On this question asking about contact tracing in South Korea a user wrote an answer to the question in Korean (now undeleted): https://politics.stackexchange.com/a/52880/19301

In the comments, another user translated it using google translate, and it appears to be an accurate and useful answer to the question, though it's lacking sources. Shortly after this, though, the answer was deleted.

What should have happened here? On StackOverflow, I know that the the rule is that questions and answers should not be translated, both since a translator might make a mistake, and because if the OP cannot speak English, they won't be able to answer important follow-up questions or confirm that the answer is correct. Do we/should we have a similar rule here? In this case, the translated answer seemed like a good one which completely answered the original question, but the language barrier would likely have gotten in the way of getting sources for it.

  • The strange here is that users know obviously enough English to have read the question? Original language as a quote may even be beneficial. If a user asks for help, because langugae skills are lacking, it's one thing. But this also looks like lazy copypasta, dumping just some very cheap plagiarism on us? Apr 20, 2020 at 20:48
  • @LangLangC Maybe? They could have used google translate. But that's certainly another risk I didn't think of.
    – divibisan
    Apr 20, 2020 at 20:54
  • Unsure of the dynamics at play with that post. New users especially should get a lenient approach & chance to improve, but if that doesn't follow (in this case source attribution should be the minimum; in such cases easy to see by them earning 2–3 newbie badges), then a delete in time – is quite appropriate. Conversely, there was no (improving) edit to the post but an undelete vote? Personal opinion: if OP doesn't edit a bit, then I won't vote for undelete either. But the general case "non-E A" still might need a proper A here ;) Apr 20, 2020 at 21:01
  • 2
    @LаngLаngС It's easier to read than to write in a foreign language. Apr 21, 2020 at 5:53
  • With Fizz on reading vs writing facility. I can read Spanish, kinda. Wouldn't want to post in it. Second, while bilingual in French, I will often run things through Google Translate, rather than translating myself. It's faster and good enough 90% of the time. Third the paragraph in question seems roughly in line with the expectations that one would have re. landline usage in this case, so I doubt we are missing much wrt imperfect translation. I'd be more worried about an un-authoritative source and that's where a missing link is an issue. All in all, the answer is better here than not. Apr 21, 2020 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


This is the Meta.SO in question

Non-English posts should normally not be translated into English by anyone other than the [Original Poster (OP)], unless there is indication in the OP's statements that they actually can speak English. The OP needs to be able to respond to feedback provided in English (by comments, answers, or Help Center content). Translating a post of a non-English speaker sets up the OP, and anyone participating on the post, for a poor experience, due to the OP not being able to follow and respond to comments, understand answers, or get assistance from the Help Center.

While I appreciate that the user found an answer and went through the trouble of writing an answer in their native tongue, there's two problems with editing in Google Translate

  1. They can't interact in any meaningful way after posting. While an irate comment noted that nobody had explained the English rules to this poster, it also failed to note that on Politics we like to comment. A lot. This user might not be able to meaningfully react to comments.
  2. Google Translate is nice, but it still gets things wrong from time to time. Google Translate error

    Google Translate is a "good enough" system, but it still misses the nuances of language. Relying on it solely to bridge that gap is a disaster waiting to happen.

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