What should we do with questions (or answers) that are written in a non-English language?

I'm now talking about:

These can be downvoted, but what if the question or answer is useful? It could be closed, should the reason be "too localized"? As a last resort, the question or answer could be flagged, especially for answers which can be "closed".


1 Answer 1


Localisation has been discussed before but speaking about this question right now, we really only support English.

That said, this is still somebody who needs help. Closing something just because of its language should be a last resort. Ubuntu is global and we should expect that, as the best Ubuntu support channel, people from all around the world want to use us.

If you can speak the language, translate it. The tools here allow us to do things that aren't practical elsewhere. Don't remove the native version, just write the English translation above it with a notice so that people understand that it may be inaccurate.

If it doesn't get answered, it doesn't get answered.

Edit: Do we really want this?

While I kind of agree with Marco's comment (this means more work for a sub-optimal result), I still think this is desirable. As BadP's suggests in an answer, it's healthier to have one community with every nationality than splitting everybody into their own site... As long as we have a common protocol.

I'm not suggesting we translate answers; I'm saying we keep everything in English. The onus on understanding the answer is on the asker but they can ask for clarification or simple-English version if they want, just as they could anywhere else. This may limit their use of the site but it should be fairly obvious from every page on this website that we deal exclusively in English.

So I don't think this makes things too much harder on us. Our answer ratio might drop but hopefully by tagging everything that needs a translation, we can keep on top of it.

I also don't think translating things is inviting people to bombard us with non-English answers. I think there are more than enough natural dissuading factors:

  • It's going to take time for it to be translated.
  • Things get lost in translation.
  • You might not be able to understand the English responses.

It should be said that people should only tackle a translation if they are fluent in the language and understand the question being asked. There's little point in hamming the translations and providing answers to questions that were never asked.

Assuming people don't get silly with it, the worst that happens is something doesn't get adequately answered.

  • 11
    I do not agree with downvoting questions because it's written in a foreign language (someone else did). Thanks for your answer.
    – Lekensteyn
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 9:34
  • 12
    @Lekensteyn I agree with you. I don't think there's any need to downvote something because it's written in another language. Just seems rude.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 9:38
  • 4
    Then I think the translated tag should be dropped - who cares if the post has been translated? Otherwise it's worth a shot Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 13:01
  • I wondered how this one would be resolved.
    – boehj
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 21:25
  • I disagree with leaving the untranslated version in: I'm fluent in a few languages and my translations have ended up clearer than the original. Time to edit that bit out of this answer???
    – Fabby
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 8:22
  • @Fabby I said it like that because there are clearly examples of translations that have been farmed out to Google Translate. If you are confident enough in the accuracy of your translation, have at it.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 8:51
  • This recommendation differs from the Stack Overflow’s one. This is just a side-note, I am not trying to tell either is wrong.
    – Melebius
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 6:43

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