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I notice that there is a lack of a clearly defined policy for closing questions pertaining to translation. From the FAQ of the Chinese SE site, this is the current status:

Can I request a translation?

We do not forbid translation requests but note that this is not a translation service, so we will close any translation request that does not show research effort. Make sure you clearly show it in your question.

An attempt was made to clarify the situation here on Meta:

Translation: From any language to Chinese as long as: (1) you provide research effort, without it your question will be closed. (2) you provide a detailed explanation of the original expression word. From Chinese to other languages, please refer to the target language site.

As this is an on-going process that has not been incorporated into the FAQ, it would be worth further discussion by referencing to the policies of sister sites such as English SE and Japanese SE. To my dismay, it doesn't leave one any the wiser.

Upon further searching on the English SE Meta site, the following translation related questions are found:

And from Japanese SE Meta site, this is what I found:

What is clear from the answers is that questions asking for translation to a large chunk of text is definitely not allowed. But what is not so clear are questions pertaining to a short phrase or a sentence and whether translation from Chinese to English is allowed on Chinese SE.

I noted that this question is closed as off topic and coincidentally, the user has posted a meta question to clarify prior to asking it. So, maybe this could be used as a starting point for further discussion and clear up ambiguity which would be helpful to all users of the site.

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I closed that question because it didn't appear to be asking about Chinese. It was asking about how to describe the following punctuation in English.

/,/

The asker already knew how to describe it in Chinese, so it didn't seem appropriate for this site. As one of the comments suggested, it would probably be a good fit for the English Stack Exchange site.

As for what kind of translation questions are on topic for this site, I think the key is showing that you have already tried to translate it yourself. In this example, the question contains the results of Google translate (not the best technique, but it's something), and an attempt to look up some words at Wiktionary.

When I check Wiktionary there is no entry for 季度 but 季 says it is used to mean a quarter of a year or season.

That seems like the asker has made some effort.

I posted a translation question and included my attempt to translate it.

My best guess is that it means, "Seems like you found it." Is that right?

I feel annoyed when someone just posts a Chinese sentence and says, "What does this mean?" It seems like they aren't contributing anything to the process. Nobody's getting paid to work on this site, we're here because we're interested in the language, and we can learn better together than we can on our own.

I think a lot of the culture that grew up around asking technical questions in early newsgroups also applies in this kind of community. For a great distillation of that culture, read Eric S. Raymond's How to Ask Questions The Smart Way.

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  • Thanks for clarifying. This is useful :) – 杨以轩 Oct 19 '12 at 6:21
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As per our FAQ, this site is not a translation site, it is a Q&A site for experts, language enthusiasts and people who have interest in the Chinese language.

Here is how you know:

  • Are you asking a question or are you asking for a translation? Refer to the FAQ, we are not a translation site we are a Q&A site. Please translate this for me is off topic as there is no problem to solve. The asker should have a problem to solve, they shouldn't be looking for a translation service.

  • They made some personal effort into solving the problem. Did the asker check a dictionary, Google translate, wiktionary, Google search etc?

  • There is reasonable purpose to their question or is the asker just curious. E.g. "How do I say I love Hello Kitty in Japanese?" on the Japanese site. This question is on topic, just say it's impossible to find, but doesn't benefit anybody.*

The fourth point, which is the problem with the closed question you refer to, is that it has to relate to the Chinese language. The closed question you provided had Chinese as part of the base thinking, but it is in no way related to the problem. The question that person needs answering is:

How do I say this in English "\,\"? Is "encircle the comma using slash" right? I'm guessing the word 'encircle' is not accurate.

Really, the Chinese has nothing to do with it and doesn't need to be mentioned in either the question on the answer. So the person has a genuine question and can't find a suitable answer, but it is off topic because it is not related to the Chinese language.

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  • Yes, I agree and can see why the said question is off topic. It would be great if someone can touch up the FAQ to guide users in the right direction. – 杨以轩 Oct 19 '12 at 6:31
  • This question would be a perfect fit for the upcoming English Language Learners.se – deutschZuid Nov 5 '12 at 1:56

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