I have asked an innocuous question about a translation from German to English, after I failed to find a translation in online dictionaries (such as Leo).

However, I found my question down-voted twice w/o any suggestions (in associated comments) how I could improve it and 3 closure requests for off-topic stating as reasons that the translation request was inappropriate (1) or that expertise of a language other than German (2) was required edit: the question has now been closed with this latter reason given, which is definitely incorrect.

Neither is correct (though the original post didn't mention my earlier attempts to find a translation).

What is going on here? Is this down-voting/closing to be expected/intended? Or is SE German being taken over by trolls & bullies (as are so many other sites)?

I think fundamentally, almost all posts on SE German are about translation in the widest sense. Hence making translation requests off topic causes a problem and creates a large grey area, inviting abusive closure requests.

  • 2
    Relevant meta post. Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 9:27
  • @TheAwfulLanguage thanks for that link.
    – Walter
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 9:31
  • Whoever downvoted this: remember that we are on Meta here. Meta is the very place to ask such questions. Voting will not affect people's reputation but a downvoted Meta question indicates more or less that "it is not worth reading". But we do need to read such questions to be able to explain why any question was not well received. That would be the major part in building up a great community.
    – Takkat
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 16:08
  • Note that the first answer to the linked meta question says Translations will be a natural part of this site, but only as long at they they involve questions about the "finer points of the language." I see how you might construe that to mean that translation requests from German to English should be on-topic as long as they're about the finer points, given that that's the most upvoted answer to the question "Are translation requests from German allowed". But as far as I can tell, community consensus as applied in actions is that they're never allowed, no matter how fine the points. (...)
    – sgf
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 7:50
  • My guess as to why it has so many upvotes is that people read the first paragraph ("I would suggest that you do not provide rudimentary "Can you translate this?" services on this site. This is not a translation service; There are better tools for that job.") and found themselves agreeing with that sentiment, so they upvoted it. I'm hoping more people will upvote user unknown's answer, which reflects policy as it is, and makes more sense as a policy anyways.
    – sgf
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


I voted to close the question because it seemed to me that it assumed that the meaning of "Nebenkampfplatz" was known and only asked for a good English word to use in its place. That makes it a question about the English language and off-topic as in the standard reason that it "only require[s] expertise of a language other than German". You seem to have misunderstood that close reason when you wrote in an edit to the question:

I have no idea why anybody thinks knowledge of languages other than English and German is required for this post.

I did not downvote, I do not think that there is anything wrong with the question as such, I just think that it is off-topic.

Not all good questions are on-topic here. Some are off-topic here and on-topic on a different SE site. Some good questions are off-topic on all SE sites. Closing off-topic questions is indeed expected and intended. That does not make close-voters trolls or bullies, even in those cases in which you disagree with the decision. Closing questions is done by the community and not by one single and always consistent moderator, so if you find a question similar to yours that was not closed, that does not mean that closing yours was wrong.

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