The language of Stack Exchange is English. On this site, many answers (and questions) will also involve Hebrew, and we don't want to discourage that.

This answer contains a citation in English and then an extensive quote in Hebrew. This isn't the first time we've seen this pattern. To a reader who does not understand the Hebrew it is, effectively, a link-only answer, which is not considered an answer on Stack Exchange. But, on the other hand, the answer does provide content to those who can read the Hebrew, which some readers here do, so it's a little different than just a link.

Ideally somebody who can read the Hebrew would add a summary in English and then the answer would be a full answer. In cases where that doesn't happen, what if anything should we do with such answers, which sometimes get flagged?

  • 1
    "The language of Stack Exchange is English." That's not entirely accurate. Plenty of site use other languages to different degrees.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 15:31
  • 3
    @DoubleAA SE has a few sites that are specifically non-English, but this MSE post seems to call for English otherwise. (I've seen discussions elsewhere too but am failing to find more.) Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 15:41
  • 1
    @DoubleAA, our jargon policy asks "Will any English speaker who is interested in this content be able to understand what it means without additional research?" (emphasis mine - for this context). So, standing policy on MY, at least, is that the language of discourse is English.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:21
  • Is "we" moderators responding to a flag, non-mod users with edit priviliges, or a different set?
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:23
  • @IsaacMoses I agree completely. It's not an SE policy though.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:38
  • @IsaacMoses "we" is everybody who can act on a post, including mods and reviewers responding to flags. (NAA and VLQ flags send a post to the review queue.) Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


There are a few things we can do if we see these answers.

  • Provide a translation. This is optimal, though as you say, often doesn't happen, because it's a lot of work.

  • Provide a summary of the Hebrew. Also very good. And, if someone actually takes the time to read the whole thing before upvoting, they should have a good understanding and be able to do that. But not everyone does.

Some easier things to do:

  • Leave a comment asking the OP to do one of the above. This is easy enough, and lets them know that their answer can be more accessible in English (if they didn't already).

  • Downvote. This can be done in accordance with the one above. The post is unclear -- that is a reason for downvoting.

  • 2
    Realize, though, that your third option presumes that the user is still around and active.
    – MTL
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 19:14
  • 1
    RE: downvoting. Doing so when an answer is good, despite the lack of English seems a bit harsh. Maybe a mod flag? @MonicaCellio Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 17:41
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt Downvoting may sound harsh, but really it's not. It just sends a signal that this is not a useful answer as it currently stands. Also, I don't think you can ping the mods like that, try chat.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 19:52

Answers that contain no information other than a reference and information that is not intelligible to people who can only read English is, as you suggest, effectively a link-only answer. It is therefore not an acceptable answer and should have one of the following things done to them:

  • Fix, by adding a translation and/or summary of what the reference and Hebrew text say, as recommended by Scimonster.

  • Commentify - A mod converts the reference and Hebrew text if it'll fit into a comment on the question, so that someone can come along and take the suggestion to make an actual answer out of it.

  • Delete.

If we only comment (without subsequent action) and downvote, it makes it seem that these are sub-ideal but existant answers, despite the fact that they aren't.

  • What if it won't all fit into a single comment (as in Monica's example)? Should the mods convert part of it into a single comment, using their best judgment to include only the most crucial text? Should they parse it into however many comments it takes to keep all the text, despite the possibility of cluttering the comment section? Or should they decide which approach to take depending on their judgment of how much of the text is needed to convey the point and how much it would clutter the comment section?
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 23:40
  • @Fred Deletion altogether is a perfectly valid option. If there's a reference available, that's quite sufficient to be a helpful comment. We have no call to preserve, indefinitely, every but of content of any value that ever gets posted here.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 23:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .