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Wikipedia is quite older than Stack Exchange. There may be many versions of Wikipedia because of the amount of languages, but each article in a language is connected to those in other languages. Should we follow Wikipedia about translations? Anyhow, our reputation system has to be added to it. Here are a few ideas on it.

As there are flagging/editing and reviewing features, there could be a linking feature that would allow users to suggest linking questions between sites of different languages.

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Maybe even for separate but related sites this feature could exist (as TFD suggested below).

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And while translating questions, a link could be added right away (say, resulting in +2 for the OP immediately, unless someone flags the link... ...but I diverge):

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Of course there would be another set of requirements for this kind of reviewer, like having above 500 reputation in both sites. I can already imagine a bunch of badges related to this, here are some hypothetical ones:

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Although the reviwer-related badges could be the same. They would just be more distributed, as there would be a Linking category in the reviews.

To be fair, and reward the person whose post got translated/linked for making a post worthy of it, maybe the original author should also be rewarded with +2 per post, and +1 per upvote (if linked as identical, not similar). Or badges. Or both.

I've been thinking about this for a while (months), and found that this is a real problem. What do you think about this? What system would you find appropriate?

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    I'm not convinced there is a big enough use case but the idea is definitely interesting. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Feb 16 '14 at 22:18
  • @BenjaminGruenbaum, maybe not now, but Area51 keeps giving us new language-specific sites, and somting must be, at least, thought of, ASAP. – JMCF125 Feb 16 '14 at 22:23
  • The badge and points for linking should be dropped, no need for it. People just vote on answers as normal – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 22:37
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Sounds good

We already flag questions as duplicate, how about allowing "linked" across languages and sites

e.g. Question "pr.stackoverflow.com/javascript evento se perde" links to "stackoverflow.com/javascript event gets lost" the same way duplicate questions get flagged, but without it getting closed. Then the different language users could use online translation or friends to help if no decent answers are provided for their native language questions?

This should work between similar sites too, e.g. a SQL question on stackoverflow.com could exist on data.stackexchange.com, but sometimes the boundry is not clear. Duplicate questions could be linked to help with that

Cross site or cross language links should be displayed distinctly at the bottom of the question if the edit has been reviewed and approved

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Stack Overflow aims to be a wiki of sorts, with one specific question per specific issue. It totally makes sense to have that one high-quality question (plus related answers) available in multiple languages. I think this is a great suggestion.

I might even go as far as to suggest making a translate feature, where one can take a high-quality question and translate it and its best answers into other languages. This in addition to linking to pre-existing questions.

  • I was thinking about such a feature, but then I though one could use the usual system and then link the questions together. Not sure whether this would be fair to the askers/answerers in the original language. – JMCF125 Feb 16 '14 at 22:53
  • @JMCF125 Hmm, I see. Maybe it's an idea to keep a reference to the original question in case it's directly translated. Either as part of the linking system, or just in the text, as common courtesy. – Reinstate Monica Feb 16 '14 at 22:58
  • Of course. But the problem I see here, if any at all, would be that the people who know a lot of languages gain a lot of reputation just by translating questions and answers others took the time to make. And I'm not sure whether that "rep farming" is appropriate, unlike other so-called "rep farming" where the answerer actually creates and not only writes/translates an answer. – JMCF125 Feb 17 '14 at 9:59
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I am a big fan of multi-language sites. And I think this implementation would be stellar.

...just not for SE.

I see three major issues with this implementation:

  1. Translated questions/answers aren't vetted by the community
  2. The value of having a translated version isn't apparent
  3. Maintenance becomes a nightmare

If this implemented, I think it should be done in a different way/format.

No Vetting

So there's this super highly viewed question. There are over a million views on that sucker, and 35 answers. Right now the question 'works' because the voting indicates which answers are most useful. If you translate that, suddenly you have a mess of 35 different answers to what (appears to be) a very straightforward question.

So if you translate this question on to another site, how do you decide which answers to translate? If you translate them all, there is a mess of answers with no indication of which is going to be helpful (which negates the concept of SE as a repository of answers to questions without having to sort through the chaff). If you translate only some, what happens if the library/language/version has been changed and a newer answer is actually better than the old highly voted ones? You lose valuable signal. While comments should always be edited in to the post, there is a chance that a comment makes the answer useful in the end.

What is the Value of Translating Content?

Most questions/answers are not canonical. What is the value of translating this question for instance? At least the previous question about checking if a checkbox is checked has a lot of widespread appeal -- this one is likely to be useless to a majority of people (and how would you even find it in the first place?).

The same applies to linking to similar questions. If I see a Portuguese version of that question, would it really be of any benefit to link the two together? I could see this being an added layer of frustration where you go to a question, see no answer in your language, go to the linked question in a foreign language and find it no more useful than the one you were just reading.

Without some way of ensuring the linking/translating the content provides added value, creating an incentive to do it (through badges or otherwise) will add more noise rather than more signal.

Maintenance

Not to mention that maintenance becomes a nightmare. If I translate/link a question, and then one of the languages gets a substantial edit or update, what do we do with the other? What happens if one gets closed? What happens if the answers on the two are dramatically different? What happens if the authors of each end up having different problems, or selecting different answers?

