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Stack Overflow is, by design, an English-only site. Every non-English question will be closed in minutes as "too localized." But still some users think that if something is not mentioned in the FAQ, then it is allowed. So, how about fixing that?

  • It's funny that I can't add faq tag here :) – vava Feb 23 '10 at 5:42
  • Well, it is kind of a Moderator-Only tag.... – Tyler Carter Feb 23 '10 at 5:49
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    In how many languages should the policy be mentioned in the FAQ? – Tom Hawtin - tackline Feb 23 '10 at 6:49
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    @Tom - Good question, because writing "non English questions shouldn't be asked here", in English, has great chances to miss the point. – Gnoupi Feb 23 '10 at 8:34
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    @Gnoupi, it's not for non-English speaking users, it's more for anyone else, like a guideline when it's appropriate to flag the post or vote to close it. – vava Feb 23 '10 at 9:23
  • Voting to close this question as too localized, because it's now [status-completed] . – Pops Aug 31 '10 at 14:22
  • @Popular Demand, how so? There's no mention of English in faq. – vava Sep 1 '10 at 7:39
  • @vava, see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/13676/… and blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/07/non-english-question-policy ; I assume you were reading the little page linked to at top right, but "the FAQ" often refers to the big community-generated FAQ. – Pops Sep 1 '10 at 14:21
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Do we really need a NO ELEPHANTS sign?

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I mean, isn't such a thing obvious? Would you go to a forum where everyone was communicating in French and type

Hey French Dudes, I got a question but I don't know French so I'm just going to go ahead and ask it in English anyway?

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    People do that, when you have a French program, for which there is no explicit English forum provided. And fact is, if they don't have choice, sometimes they will just try. – Gnoupi Feb 23 '10 at 8:33
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    @gnoupi so there is no place in the entire world for, say, a French programmer to ask programming questions in French? I find that hard to believe.. – Jeff Atwood Feb 23 '10 at 8:46
  • While I completely agree with you, new users that have enough power to close the question might hesitate to do so because they are not sure it is legitimate cause. Or, which is worse, when the question get closed by others, they might think it is unfair and complain and get depressed or angry. Rules should be visible to everyone. – vava Feb 23 '10 at 9:20
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    @Jeff - I was just giving example of a situation in which such thing tend to happen. Of course I think there are sites to ask programming questions in most languages. I doubt however they all have a "return on invest" ratio as high as SO, for a question asked. – Gnoupi Feb 23 '10 at 13:21
  • @vasa - "depressed", really? Should we start worrying about suicidal tendencies when closing a question? :) – Gnoupi Feb 23 '10 at 13:21
  • @Jeff, no, the sign is not necessary as I'm sure that Elephants are allowed providing then have the word "Programming" written on the side. – Lazarus Feb 23 '10 at 13:42
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    @bchappell: You didn't just sprout an "elephant-programming" meme based on the late "boat-programming" trend, did you? :) – Sampson Feb 23 '10 at 22:10
  • @Gnoupi, I don't know about you, but unfair things make me depressed. Not clinically depressed but nevertheless. – vava Feb 24 '10 at 2:49
  • @vava: Life is unfair. We all have to face that sooner or later :) – Sampson Feb 24 '10 at 12:01
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    @Jonathan, shouldn't we make it better then? At least a little bit :) – vava Feb 24 '10 at 13:10
  • @vava: Sure. To make it better, learn English :) I spent almost a decade learning Portuguese so that I wouldn't be helpless in Brazil. I never walked the streets of Franca, SP complaining about how unfair their "Portuguese-only" stores were. – Sampson Feb 24 '10 at 16:19
  • @Jonathan, oh, common. If you didn't know that in Brazil you would have hard time finding English speaking person, you wouldn't learn Portuguese. When I travel to Denmark I do not learn Danish as people there all speak English perfectly. This is a knowledge you can find in the Internet. But you can't really find a rule "SO is English only", and the people expect that everything that is not explicitly prohibited is allowed. – vava Feb 24 '10 at 18:08
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    There are ... things, out there, which will change the users into elephants. Case in point: Google Translate, and the unhappy and confused elephant who is actually not an elephant in the real world: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/62939/… . I concede that it is an edge case. – Piskvor Aug 31 '10 at 16:47
  • That's not an appropriate analogy, because people are trying to walk their elephants on the road, when obviously they should be doing so on the sidewalk! – Andrew Grimm Nov 26 '10 at 9:40
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    That is not a 'No elephants' sign. It is a 'Don't throw litter' sign. – sawa Sep 13 '11 at 16:53
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Well there is this as brought up here.

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Perhaps so, just to make it explicit. Although it is probably pretty obvious on hitting the homepage.

edit: oh yeah, and I wonder how many people read the FAQ before posting anyway...

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It should be clearly mentioned that the forums are english only. Despite the fact that it's pretty clear at first glance that all the content is in englsih, people that do not know the language may be inclined to try and ask a question in their language in hope they find someone who understands them and can answer them. Having a clear indication that such behavior is against the rules may discourage this and it reduces "spam". You can always use Google Translate if you really need to get something answered and you don't know english.

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    While I agree with the gist of your answer, I'd like to point out a couple things: 1. SE sites are not forums, they are question-and-answer sites; our site don't play well to threaded discussion and are instead focused on getting answers. 2. Posting a raw Google/machine translation is bad advice, as machine translations can distort things badly and result in unclear posts. Overall, machine translations are helpful in getting a basic understanding of what something is saying, not for producing reliable, high-quality prose. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog May 3 at 3:16
  • Thanks for the clarification. I think that using machine translation is not ideal, of course, but it's better than nothing if somebody needs help. Not every language has good places to answer these things, and english is a language that people from every place on earth know, so it's sure you will get the most people if you post in english. The intention is to not get people left out, and you should be all about that given that you are Sonic the Inclusive Hedgehog. – Tomás Ralph May 3 at 3:21
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    Yes, that may be true, but I wouldn't actively encourage it. If the machine translation turns out to be bad, it will likely be negatively received by the community and be judged as "unclear". (Simply pointing out a fact.) Also, I am inclusive in that I support advising new users much more calmly rather than the passive-aggressiveness employed by many other users (and other things like improving the UI to make it better for new users); however, I still support the main core Q&A rules, one of which is that questions should be clear and understandable for all. :) – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog May 3 at 3:27

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