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the poster has written the question in Spanish (I think!) and has also provided an English translation. Should the Spanish part be edited out as all questions are supposed to be in english, or is it not really doing any harm?

4 Answers 4


I strongly disagree with keeping non-English text in the body after translating. It invites other users to comment/answer in non-English as well. And it's very simple: this is an English-only site and we can expect users to obey this.

Also, no need to keep a copy of the original; the original text is never lost and we can just view/link to the original revision.

So, my proposal would be:

  • Get yourself a nice automated translation of the post.
  • Edit the post to contain the English translation only.
  • Do your own editing on it like any other (poor-English) post.
  • Include a note at the top: This is a translation of the original post in German (linking to the non-English revision)
  • Have the translation being edited like any other (lower) quality posts by the community.

This note on top of the question/answer is an invitation for native tongues to improve the translation (including the OP).

  • To the extent to which people are likely to notice and refer to the old version for clarity or to check the accuracy of the translation, wouldn't people also be likely to refer to it to reply in the same language? Or, the flip side: If editing out the original non-English text decreases the likelihood of non-English responses, wouldn't it decrease the likelihood of anyone noticing a problem in the translation, by the same amount? Jan 30, 2013 at 0:34
  • @EliahKagan Sorry, but I couldn't care less about this difference. We can expect users to post their question in English and after a (poor) automated translation the OP is one of the native toungues invited to improve.
    – gertvdijk
    Jan 30, 2013 at 0:38
  • That addresses my second point...sort of. (The OP may not know enough English to reasonably proofread the translation!) What about the first? Do you really think removing the non-English text but linking to it explicitly will decrease the number of non-English answers? If so, why? The approach you recommend seems fine, but the insistence that we must not have any non-English showing seems to me like a solution in search of a problem. Jan 30, 2013 at 4:12

For a couple of these, I've edited the posts so that the translation appears at the start, before the untranslated original. I clean up the translation to the extent I can, but leave the non-English original. That way, if a native speaker of the OP's language comes along, he or she can help with the the question text or possibly the answer. I've done these where someone has already done a google translate cut-paste, which by itself seems fine to me. It's better than nothing, no puppies are hurt, and further clean-up can be done as necessary.


I think so, having the language there encourages other users to post comments and answers in the same language making is hard to those following the question. If the user was able to translate his question into English he should be able to know enough to translate answers back, usless it is a case of "google translate". However It looks like the orginal poster did not do the translation. So I would leave it alone, and let mods deal with it or whoever wants to be on translation duty for the poster and people answering.


It seems to me that the non-English text should be retained so that it is more apparent if the translation is wrong or otherwise needs improvement.

As for the possibility that leaving the non-English text might encourage non-English answers...

The "English only" rule does not need to be enforced proactively. We are not in the middle of a crisis of Ask Ubuntu being taken over by other languages. If there are answers in non-English languages that don't get translated, they can be flagged and removed. They are uncommon now; if they become common, the policy can be revisited.

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