My original intent was a question meant to clarify something that I quite honestly did not know. Does the Workplace SE allow questions in foreign languages, and if so, should questions in foreign languages be encouraged?
Now, I did not post this question without some thought into figuring it out on my own.
After thinking about the possibilities of workplace questions from different cultures and languages, I searched on the Workplace SE questions, meta, and help, and didn't find a policy on questions in foreign languages. Although SE Meta did have an article, and post.
Throughout the discussion that I had with a number of users (shoutout to GrayCyngus for bearing with me), everything relates back to the idea of an implicit versus explicit policy. In other words, what is the de facto and de jure practice of the Workplace. With the emphasis on a written guideline of foreign languages?
Of the posts mentioned:
One key narrative becomes apparent from each:
- "Stack Overflow Trilogy has an official policy on non-English questions"
- "here’s our official policy towards non-English questions on Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and Super User."
The authors all relate their statements to policy pertaining to Stack Overflow, Super User, and Server Fault.
I am going to make a fairly bad analogy, but bear with me. Each SE site is a Nation-State, which are free to craft its own practices and policies. But since Stack Overflow (along with Super User and Server Fault) were among the first 'States' many subsequent SE sites adopt their practices and policies; many of which makes sense because they are tried and true.
But nowhere did I read that all SE sites have to adhere to the same policies. The policies of one ring applying to all. To my knowledge, each has freedom to change the underlying framework to suit their own mission objectives.
There is where I introduce two other posts:
In the first, the question and top answer succinctly summarizes the difficulty of allowing questions in foreign languages and the steps needed to take something that is inherently confusing to the point where it can be easily read by users.
In the second, the author, Jay Hanlon, lays out three points on the decision to launch Stack Overflow in Portuguese:
- "Not every developer in the world speaks English"
- "It’s almost impossible to feel like part of a community if you’re not highly proficient in the language."
- "Requiring that all aspiring devs “just go learn English” first isn’t who we want to be."
For each point that Jay lays out in reason for Stack Overflow in Portuguese, would it be so hard think about the Workplace and the people who use it? Does every company and employee in the world speak English? Can a non-native speaker be comfortable asking a question at the Workplace? Would an 55 year old employee at a Korean Chaebol just go and learn English?
My thought is that there should be a written and explicit policy such that people like me don't get confused. I hope it is reasonable to agree with that implicit rules are generally difficult to figure out, unless it is pointed out to you.
With this in mind, "The Workplace is a worldwide site." If there is consideration put into place to assist those whom made the effort of trying (i.e. asking a question that may not be the level of a fluent english speaker), why not make the consideration of assisting those whom made the effort, but just not in English? Why shut out those who are just on the cusp?
Admittedly, I may not be the best person to make this argument. My foreign language skills are subpar at best. But would it be difficult for a question to request for translational assistance when it is formed, are there not those who are fluent in a foreign language, knowledgable of the Workplace, and well-regarded?
Maybe the Workplace can become a melting-pot of cultures and industries, where people from all walks of life can be nice to one another.
But then again, it would appear that a consensus has been made.