English is not the only language of the Internet, and it certainly isn't the only language of our users.

How should we deal with questions, answers, claims and references that are not in English?

1 Answer 1


While English isn't the first language of many of our users and moderators, it is unfortunately necessary to restrict questions and answers to English.

The justification for this is that Stack Exchange sites require a critical mass of users to read, vote, answer and flag, to ensure that the site maintains high-quality content. Languages other than English do not currently have the critical mass required on Skeptics.SE.

However, English has no exclusive rights to superstitions, false statements, surprising facts, empirical evidence or peer-reviewed science. Discussing non-English sources may be necessary. It is acceptable to reference non-English texts to support a question or to support an answer (i.e. to show notability or to provide evidence.)

It is good practice when citing English sources to include a short quote from the source. The same applies to other languages. Quote the original source (in the original language), but please also include an English translation. A rough translation is acceptable to start with. (If an automated translation tool makes a reasonably successful attempt, that is also acceptable.)

If you are bilingual and see a poor translation, please be bold and edit the post to improve the translation.

  • I think that instead of requiring a full translation of the quote (which can be really hard when it comes to scientific papers) a summary is perfectly acceptable.
    – Kit Sunde
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 8:57
  • (If an automated translation tool makes a reasonably successful attempt, that is also acceptable.) Please, no. :D I'll help with translations if I see something. @KitSunde If the quote is not too long, a translation can be tried. Although if the terminology is too specific, then you're right. A summary is better (and more accessible).
    – Alenanno
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 10:24
  • @Alennanno: I share your unhappiness with machine translation - and once argued with a superior who thought it was good enough for support emails to foreign customers. However, my real intention was to get the first draft up and available for others to edit, rather than waiting for them to make the first move. I think a quality translation is more likely if we start with a poor one than if we start with none.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 11:22

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