Related: We need to help non-English-speakers somehow

I learned from this meta question (update: now deleted for under-10K users) that new quality filters are going to stop certain questions from reaching SO, partly based on proper use of English.

In a big way, this is a relief, but these filters are going to have an impact somewhere around 11:00PM GMT. That's around 6PM Eastern here in America, when a lot of native English speakers start heading home and the quality of English on SO goes downhill. It happens on weekends as well, I've noticed. Folks not from America, England, and so forth are going to take a big hit from this.

  • Does the community want to help and encourage these users, or is the majority view that we're better off without them?
  • Can anything be done to help non-native English speakers improve their questions enough that they're useful--to us and them?
  • Is forgetting to capitalize "I" worth torpedoing somebody's question?
  • Finally, can the failure message be something more helpful than Sorry, we can't accept this question?

I realize there are already incentives for editing others' questions, and well-worded questions are incentivized by better responses. I've still seen a ton of hard-to-understand questions on SO, though, and I wonder what will be left at 8pm on a Sunday if all poorly-worded questions are removed. Is there more we could be doing here?

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    I thought about asking this earlier, and ended up deciding "let's wait a few days and see what happens in practice." But have a +1. – Pops May 12 '11 at 17:24
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    Are they developing a pending question queue, where people can go and clean up a question for +2 rep? Would be nice. – Won't May 12 '11 at 17:57
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    I wouldn't worry about your Sunday evenings: I'm sure that you can pop over here to Meta and drown your sorrows in all of the duplicate "Why can't I post this (question|answer)?" questions that will be popping up. – Charles May 12 '11 at 19:25
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    'this meta question' is not accessible. At least for poor non-10ks. – GrzegorzOledzki May 13 '11 at 7:39
  • i wonder if i had this problem on gaming.se 2 days ago. it wouldn't let me post a question with that error message (but adding an extra tag helped there.) – Andy May 13 '11 at 8:05
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    Update: In retrospect, "I wonder what will be left at 8pm on a Sunday if all poorly-worded questions are removed" was, ironically, too optimistic. – Justin Morgan Oct 7 '14 at 19:34

At 3,600+ questions per day, I wouldn't fret too much over losing a few percent of the questions coming in.

Particularly if it is the worst few percent.


As I've said before, it's the responsibility of the question asker to meet us halfway -- heck, even a quarter of the way -- by putting a reasonable amount of effort into their question.

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    That's fair, but is there anything someone can do if they just don't have solid English skills? Maybe Google Translate or something? – Justin Morgan May 14 '11 at 17:45
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    That image alone deserves a +1. – uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN May 18 '11 at 19:52
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    @Justin: they should just learn English, we all know that it's almost mandatory in today's world. And I'm not a native english speaker. – Thomas Bonini May 18 '11 at 20:34
  • -1 no alternative text. Put a reasonable amount of effort into your answer. :) – Andrew Grimm May 20 '11 at 7:51

The users you're talking abut should brush up on their English; it will help them out in their career anyway. I'm a non-English speaker myself, so I spend a lot of time trying to improve my English as much as possible before submitting a post; I do it both for myself, and as a sign of respect towards those that help me out in return.

Some of the people that ask low quality questions aren't even bothered by punctuation or using a spell checker. Last I checked, punctuation was used in languages other than English, as well. In the end, there simply are questions that are too low quality to be on Stack Overflow.

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    There are valid differences in punctuation across languages: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/91231/… but you make a fair point; "!!!??!" probably isn't valid in any natural language. (BTW, I would never have guessed that you're not a native Anglophone! I hope this does not come across as patronizing: well done.) – Josh Caswell May 18 '11 at 22:41
  • @Josh not at all. I'm not that easily offended!!!??! – alex May 19 '11 at 8:44

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