This issue came up before, but it seemed to me the focus was on the content of questions and answers. I think when it comes to content, this is a site targetted at English speakers wanting to learn Japanese, and that part is working out fine. The backbone of most questions is in English, and the target is Japanese, and that all makes sense.

However, I think there's an issue in that, possibly more than most Stack Exchange communities, we are hobbled by the fact that a lot of people who could potentially provide good answers and might enjoy being a part of this are hesitant because of the English interface around all the discussion.

Using SE takes some getting used to. A person who might be able to read enough English to answer a question about Japanese doesn't necessarily want to read all sorts of instructions in English on how to get to those questions. The implications of voting a question up or down, what to do with error messages, what the badges mean... all those kinds of things are not so self evident, and the level of effort required to work them out might be too high when it requires also struggling through English.

It's an issue of friction. I know myself that even though I can read Japanese, I sometimes skim and skip over Japanese web sites that might otherwise be interesting for me to participate in just because it can be just a little too tiring to read all the Japanese required just to make the initial steps in.

It seems that full localization is not going to happen soon on JLU, so I'm wondering if there's any way we can create a FAQ, an introduction, a guide, or something in Japanese that acts a sort of entry way and assistance for people who are native Japanese speakers.

I think the scale and activity of the community is fine, even though we're not ripe for getting out of Beta status yet. I'm only proposing that we consider ways of enticing people who can expand the pool of quality answers.

So, all in all, what I'm saying is, until such a time as a user can choose their UI language, can we create an intro page and/or set of instructions in Japanese to help pave the way for Japanese speakers to put their energy into the questions and answers, and not the interface?

I'm willing to start writing such an intro/guide, but I wouldn't know where to put it...

  • 1
    +1. Yes I totally agree. Even though I understand Chinese, I have a very high propensity to ignore material written in it in favour of English material. I can only guess that those that mainly use Japanese would feel the same.
    – Flaw Mod
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 13:40
  • +1 I do the same thing about skimming Japanese text when I could read it if I sat down and tried...and I'm pretty sure if this site was in Japanese I wouldn't be using it, so I think you have a really good idea :D Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 15:09
  • 1
    I think it could be added as a link to a meta post at the top of the FAQ.
    – cypher
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 0:04
  • Could users who are native Japanese speakers but are weak at English be a liability, rather than an asset?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 3:51
  • 4
    @AndrewGrimm: Anyone can be a liability or an asset. It depends on their personality. I know some people who are fully bilingual who are liabilities. The point is not to make wild generalizations about types of people. The point is to make the most opportunity for the most people to get involved, and then the systems in place on JLU will let helpful people rise up and unhelpful people not get much action.
    – Questioner
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 5:23

2 Answers 2


Note: The Japanese localization project has been moved to StackApps and GitHub, so for more up-to-date information please visit https://stackapps.com/questions/2978/japanese-stack-exchange-localization and https://github.com/cyphr/Stack-Exchange-Japanese-Localization.

Old, now out-of-date text: I've started creating a demonstration localization into Japanese for this website using a JavaScript user script that can be used with Greasemonkey. It can be downloaded from http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/122087.

  • There are probably lots of translation errors, but you have to start from somewhere.
  • A lot of the interface has been internationalized, including the toolbars/tabs/buttons/links etc. I've tried to convert the SE dates/times to the Japanese format.
  • I tried to translate around 2/6 pages of of the most common tags. The badges used by 10 or more people on the main JLU website have also been translated. The "tag details" popup on tag links doesn't currently work once the tags have been localized, I think because it needs the original text inside them.
  • The tabs in the user profile page don't work as expected the first time they're clicked for now, I might try to fix that later and I haven't tried to translate a lot of the longer explanations, for example the longer help explaining the MarkDown editor etc yet.

Anyway, I think I'll leave it as it is for now, but I'm interested in everyone's opinions. Do you think it's viable/a good idea etc?

