Referring to Localization, the state of the nation:

We seem to be one of the playgrounds for finding out the needs and pitfalls for localizing a StackOverflow platform. Therefore the 7 Essential Meta Questions of Every Beta may be insufficient for our Beta (but still as important).

  • Are there additional questions for such Betas the team may want to ask?
  • Which steps should we as a community take to make this bilingual adventure successful, do we want to make ourself a Roadmap?

This should go far more than "What languages should titles be in?", those are precious questions but only tiny parts of our mosaic. E.g. nobody has ever asked a question on meta in german. Only our moderator has a question with a title in both languages, Only Tim N had a question written in German!

So to clarify:
The question is about the greater picture, your thoughts and of course our providers thoughts :)


3 Answers 3


The meta discussions have been concerned with the two questions:

  • "How do we avoid excluding learners of German, when much of the content is in German?"
  • "How do we avoid excluding speakers of German, when much of the content is in English?

I think the first question is redundant. Because how many people are really interested in "German Language & Usage" before being able to understand some written German? Without even managing to extract the meaning with a dictionary and some time? I think almost none. But interested learners might not be able to write much, so as long as we allow learners to answer and comment in English even though the question is in German, no learners will be excluded.

Therefore I think the only problem is the other way around: How do we avoid excluding German speakers with little or no grasp of English?


I do think translation of Stack Exchange's interface is essential. A lack of a German interface might deter potential users of the site.

However, although GL&U has a userbase suited to crowdsource a good German translation, it isn't any better or worse suited than any other SE to trial the mechanisms of having a interface that can alternate between languages based on user preference.

What is very different about this SE is that the content is bilingual. I think our energies would be more usefully spent on hammering out the fundamental issues that come from that. These questions include:

  • Should all titles be in one language? In both languages? Should both be displayed?
  • Should all questions and answers be written in both languages? Who's going to translate them?
  • Once the interface is translated, should a user see content in the same language as their interface in preference to the other?
  • If written in both, do we need special markup to visually and structurally distinguish the original question from the translation, or the German from the English, or both?
  • Tags can't have umlauts and ß, which breaks their usefulness. How do we deal with that?
  • Could someone searching in one language find a question written in the other?

We've started to answer some of these, of course. Perhaps we should be considering whether our answers are specific to this site or whether they could apply to to future SEs about other languages; perhaps we can't without knowing more specifics of those languages' needs.

If having bilingual content is going to require changes to the display and markup of content to avoid it becoming a mess, we're going to need to have solid usage cases to support that.


As far as German users are concerned, the only really important thing are tags that support äöüß and upper-case letters because for single words there are unintended homonyms otherwise.

I don't think that "Post Your Answer" will prevent many German users from participating.

As far as the language on meta is concerned, it was suggested to use English because otherwise, beginners in the German language would have been systematically excluded.

The suggestion to translate everything is still open, I still think that it is impractical in general, but it would make a lot of sense to do it on meta.

I want to add that people would be much more inclined to translate if this were part of the interface (i.e. a field to enter the translation so that it would not be mixed up with the original post, a way to find all untranslated posts with lots of votes, ...).

  • translation in general feels like comments in programming. Some additional meta information which does never describe whats going on really because someone edited the original content in the meanwhile. The longer I think about it the more it makes sense for me to have posts in one language only and "quasi-identical" questions in both languages, simply because of usability. Marking a Question as primarily language xxx could be a good solution. Commented Jun 4, 2011 at 9:45
  • it was suggested to use English because otherwise, beginners in the German language would have been systematically excluded. Your assumption is, that beginners in German always know English, which is imho a fallacy. Au contraire, the greatest common divisor of visitors to the site is the German language. Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 22:58

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