Note: By "community" in the questions below I mean all some-language-speaking software developers in general not only Stack Overflow in the language users.
I think each one of us wants as much knowledge as possible available in our first language. It happens that there are a few small things that keep us from coming together and sharing with others what we know. Some time ago, all international communities started sharing thoughts about the problems with building a knowledge base in our first language. I analysed the feedback and would like to share with you what I have highlighted.
Posts on the international sites:
- Stack Overflow in Russian: 16 answers on the site and 1 on Google Forms
- Stack Overflow in Spanish: 3 answers on the site and 2 on Google Forms
- Stack Overflow in Portuguese: 2 answers on the site and 2 on Google Forms
- Stack Overflow in Japanese: 2 answers on the site and 1 on Google Forms
Users were asked to answer six questions. Bellow one can see the questions with summary of the answers.
1. What problems do you personally experience when looking for answers to your programming questions in your first language on the Internet? What causes the most frustration? How would you improve this?
Users think that the main problem is the absence of information in their first language. This was mentioned in almost all international communities. Users want to see more information in their first language in general, and particularly about new technologies.
Folks think that international developer communities can benefit a lot if more bilingual people start using international sites and help to bring the quality of the answers and depth of technical expertise on the sites to a new level.
2. Where do you find answers to programming questions today? What do you see as the main problem on these sites? How would you solve them?
Aside from international Stack Overflows, folks use various websites starting from personal blogs to Stack Overflow in English. Users mentioned that they do not like the number of ads on sites, have difficulties with navigation and it’s still tough to find the information people need since there is too much noise on most sites. Also people complained that on many websites it’s hard to keep the information relevant (users cannot edit others’ posts).
What struck me most is that folks said that the number of active forums in their first language has dramatically decreased over the last few years. This is bad news, especially in the context of the rise of sites with machine translated content from Stack Overflow in English. It seems the machine translated sites dominate even the source (Stack Overflow in English) in many languages. It scares me that we all might lose online communities in our first language.
3. On what do you spend the most time when looking for an answer? How would you improve this process?
A lot of users said that the most time consuming activity is to find the right keywords for search engines. Another common complaint was... about the search on Stack Overflow (the site).
4. What is the common problem that most developers who speak your language experience?
The most common problem among all languages is … asking questions. Users said that people who are new to programming do not know how to ask questions, on the other hand experts do not want to share what they know with the community.
Another problem which was mentioned a few times is lack of fundamental knowledge among our peers.
One response made me really sad. A user voiced that because of poverty, many of our colleagues do not have time and money for extra self education.
5. What prevents the community from creating a free knowledge base in your language? How would you solve this problem?
Users think that there are enough people who would like to come together and share knowledge with the community but they do not know about each other or the international sites. The suggested solution is to proactively look for such people and connect them on the platform.
Another problem that was mentioned is the negative feedback, especially in the case (as I understand it) when the community posts a lot of comments that say how bad the question is and at the same time the community does not provide any answers. Users think that it pushes people away.
Users also said that they would like to see more proactive enthusiastic fellows in the community: people who do not wait for others to write questions and answers for them, instead they share what they know with others or ask good questions.
6. Do you ask colleagues programming questions “offline”? What does this process look like? How would you improve this process?
The general response is that users do ask and answer questions offline and that is fine, nothing we can or should do about it. And that is great! =)
If you have anything that you would like to add, please feel free to post an answer here or on an international meta.
A lot of thanks to everyone who participated. Your feedback is very helpful. We appreciate it. We are not going to forget it. Instead, together let us think about how to move forward fixing some of the issues that you have mentioned.
Note: We are still waiting for your feedback on the “Let us measure the community’s effort using specific metrics” post . Please, share your thoughts. It will help us to build a better experience for the community.