SO has enough trouble maintaining the content in English alone due to volume. By increasing the amount of content by including other languages, while reducing the capabilities to maintain it by restricting that maintenance to bilingual folk, the problem would just be made worse. Any suggestion that deals with multiple languages should have some pretty fancy tools included to make maintenance far less painless than it would be with the current methods of maintaining info.

Workarounds

If you see good content on SO that isn't available on Portuguese.SO, then go ahead and create a self-answered question sharing that content. Make sure the translation matches all the important keywords, properly attribute the post, and then you've worked to make that content available in another language.

If you see content that is related, feel free to link that in a comment. Giving people the ability to find (and voluntarily translate) answers may be useful, but doesn't need a special feature.

Good content will always float to the top. You have the tools available already to link things back and forth. If there is added value (demonstrated through manual tinkering with the tools provided), then you may have a much stronger case for implementation in the future. And you will probably get much better ideas about what works, what doesn't, and how to make the implementation easier based on actual experience doing it.

  • Neither @JMCF125 or me suggested mass translation, or even direct translation. Just linking similar question/answers across the SE sites, whether different site or different languages of same site. I was quite specific. It was about linking similar question, not copies of questions. Also linking unanswered questions in one language to similar question with answer in another. No suggestion of high maintenance inline translation of entire QA's etc. Just simple links! – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 4:01
  • @TFD, JMCF suggested badges for translating posts. How is that not suggesting translation exactly? Wikipedia links copies of articles. JMCF said "There may be many versions of Wikipedia because of the amount of languages, but each article in a language is connected to those in other languages. Should we follow Wikipedia about translations?" To me that suggests mass translation and that 'similar' questions should be ones with the same content (like wikipedia articles). Feel free to clarify, but the original question seems to be quite clear. – jmac Feb 19 '14 at 4:06
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    OK, his post has changed, and seem smore leaning on translation, but his UI markup shows promise with: "Link to a question on a site" has second option "A similar question exists on a site but in different language". That is what I think will work. Mass translation will not work as you state, but that's not what we need – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 4:13
  • @TFD, doesn't solve the maintainability issue, nor does it necessarily indicate that linking the posts will have any value without any vetting of the linked posts as high-value in the first place. Why is this better than applying any answer from the similar post to the new post instead? – jmac Feb 19 '14 at 4:14
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    You are missing the point. If you have Portuguese SO question with no answer, but a similar question exists in English SO with valid answer, your current linking option is a comment with a URL. A formal link and presentation of the link would be much more useful and discoverable. The question asker could even mark the link as the accepted answer in Portuguese, no translation done, people self help on translation with Google etc. Also same for similar questions across sites – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 4:21
  • @TFD, I'm suggesting that you read the similar question, take the best content, and turn it in to a portuguese answer with a link back to the SO question which you used to develop it. This is far better of a solution, no? Why do you want to give English guidance to a Portuguese question (especially formally!). – jmac Feb 19 '14 at 4:23
  • Because it is a maintenance nightmare (people can do it, but not to be overly encouraged I think). Linking would be great for same language sites too, so two features for one :-) – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 4:25
  • @TFD, I am an English-speaking user. I post a question. Which do you think I would prefer? (A) A formal link to a Portuguese question and Portuguese answer, (B) A summary of the best answers to the Portuguese question rephrased in English with a link to that question in the answer. That isn't a maintenance nightmare, because the relevant content is already included in my language in my question. So long as the answer is right, there's no reason to even go to the other language site at all. Shouldn't we encourage people to do (B) rather than create a system to do (A)? – jmac Feb 19 '14 at 4:29
  • Disregarding the usefulness of links from same language sites, it's much more likely to be a link from an unanswered Portuguese question to a English question/answer, just based on volume and current history. Many non native English speakers will get some value from this, as English is a common second or third language, keywords will be obvious, or diagrams, automatic translation from English into other languages works quite well, and many people will have a co-worker/friend whom speaks English (as a second language) – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 4:38
  • @TFD, you miss my point. I am a Portuguese programmer. I ask a question. Which would I prefer: (A) a formal link to an English question with answers, or (B) a summary of the best answers from the English site in Portuguese with a link back to the question the answers were summarized from? Again, you are trying to argue for a system to do (A) when (B) would be a better solution for the people asking questions (and is already very easy to do with the existing system) – jmac Feb 19 '14 at 4:41
  • Who is going to make these "summaries". linking takes a couple of clicks – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 4:45
  • @TFD, someone who can read both languages. If you want the quality of the site to be high, then leave a comment linking to the answer, and let someone else do it. I fail to see why you want a formal system to not answer questions and not create a better resource when the tools are in place to create better quality answers in the language of choice of the asker. If they were that good at English, they could just search on English SO to begin with! – jmac Feb 19 '14 at 4:48
  • Reading English (or simple machine translation), and knowing what English words to search on are two different things – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 4:55
  • @TFD, is a link to a question/answer(s) in a different language a good answer? Absolutely not. Will having that sit there in a formal way somehow improve the quality of the question in comparison to, say, having it in a comment? Absolutely not. What is the ultimate goal? To have a good answer in that language. So I see two options: (A) leave a comment with a link saying 'this may be answered here' and hope someone will summarize/translate it later, (B) leave an answer with a summary/translation yourself and add the link at the bottom for sourcing. Why is a formal system needed/better? – jmac Feb 19 '14 at 5:00
  • Obviously on different wavelengths....I'll let the votes do the talking – TFD Feb 19 '14 at 11:33

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