Here's a quick screenshot of what it currently looks like for people without Firefox and Greasemonkey:

enter image description here

  • Thanks for the effort. If I understand Greasemonky, though, it would require that the person who uses it install both Greasemonkey and your script in order to use it...? If that's the case, it might be a little tricky to get people to go through all the stages necessary to set it up. However, I think it's potentially a good thing... even if only a limited number of people used it, if we could establish a good set of interface translations now, then when Stack Exchange did fully support localization, we'd be totally ready to go!
    – Questioner
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 10:55
  • @DaveMG if no-one uses this script that's the way it is, but I'd really like to see this site localized and I figured I might as well try. It's written in JavaScript with jQuery, so it's theoretically possible to install it with this website. But there's still a lot more work to do, and I'm not getting my hopes up yet. I guess we'll see what happens :D
    – cypher
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 11:18
  • If nothing else, the SE devs may be able to use parts of the script if they ever decide to make a Japanese interface. Sort of how YOU's script for furigana got adopted into the site itself.
    – Troyen
    Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 6:12
  • Yep, it all sounds good. I'll try and install the Greasemonkey add on and see if I can run your thing sometime soon.
    – Questioner
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 11:34
  • @cypher your scripts works well using chrome.
    – Nap
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 2:46
  • @cypher: to answer your question, yes I think it is a very good idea. I can't comment about technical viability but I would suggest something logically near the title of "Japanese Language and Usage" in Japanese to get hooked by the search engines. (something like 日本語を勉強している?:言語と使い方 (?))
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 12:52
  • @Tim currently it's just a client-side thing written in JavaScript, so basically Google and other search engines can't see it and it doesn't make any difference from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective but if Stack Exchange gets officially localized it might be possible to put something like that in the Japanese site description.
    – cypher
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 22:25

Is your proposal only about a sort of translation of the FAQ, as your question-body suggests, or also the whole site, so even the buttons, the section titles, etc. as your title suggests? I'm not sure I understood that completely...

For the second thing, the "problem" is also the implementing phase, so after the translations are provided, who takes care about the site would need to include a "language-change" option and translate all the strings (i.e. the parts of text in the code that we see as "Post your answer") from English to Japanese.

For the first thing instead, i.e. the FAQ, it would be much simpler and I agree with the proposal cypher made in the comments, and actually I was coming to say that same thing. :P

So my suggestion would be this one:

Post a link in the FAQ (the text-link would be in Japanese I suppose) to a Meta Post, possibly locked. I say locked because only Mods should be able to modify it, as the FAQ are only editable by Mods.

Note that I'm not saying only Mods can write and create those FAQ, this will be done by the community as a whole. I am saying that possible updates of the FAQ must be made by the Mods, so you avoid random people editing randomly and risking ruining the FAQ.

Some might ask, why not post it directly in the FAQ?

That's a good question, but that would unnecessarily clutter the FAQ section that, in case you don't know, has only one part that is editable, the first one. So you'd have a FAQ in English, then the same in Japanese (here finished the editable part) then again in English... It would create unnecessary cluttering, in my opinion.

If you disagree or if I'm missing something, please comment! :)

  • I don't understand why the code would need to change (of course I'm not a programmer...) if we were to provide the translations of "Post your answer" in the FAQ, or wherever it ends up going ^.^ Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 17:43
  • @silvermaple I didn't explain myself well maybe lol... The code would need no change at all I think, just the text strings, but that was a side thing...
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 19:26
  • Oh I see! No worries, all that stuff usually goes over my head anyway :) Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 20:31
  • @silvermaple "goes over my head"? What does it mean? :P
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 20:44
  • Oh, it means it's hard for me to understand ;) Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 3:58
  • @Alenanno: There seems to be some miscommunication here. It is precisely because SE does not support true localization that I am proposing that we look for alternate ways of making the site easier for Japanese speakers to participate. A post, either in meta or the main site, or somewhere, is a fine idea. I'm just not sure that the question/answer format would lend itself to being a good instructional for something as wide as how to use this site. I'm not sure how to set up Community Wiki's, but that might be the way to go.
    – Questioner
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 10:59
  • My idea is that you first create a meta post where people contribute about the FAQ content in Japanese... When everything is ready and formatted appropriately, the mods will open a new meta post, make it CW (only mods can), and lock it right away (so no-one else can edit without permission). It will be basically be a single post, it doesn't matter if it's called "question"... What do you think?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 11:02
  • @Alenanno: Sounds good. Let's do it!
    – Questioner
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 11:33
  • @DaveMG Glad you liked it! :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 21:37

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