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A strong, and often unseen part of our Stack Exchange Network is our International Stack Overflow sites. Three of the four sites can be found in the Top 10 list for Questions per Day. The rate at which these communities have grown is impressive! These sites continue to help thousands of people a day by providing great answers to their programming questions. However, due our latest initiative towards providing more resources to SE, it was crucial that these sites also received more autonomy and direction from us.

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Drum Roll Please...

Today, I would like to announce Nicolas Chabanovsky as our International Community Lead! Nicolas has served as the Community Manager for SOru for almost four years as an employee of Stack Overflow and close to even more time before that as the site’s creator prior to joining Stack Overflow. Nicolas brings solid expertise in growing and directing international developer communities. He is aware of the cultural differences that are found in our sites and has experienced the international developer culture first hand while working with companies such as LG and Motorola. Nicolas is also skilled at teaching best-practices to communities and in leading efforts to unite users to foster a successful learning environment. He is also a friendly person who is open with community members. Nicolas is well-suited to take this role and meet all of the requirements that come with it.

What WIll the Focus Be?

Nicolas will have a series of tasks that he’s going to be working through. Managing communities is quite a challenge and working with international ones can be quirky. Fortunately for us, Nicolas brings his own quirks! Among the things that he will focus on are the following which I’ll briefly share here. Nicolas will update and expand on these at a later time. I want to only give an overview for now.

Nicolas will work towards uniting our international users to a common Mission. For too long, the international sites have worked as isolated islands. We want to change that by bringing our users together as we think through and tackle problems as a community of sites, not as individual ones. This will create a significant differences with our user experience!

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Nicolas will also work on uniting site-specific initiatives so that they apply on all international communities. There are great ideas proposed on each international site that have the potential to positively affect other communities. They just need to be tweaked and shared. Again, we want to start working as a community of communities and not remain separated.

Another task that Nicolas will focus on is maintaining stable growth and health across our sites. We are doing well today, but we don’t want to remain complacent. We want to grow and be better! Finally, Nicolas will also seek to empower and develop the moderator teams. Those teams are a solid line of defense and encouragement and we want to support them so that they can in turn support our users.

What Can You Expect?

In the coming days, Nicolas will update us all with more details. He will be the one to talk about which initiatives will be looked at first and also what priority each will have. In the meantime, please help me welcome Nicolas Chabanovsky as our International Community Lead! He’s going to do great in this new role. We’re sure you have questions, so, fire phasers! (factoid: It’s “Phasers” in nearly every language but Klingon).

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When we talk about international sites I think we primarily mean the "Stack Overflow in $language" sites and secondarily the "X language" sites (e.g. German). Do the members and managers of these international sites have any wisdom to share with other sites that are English-default but get visitors from all over the world? What can our communities do to better help a user whose primary language is Russian or Japanese or German or Chinese get answers about the workplace or gardening or game development or cooking?

I know that sometimes we in the monolingual-English majority aren't so great at helping people edit their hard-to-understand questions so we can help them get answers. And maybe we aren't so great at writing answers everybody can understand without a dictionary. And other times, we miss important cultural factors that can be particularly relevant on some of our "dealing with other people" sites. If members of our international communities have any advice for the rest of us, anything from "this kind of grammatical construct is hard to understand" to "there's this really important context that's often misunderstood", I think a lot of us would benefit from hearing it.

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Originally, there was a community manager dealing with each language site, and fairly familiar with the culture of the specific language Stack Overflow sites.

For most part they've been shifted around or no longer are at SO. I do realise that its been working... ok for a while - but do you see any challenges in managing multilingual communities without the same breadth of linguistic experience?

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    Yes, the difficulties brought by language are very real and there will certainly be challenges to deal with. Nicolas will address these concerns at length as he has some ideas about how to approach this topic. More is coming on this! – Juan M Jul 24 '18 at 16:24
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    You are right, culture differences and language barrier is not the easiest issue. We will heavily rely on moderators' and other volunteers' help. – Nicolas Chabanovsky Jul 24 '18 at 16:36

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