Edit: No one complained about the German question https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/61549/natbib-biblatex-styling-help for two hours, so I'd like to clarify what our position is (the votes below aren't enough to interpret them as consensus).

Original question:

The OP of “Using function calc in TikZ” doesn't seem to speak English well enough to ask an understandable and coherent question. I was tempted to ask him to pose the question in Portuguese, and then have have google translate (or someone on this site who speaks Portuguese and English) translate it. However, since this might set a precedent, I wanted to ask first what you think about that.

Do we accept questions in languages other than English? What is the stack overflow policy on that?

EDIT: Let me rephrase that question, so that it is less broad: If we get a question in English, were it is impossible to understand what the problem really is, is it acceptable to ask for an additional explanation in the native language of the user?


6 Answers 6


Do we accept questions in languages other than English?

Absolutely not, at least in my opinion. I totally agree with the official Stack Overflow policy, and I think this policy should be enforced in this site as well.

However, I would accept that if a user fails to explain himself in English because he is not a native speaker, he might edit his question to include a brief explanation in his mother tongue. This explanation would help a moderator to edit the question as well and rewrite the English version so it makes sense.

  • 1
    At least for that particular question I had the second point in mind.
    – Caramdir
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 17:05
  • IMHO, with the intervention of moderators or competent persons, the last update must be in English. Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 17:35

I don't think we should have questions in languages other than English because it defies the system of knowledge management we have here. Should a question in English be closed if there is a duplicate in German already? Doesn't work, imho. Ideally, we want all the information for a particular problem in one place; this won't work out with multilingual contributions. The only language we "expect" our users to read and write to a certain degree is English.

The approach outlined in the question is fine with me, i.e. if a question is really unclear because of language difficulties, and a user willing to help knows the native language of the OP, that other language can naturally be used for improving and clarifying the question.


There's a serious problem with having questions asked in languages where there are no moderators, or even 3k+ users, that read and write it. The moderators speak, at least, English, Spanish, and German. And Norwegian, I guess.

I'm guessing that English, Spanish, and German are also the languages that there is more than a slight chance of getting useful answers.

Suggested policy:

  1. Close qns asked in languages other than English, Spanish, and German (or whatever we figure are the languages that don't put us completely at sea) as "too localized".
  2. Put in a comment for qns in Spanish and German that the site has English as its official language, and that qns that can be understood by everyone are best for the site.
  3. Closed qns that some kind soul appends an English translation can be reopened.
  • I think there are enough high rep users who speak French that we should add French to the list. (French is also a pretty big language group, so if we are keen on being inclusive, it should be included).
    – Seamus
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 12:28

The TeX community tends to be fairly multilingual, so there's no reason not to do this if English just doesn't work. I can't imagine it will catch on especially, though.

  1. There are quite a lot of lists and fora in German language. There is no disadvantage for Germans to ask questions in German there. Ulrike, who answered here, e.g. answers question on mrunix.de.
  2. If you accept German, where will you stop? Will you accept questions in cyrillic letters, or even in Chinese?

So for all countries having a TUG, there is no need to bother people with non english questions here.

Sounds like I didn't like Germans? No, being myself one.

  • I don't agree with your argument. SE network boasts that its Q/A style is better than mailing lists. So just because a local language mailing list exists, it doesn't mean that tex.se is redundant. After all there are plenty of English language tex support forums as well, but that doesn't stop people frkm asking questions here.
    – Aditya
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 20:28

[en] It is obvious that English be the language of communication tex.stackexchange and every question must have a translation (often a google translation) in the language of Shakespeare. But it seems equally important for the dissemination of TeX / LaTeX and to improve the search with google to let the author also formulate his question in its original language. I think we can trust the users tex.stackexchange to report abuse or misuse of charter.

You'll notice that I use google to translate, but I agree that my text is taken.

[fr] Il est bien évident que l'anglais doit être la langue de communication de tex.stackexchange, ainsi toute question posée doit avoir une traduction (souvent une google traduction) dans la langue de Shakespeare. Mais il me semble tout aussi important pour la diffusion de TeX/LaTeX et pour améliorer la recherche avec google de laisser l'auteur formuler aussi sa question dans sa langue originale. Je pense que l'on peut faire confiance aux utilisateurs de tex.stackexchange pour signaler des abus ou des détournements de charte.

Vous noterez que j'utilise google pour traduire, mais que j'accepte que mon texte soit repris.

  • 1
    Google translate is somewhat helpful, but often produces non-sense. For example I can't understand the English version of your last half-sentence. Does it mean that you accept that your writing will be improved by others? (That's what my semi-knowledge of French would tell me.) So I agree that for people who rely on automatic translation services adding both languages can sometimes be useful.
    – Caramdir
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 20:01
  • 1
    As a side note (and don't take that as an insult): How is it possible that there are educated people in the middle of Europe who don't speak English? Frankly, I couldn't imagine not being able to communicate in English.
    – Caramdir
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 20:04
  • 1
    hello, this is my case, I read English fairly well but I do not control all its subtleties (I regret not having worked as a youth more)
    – rpapa
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 21:10

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