English is considered by most to be a lingua franca for the developer community. From time to time issues written in another language are opened on GitHub projects that I manage, which I personally cannot read. I must then waste a lot of time trying to decipher Google's machine translation of a potentially complex and technical question.
Obviously I want to be as inclusive as possible, but deciphering the (often vague) issues from someone who is new to software development or the open-source community is difficult enough already, without the language barrier.
Most of the time (but not always), a non-English-speaking developer will run their text through Google Translate before posting. However this does little more beyond saving me a click, as I still have to attempt to decipher the machine translation. In fact this is not always successful, and I usually have to say something like "sorry, I do not understand what you are trying to say" and close the issue.
Should I have a policy on this? The way I see it, I have a few options:
- No policy (current paradigm)
- Require all issues to be in English, using machine translation when necessary
- Require all issues to be written in intelligible English
- Prefer English, but encourage a subset of widely-used non-English languages to encourage more efficient communication with other speakers of those languages. Forbid machine-translated content.
The way I see it, the last option is actually preferable to the current paradigm of machine-translating everything into English (and then presumably back into peoples' native languages).
For widely spoken languages, there is a good chance that another speaker of that language could find their issue and help them (note that Stack Overflow itself now has dedicated Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Japanese language communities). I could even add language labels where appropriate.