Hey, good to see you on here!
Except for the non-English sites being a mistake from the beginning. That’s a very valid excuse.
Having said that, serving up localized UI text to users with a different native language is a worthwhile goal. But promoting non-English content (particularly on skill-oriented Q&A sites; sites such as Spanish.SE dedicated specifically to the learning of a non-English language are different for obvious reasons) is a bad idea. Having people asking questions about general-interest topics in multiple languages causes harm in multiple ways:
- When people ask and answer questions that the majority of the community cannot understand, this will inherently lead to a lot of duplication, much of which will go undetected
- When people ask and answer non-duplicate questions that the majority of the community cannot understand, you get something even worse: the inaccessible isolation of useful knowledge
- When people are affirmatively encouraged to commit such harms against the community, it also harms them, particularly in technical subjects where English is the worldwide lingua franca for broader participation, by creating false expectations that will bite them later.
My take on non-English sites is basically, if this little boy could do it, so can anyone:
When I turned 11 we had to leave East Germany overnight because of the political orientation of my father. Now I was going to school in West Germany, which was American-occupied at that time. There in school all children were required to learn English and not Russian. To learn Russian had been difficult, but English was impossible for me. I thought my mouth was not made for speaking English! My teachers struggled. My parents suffered. And I knew English was definitely not my language.
But then something changed in my young life. Almost daily I rode my bicycle to the airport and watched airplanes take off and land. I read, studied, and learned everything I could find about aviation. It was my greatest desire to become a pilot. I could already picture myself in the cockpit of an airliner or in a military fighter plane. I felt deep in my heart this was my thing! Then I learned that to become a pilot I needed to speak English. Overnight, to the total surprise of everybody, it appeared as if my mouth had changed. I was able to learn English. It still took a lot of work, persistence, and patience, but I was able to learn English! Why? Because of … a strong motive!
– Dieter Uchtdorf, former German air force pilot, later a pilot and eventually Senior Vice President of Flight Operations with Lufthansa.
As far as I’m concerned, this is another “let’s not repeat SE’s mistakes” topic.