asking a question you want to ask again in Portuguese, and picking questions on the English site at random and replicating them elsewhere just for the purpose of creating content, though. But I guess you're right, that will be sorted on their Meta before any official rule comes out
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 23:13
  • Hi guys, 1. May I develop exact(site structure, functionality, a little design) like stackexchange.com sites in Uzbek language with SpringMVC. 2. If yes, Where should I put logo of stackexchange.com (sites) in my site. Also, I'm going to translate this sites posts through rules of lisence. Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 18:26
  • I’m not quite sure why “benefiting the original author” is necessary. If someone takes content from SO, binds it into a book, and sells it on Amazon (with appropriate attribution) the author of the question is not expected to see royalties from that. Attribution is absolutely required and that may lead some to vote on the original question but there’s no expectation of benefits.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 14:21
  • @Catija "benefit the original author" in this context = get the asker the answers they need. If someone takes my question and translates it to Russian and Russian SO provides excellent answers I won't be able to read them, and while I might get lucky by asking someone nice in comments to translate it for me, there is no process in place for getting them translated back into the original language
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 17:39

Yes, the cc-by-sa license on Stack Overflow does allow for this, as long as you give the proper attribution.

Whether the Portuguese site actually wants you to do this is a better question for their own Meta.

If you really mean "random question", the answer is almost certainly "no! please no! why?!?!?!". If you mean "some very good SO question with great answers I'm also going to translate", the answer might possibly shade toward the maybe/yes zone.


It's totally fine to translate QA during initial seeding if:

  • The answer is one of the best on SO. Not just upvoted for being funny, but actually high-quality valuable answer that is used by many people every day.

  • The answer is going to be used as a duplicate target. No matter what programming site you're on, you'll have to deal with NullableReferenceException, so it's better to be prepared.

I translated NRE and floating point QA for RuSO, others translated use strict and git reset, all questions are at the top, so I consider the experiment successful.

There's also an experimental tool for associating translated/related questions, but looks like it's been abandoned...


Why not just point them to the english link, and tell them to use google translate on the page?

  • 30
    Because the translations often come out pretty terrible. That's the reason for creating other language sites in the first place. If that was generally effective then there'd be no reason to have any other language sites at all.
    – Servy
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 15:41
  • 2
    Point whom to the English link? Are you suggesting OP post a "question" on PSO in Portuguese suggesting that people reading the question might want to go to some random SO question and translate it with Google Translate? :/
    – Wooble
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 15:59
  • 2
    If you suggest people use Google translate, you've likely never had to use it in earnest. :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 30, 2014 at 17:39
  • Try to translate anything to your native language, you will se that the machine transation is still catastrophal. Maybe between English and some quite similar language (f.e. Dutch) it is so or so usable.
    – peterh
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 23:51
  • This answer was wrong in 2014, but now it's six years later. I wonder how much the quality of automatic translations has improved in that time. Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 10:40

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