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Someone has recently asked as to whether we allow questions and answers to be provided completely in Chinese on this site.

If you review every question and answer on the site currently you will notice that all questions and answers contain either a majority of English or the answer in Chinese with the English accompanying the answer/question.

As a moderator our policy has always been to temporarily close answers which are completely in Chinese until the English has been provided.

The original thinking behind this was the purpose of the site is to answer questions for learners of Chinese in English. If it is not possible for beginner and intermediate learners to understand the answers then the scope of the site is narrowed. It is essentially a courtesy to those who are learning the language.

The other issue is of quality, so far the majority of answers provided completely in Chinese are of very poor quality. We get two types of answers, ones that look like they were copied out of a text book or ones that look like they were written in Twitter / 微信 etc. They are simply not helpful.

If you would like to change the sites policy to no longer require English as part of every answer please feel free to add your reasoning below. If there is no strong consensus to change I will be reviewing all of the FAQs etc. to ensure the current policy is clear.

  • Please note some of the help / info / FAQ topics have been provided by the network and do not accurately reflect the currently policy of requiring English, please don't simply post a link pointing out this contradiction. Refer to what is being done in practice not what is being said. – going Mar 3 '14 at 5:18
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I think the current policy is very clear and there is no need to change this requirement:

  • If the question is in English, please answer in English;
  • If the question is in Chinese, please answer in Chinese.

Firstly, if the person can only answer in Chinese when the asker post in English, there is a high probability that:

  1. The asker could not understand the answer;
  2. The answerer misinterpreted the question and gave an irrelevant answer

Either way, the post is not going to be useful to the OP. The converse is also true, i.e. when the asker post in Chinese, but the person answer in English.

Secondly, any attempt by another person to translate the post to English might distort the original meaning in the answer, and the answerer most likely wouldn't know. Also, not many people are willing to do bulk translation of answers for free.

Thirdly, there is no policy stating that questions could not be asked in pure Chinese. The site does cater to not just English speakers learning Chinese, but also Chinese speakers trying to improve their language skills. If there are indeed questions in pure Chinese, then, we should not expect answers to be provided in English.

So, in line with the current policy as quoted above, we do accept questions and answers written completely in Chinese.

  • +1. I agree with all your points except the last one. I am neutral about questions written entirely in Chinese, but I'm not sure if this is really what the proposers of the main site intended to allow. I believe that your statement "The site does cater to ... also Chinese speakers trying to improve their language skills" is true, but that's different from saying that the site caters the needs of Chinese speakers who only write their questions in Chinese. – user4086 Mar 3 '14 at 13:15
  • Thanks for your answer. I just want to point out again that currently we don't have any questions written in 100% Chinese with answers written in 100% Chinese. That is the "written" policy, but it was written by someone from Stack Exchange not by one of the mods here. I am happy to revise but this is not the current policy. – going Mar 3 '14 at 22:51
  • @user1551, yes, Chinese speakers who know very little English would have difficulty using the site. – 杨以轩 Mar 4 '14 at 7:05
  • @xiaohouzi79, can you clarify your intention of asking this question? Do you want to disallow questions written in Chinese just because there isn't any at the moment, or do you want to disallow answers written completely in Chinese even when the question is written in Chinese? – 杨以轩 Mar 4 '14 at 7:11
  • @QuestionOverflow - Based on the content we currently have in the site (4.5k+ questions and answers) we already have a standard in place. People smarter than myself thought that up as best practice and things are running well. I am reluctant to say lets go ahead and start including Chinese only questions and answers because it is a BIG change to the way things are now. Also I don't see a real need outside of some dude showing off. If you are a Chinese speaking native you are not going to come here to ask an expert level question because there aren't people at that level here. – going Mar 4 '14 at 22:39
  • @QuestionOverflow - I don't want to force a policy on everyone, but you need to seriously consider what the site is already doing and whether adding something new is going to be beneficial to the people who are using the site. – going Mar 4 '14 at 22:45
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    @xiaohouzi79, as it stands, there is no policy to explicitly disallow questions written completely in Chinese. If you want to implement this, then you should make it clear in your question title. But if your objective is to reduce low quality answers that are written completely in Chinese, then, the current policy is working fine and tweaking it will not help improve the situation as these people would not be bothered to read the FAQ or whatever policies that are written in English. – 杨以轩 Mar 5 '14 at 3:16
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    Further, I don't see how the inclusion of a few Chinese only questions will cause a drastic change to the nature of this site, which is still predominantly in English. It will remain so in the foreseeable future as long as the FAQ, meta, site title, tags and all are still in English. Just like how dialects cater to a specific interest group, depending on the language ability of each individual, there will always be people being excluded. By excluding pure Chinese questions, you will be excluding questions in which only a native Chinese can answer. – 杨以轩 Mar 5 '14 at 3:36
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This constraint doesn't make much sense. Just see all other language SE such as Spanish and French. There are bunches of questions both asked and answered purely in Spanish/French. And as a Spanish learner myself, I feel strongly that asking questions and communicating in the language I'm learning helps my language skills much more than asking in English. It's true that beginners might not understand those questions, but they are beneficial to intermediate/advanced learners and make a healthy community. I don't see why Chinese should be treated differently.

If your target is to monitor and close low-quality Q&As then just follow SE policies and do it. Maybe some of them are in Chinese, maybe some are not. The assumption that "all all-Chinese Q&A are of low-quality" is irrational and potentially harmful to the development of this site, as it's this practice that would bring a truly "narrowing" effect.

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If I see an answer completely in Chinese on an English question, I will usually add a comment asking for at least a brief English version added to the end. Otherwise, there's a good chance that the original poster won't understand the answer.

If we were to see more answers completely in Chinese, we would need at least one moderator who is fluent enough to deal with any problems that come up on those answers. I'm only an intermediate speaker, not fluent.

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Every policy is subject to revision. For the moment, I think it doesn't hurt to allow questions written in Chinese. The community can keep a neutral stance until some serious issues arise.

That said, by having too many questions written in Chinese, those written in English will be easily driven out from the front page, and novice learners of Chinese may have difficulties in finding a question that they can understand. So, even if questions entirely written in Chinese are allowed, I think users shouldn't be encouraged to post such questions.

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