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By far the largest type of question we get that leads to closes is translation requests. I feel like people wouldn’t create such questions if it was clear that we won’t respond to them.

Is there any way to put a visually distinct note on the ask question page that includes some text similar to our close reason for no translations?

Questions asking for translations, transcriptions or proofreading are off-topic unless prior research effort is clearly indicated; we're here to help you learn, not to provide a bulk translation service nor to proofread your translations or transcriptions. See: We don't do translations.

(If possible, only showing it for new or low-rep users would be nice, but I’m not sure what’s possible with the current tech stack.)

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  • 5
    Would be nice to have some stats about this (e.g. proportion of such questions asked by new users, share of them among all closed questions etc.) Jan 15 '20 at 23:30
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And it's done -

A screenshot of the Draft your question box on the ask page (see text below)

Is your question about the Japanese language?

We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed. Questions should also be educational to other people.

Questions asking for translations, transcriptions or proofreading are off-topic, and will be closed. We're here to help you learn, not to provide a translation service. If you're struggling to understand a word or phrase, frame your question around asking for help understanding the specific word or clause in the phrase you're struggling with.

Provide details. Share your research.

If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.


I'm recommending an adjustment to the text above - and I'm sorry this response has been delayed.

Questions asking for translations, transcriptions or proofreading are off-topic, and will be closed. We're here to help you learn, not to provide a translation service. If you're struggling to understand a word or phrase, frame your question around asking for help understanding the specific word or clause in the phrase you're struggling with.

My concern is that the tip suggested in the proposed message won't be helpful to users who are trying to ask a question. They need guidance that helps them frame their question in a way that is on topic here, which is what I'm trying to do with the new text.

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  • Thanks for the adjustment! I like what you’ve added, but I also like something about the original — namely that many new users are completely lacking the perspective that one of the purposes of the site is to build a generally useful repository of Q&As for future visitors. I think it’d be effective to at least mention that goal in some form, so people can reorient and realize that generalizing their question to some degree (rather than having it over-specific to their exact case) could result in improved question quality from the perspective of future readers. Nov 2 '20 at 16:38
  • In other words, I think it’s useful to convey not only the direct instruction but the intent behind it, so people can orient and make good decisions on their own. But anyways, I’m not too concerned about the specifics of this message and would be happy to have any rendition of it, so if you disagree I’m fine with your version as-is. Nov 2 '20 at 16:40
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    @DariusJahandarie I hope this captures enough of what you're looking for - thanks for your patience with us!
    – Catija StaffMod
    Dec 3 '20 at 20:19
  • Yay!! Thanks for your help Catija! Dec 4 '20 at 0:33
  • One piece of feedback is that this doesn’t seem to show on the mobile ask question page. Or well, it does, but only which you click on a piece of UI that shows it (I imagine less than 1% of people do that). I think it’d be nicer to have it show expanded by default, though probably under the form field. I imagine this sort of cross-site UI change is much more procedurally complex to make happen, but if it’s easy to forward it as feedback to your designer that’d be appreciated. Dec 8 '20 at 21:33
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I'm not sure about visually distinct but we can customize the content in this box:

Ask a question page with the "how to ask" section on the right circled to indicate the part of the page being mentioned

We can change the text to meet your needs. For example, the Cooking site's Ask page says:

Ask a question page on Cooking. The How to Ask section on the right is circled to indicate a special addition that reads "Please note that requests for recipes are considered off topic, and will be closed."

Write up what you'd like to have this box say and I'll see if we can get it changed for y'all.

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  • Out of curiosity, can we add links to this box as well? I.E. could whatever text we put in this box contain a link to the asking page from the help center?
    – Mindful
    Mar 31 '20 at 0:48
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    We've been talking over the text in chat. We're hoping we can get something added soon: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/54150395#54150395
    – user1478
    Apr 21 '20 at 15:23
  • @Catija Ping, is this something that would be easy to update now that we have the text (see snailplane’s link ^)? Aug 19 '20 at 3:19
  • @snailplane make the text an answer and mark the question status-review
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 19 '20 at 5:11
  • I asked Darius Jahandarie to post the answer, and I marked it as status-review.
    – user1478
    Aug 28 '20 at 5:37
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After discussion in chat, we came up with the following text (approved by site moderators):

Questions asking for translations, transcriptions or proofreading are off-topic, and will be closed. We're here to help you learn, not to provide a translation service. Tip: ask yourself: "Would my question be educational for other people as well?"

If this could be added to the “How to Ask” side box on the Ask Question page that would be great.

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  • Can I vote against any changes? I like the current system. Thank you.
    – Ragaroni
    Oct 6 '20 at 20:53
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    @Ragaroni Not sure what changes you’re referring to? This is just adding an extra explanatory note to the Ask Question page since we get a lot of off-topic questions of this nature. I don’t think that constitutes a “changed system”... Oct 6 '20 at 23:00

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