Very related to Which language should tags be in? and What language should the questions be written in?, but I mostly want to address the Stack team and probe for possibilities:

Should/can the interface be translated to German and the primary language be made German?

My main arguments for such a move:

  • english.stackexchange.com is about English, so English makes sense as the primary language. german.stackexchange.com is about German, so German makes sense as the primary language.
  • We want to attract experts in German which may not necessarily be fluent in English, localizing the interface is IMO important to invite such experts.
  • The proposal invites translation questions from any language to German, so the common focal point is German. Why would English get preferential treatment?

The very first language on this site should be German, English should only be used as a common fallback when the language ability is not sufficient enough to express the question or answer in German.


2 Answers 2


A Bit of Background

Stack Exchange was designed to make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your questions. We don't want to restrict our software to English, but that's how the software was created initially; for an English audience — long before we expanded into a "network of global sites." It is our goal to make the Stack Exchange more of a planetary resource no matter what language they speak.

Our First Localized Site

The "German Language & Usage" site is a bit of a ground-breaking undertaking. The interface is still largely in English, but we don't want to tell our German users "sorry, you can't use our software." We are committed to support sites in other languages while we work through these issues and find ways to make this system work for the community.

We don't yet have a localize-able user interface and we don't necessarily speak your language. Crazier problems emerge when you start to deal with issues like bi-directional languages. But we are watching these first sites closely while we gear up to support non-English languages.

So when will this happen?

Without throwing out a lot of arbitrary, wildly-speculative dates, the best I can say is that localization has obviously become a larger priority. But there are no dates to report or even an estimate. There are more up-and-coming proposals targeted for other languages. We'll let those communities move forward, too, with the understanding that the menus and prompts will all be in English… for the time being.

A localized interface means that all the menus and prompts would be translated into other languages. Tags would have to support non-ASCII characters. We'll likely need to crowd-source the translation to the communities creating the sites. We need a way to follow, and understand non-English-speaking communities. We also need to come up with methods where we can learn and understand the cultural issues which will likely be virtually unknown to us. We cannot assume a site is running smoothly when we cannot follow (and understand) what is being discussed.

It's a big undertaking. Be patient and help us work through these transitional issues and work-arounds in the best way that keeps this community moving forward. We don't want to get mired down waiting for the software to perfectly support every conceivable world audience.

  • 1
    If I can help somewhere, just drop me a mail. I have worked on translations for the Opera browser, my.opera.com, Twitter mobile and many WordPress sites, themes and plugins.
    – fuxia
    May 25, 2011 at 15:03
  • Great, just what I was hoping to hear! Please keep the community informed and let us know with anything you need help with. :)
    – deceze
    May 25, 2011 at 22:20

Yeah, this sounds like a good idea, listening to the browser’s accepted language and returning either German or English. And having some option to allow registered users to overwrite that effect (even a cookie would be fine).

The question is just: Is StackExchange able to do that? :)

  • 3
    I'd want a setting in the preferences for registered users, auto-switching can be annoying. As for the feasibility: Jeff‽ :)
    – deceze
    May 25, 2011 at 5:21
  • @deceze: Yeah, actually I would prefer a setting too.. I’ll amend the answer.
    – poke
    May 25, 2011 at 5:38

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