Should all the questions need to be asked in English? I saw a question which was not in English and some other languages I did not reckon and I think not many would reckon that too. I did not see any rule that questions should be asked in English, so should I flag such questions in future or should I leave it for those who understand that language to answer for them? My natural instinct says that if such thing is allowed then this site will get very difficult to use due to the diversity of languages. Please enlighten me in this regard?


As Gerry Myerson links to, posting questions in another language is not against site rules here, and the majority opinion (at the time that thread was opened) was to allow such questions. This is yet another way in which math.SE differs from the majority of the other SE sites.

However, such questions should have an English translation appended to them, and to me the reason is twofold:

  1. this will ensure that the greatest number of users possible can contribute to answering these questions; and
  2. it should prevent math.SE from becoming a cluster of linguistic ghettos, with French speakers asking and receiving answers only in French, and likewise for Persian, Hindi, Russian, etc.

As for flagging: this isn't necessarily a bad idea. Just don't flag with the connotation that the question itself should be closed and/or deleted. It may be easier for the ♦-mods to convince other users to contribute to the translation of such questions.

  • $\begingroup$ I fully agree to your twofold reasons, but should SE consider to keep both the language versions? I say this because, it might be a case that OP might not know english well or not at all...in that case OP will not get any help at all. $\endgroup$ – Hawk Mar 4 '14 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Hawk: I think that keeping the version from the original language is important because any translations given will not be official (I doubt that we have many certified translators in our midst), and it would be much easier to discover (and fix) mistranslations when both are present and visible. We had a situation like you describe not too long ago, and the end result seems to have been quite positive. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 4 '14 at 10:32
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    $\begingroup$ How do you deal with the moderation issue? It is almost impossible to moderate content that you can't even read. $\endgroup$ – user9733 Mar 4 '14 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist: I find that Google translate is often able to give some glimpse of what a "question" contains. Even if it is not a perfect translation, it is usually good enough to discern a post with mathematical content from nonsense. Otherwise, math.SE has a very large and diverse userbase, which generally means that if a question in asked in language X, there are several other users fluent in X active on the site; it is then a matter to find them (chat sometimes helps) and get their take on the issue. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 4 '14 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ Arthur, using Google translate on non-English questions seems to me to be a terrible use of the moderators' time. Further, how do you know whom to engage for what? I completely agree with the worry that allowing multiple languages here will turn the site into a series of ghettos. Thus, while I appreciate the global character of the user base here and feel that it of course adds greatly to the experience, I must protest at the allowance of questions or answers in anything but English. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Mar 4 '14 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist: are you asking about "community moderation" or "moderator moderation"? (The former I mean up/down votes and votes to close/delete, etc.) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 4 '14 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ @RonGordon: To be perfectly honest, I would prefer it if there were no flags raised simply because a question was posted in another language; the work that has been proposed for such questions is something that can (and should, IMHO) be taken care of my the community at large. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for legitimate non-English questions to receive many (♦-mod-only) flags, and as a ♦-mod I see it as part of my duty to remedy these situations as best as possible, even if some extra effort is required. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 4 '14 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for that explanation, Arthur. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Mar 4 '14 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ But, one thing I do realise is that, moderators are the binding force in math.SE . We cannot even imagine how much pressure and workload a moderator takes up but serves us silently in exchange of incomplete satisfaction. Without moderators, there is no SE. $\endgroup$ – Hawk Mar 4 '14 at 13:18

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