As this site is getting more and more popular, I forsee that more people will create one-time accounts, posting a question with a meaningless title (such as the above) and trivial content with no research effort (such as Japanese to English : need help with a sentence).

These questions currently get closed as "too localized" (as per What questions are not allowed on Japanese Language SE?) but still fill up the board in an unsightly manner. Since one-time accounts are used, etiquette considerations (e.g. How to title translation request) will not work.

I would prefer to move them someplace where they can get answered quickly and likewise quickly be forgotten about, so they do not obscure the more interesting questions. I am thinking of some kind of meta⁻¹ board ("meta" constituting a higher level of abstraction, meta⁻¹ therefore the "lower reaches").

How should we address rogue translation requests?


4 Answers 4


You can always downvote them. A score of -4 will push them off the default front page, both preventing them from obscuring more interesting questions and showing the few people that see them that these questions might not be a good idea (with a score below zero).

Alternatively, a more new user-friendly approach would be to just close the question as off-topic. When the new close reasons come out, we'll be able to specifically say "translation requests are off-topic" instead of the old closing as "too localized".

  • Thanks for pointing the -4 constraint out. That way we could quickly answer the question and get it off the screen. Jun 18, 2013 at 8:52

Dividing and subdividing the existing "need help" type questions into these cases:

  1. Answered, with accepted answer

  2. Answered, with no leading answer and no accepted answer

    1. Question asker (OP) has recently visited the site
      (Is 3 months a good time estimate for recent?)
    2. OP has not recently visited the site
  3. Unanswered

    1. OP has recently visited the site
    2. OP has not recently visited the site

I propose we keep type 1 questions since they've already concluded. We can edit the question title away from the vague sounding "need help" with something specific from the question body. If the question content appears too trivial, we can put it up for voting to be closed and let the community decide if we want to keep the question.

For type 2.1 questions, it seems that OP may be still invested in his question, we should attempt to edit the question to get a more specific scope or to prompt OP to develop the question. Failing that we vote to close.

I propose to vote type 2.2 questions for closing, and re-formulating and asking the question again if useful discussion has taken place in the comments or on chat about the question

Type 3 questions garner no answers for probably these two reasons:

  • The scope is too ill defined and nobody knows what to answer
  • It is very obviously a proofreading or a translation request

Again, we should edit the question for type 3.1 or prompt OP to develop the question. If not they should not be too much of a problem to vote close if the quality of the question is really lacking.


Auto-deletion should kick in for old (over a year) questions with zero or lower score, zero answers and one or less comments (see the Mothership for details). Moderators can also delete questions. Some time (48 hours) after closing 10k users can vote to delete, I believe (not sure if we have many/any of those here yet).

Closed questions can, in theory, be improved and reopened. We should aim for this - and most of these could be made into sensible questions with some editing and nudging of the poster. I would say:

  • Do not answer (removes any motivation for improvement of the question)
  • Comment, if more details are required from the poster to make the question into something sensible.
  • Edit, if it's just the title/formatting that needs fixing.
  • Flag, if it's obvious abuse of the system and needs deleting by a moderator.

If you want to see a list of the newest questions minus anything that's been closed, search for closed:0 then click "newest" or make this a bookmark. You can also use this with tags, e.g. the search [translation] closed:0 will show translation questions minus any that have been closed. Another is [translation] score:0 which shows only questions with a score of 0 or above.

ETA: just checked, access to delete votes takes only 2k here. I guess I don't check old closed questions.

  • Automatic deletion goes a little bit faster now under certain conditions. I don't think having the mods delete everything is a sustainable solution, and shifts a lot of the burden onto the moderators.
    – Troyen
    Jun 18, 2013 at 6:08
  • Sorry, I probably didn't make it clear - I would only think flags were for abuse like repeatedly posting new copies of closed questions in an attempt to get an answer or something like that.
    – nkjt
    Jun 18, 2013 at 7:47

The existing answers are correct but there is now a specific close reason for translation requests that don't show any effort/attempt by the asker. The specific off-topic reason to be used for such questions is:

Questions asking for translations are off-topic unless prior research effort is clearly indicated; we're here to help you learn, not provide a bulk translation service. See: We don't do translations.

It's also important not to answer those questions (including in the comments) as this encourages people to ask them in the future. If an asker gets the right answer, they quite often don't care whether the question gets closed or not.

  • Would ex post facto updates be reason to either leave it open or reopen a question? Generally speaking these seem to result in a quick "Google says...is that right?", which is only marginally more helpful and only 2 more seconds of effort.
    – Kaji
    Apr 30, 2014 at 6:49
  • @Kaji I admit that's tricky but I think that they should be reopen. For new translation questions, you wouldn't know if someone used Google translate and spent 5 seconds or put in a real effort unless they stated it explicitly. So all questions should be treated the same. When they are later viewed, that shouldn't matter if they were closed and reopened. There may be some edge cases though.
    – Szymon
    Apr 30, 2014 at 9:11

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