It is worth noting how popular questions in English are on this site (this is just a recent example) compared to those asked in Italian. I had always assumed that this site was the Italian version of what EL&U is for native English/American speakers, but I was wrong.

My impression is that the nature of this site is essentially that of Italian for foreigners. Though there is nothing wrong with it, I think there are important implications for the kind of questions and answers that are to be expected here.

It is clear that the use of the Italian language limits the usage and the helpfullness of the site so, probably, all questions and answers should be in English and, for instance, rules about possible translation requests of foreigh expressions into Italian should be less strict than they actually are.

My impression is that some minor changes might attract more users and make the site more enjoyable to foreigners and at the same time increase the "traffic" in terms of "Q&A".

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    I'd like to see this question in "bilingual version" English+Italian so that even the users that don't speak English can partecipate. Apr 6 '16 at 19:52
  • I agree with you. However, to be honest it is unclear what you are asking. Moreover, this might be a possible duplicate: meta.italian.stackexchange.com/questions/1/… May 6 '16 at 22:10

I understand your point but, personally, I won't be interested in such a kind of site. One of the aspects that makes this site attractive to me is the possibility to express myself in Italian and to communicate with other people using Italian. Without this possibility, I'll lose my interest in it (and remember that I'm not Italian). I'll be glad if there are lots of questions like the one you mention in your post that make this site popular but, in my opinion, restricting the language of questions and answers to English would limit the helpfulness of the site and won't be a good idea.

Of course we expect that this site attracts the attention of Italian learners and it may be easier for a beginner to express him/herself in English (or maybe no: once I have learned some Italian, I've always found easier to express myself in Italian rather than in English). But I think that the best way to learn a language is trying to use this language as much as you can. So I'll encourage these learners to write their questions in Italian once they have learned some of the language and not to be afraid of making errors: some Italian speakers will correct them (and this is also an interesting way of learning). In the future, maybe the OP of the question you mention would find useful to write his or her questions in Italian if he or she continues learning Italian and using this site.

This is my personal point of view, of course, but I think it wouldn't be a good idea to apply the changes that you are proposing. By the way, a lot time ago I wrote this question in English. But, if you measure the popularity of a question by the number of views, you can see that there are many other questions of mine that are more popular that this one. Or maybe the point is that my questions are not popular at all, but, do we really want to restrict this site to "only popular questions"?

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    Thanks for sharing your view. You confirm that your interest for the site is as a foreigner who wants to learn or improve her Italian, and that is what the site is actually for. My suggestion to make a more widespread usage of the English language is aimed at attracting more users who can't express themselves in Italian as you do. This site needs more users, more activity to survive.
    – user519
    Apr 1 '16 at 7:05
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    I agree wholeheartedly with Charo. I have no time to do some statistics, but there is a significant percentage of questions asked in Italian, either by Italians or by people with a very good grasp of Italian, often involving fine points of grammar or lexicon, which would gain nothing from being in English (being in any case perfectly on topic but of scarce interest for a beginner) and would lose much, forcing an Italian or a third-language speaker to phrase it in a language not relevant to the question.
    – DaG
    Apr 1 '16 at 20:08
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    And moreover, why would forcing all question to be in one language bring about a gain in activity? For instance, we'd lose the involvement of users who can't use English (Italian is not studied just in anglophone countries, far from it).
    – DaG
    Apr 1 '16 at 20:10
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    To add to @DaG's brilliant comments, the site is not only intended for learners of the language but also for natives who want to deepen their knowledge of their own tongue. I actually think this component is pretty weak at the moment, because there is no critical mass of users using it in this way.
    – martina
    Apr 1 '16 at 20:55
  • «we'd lose the involvement of users who can't use English» So shall the defects of our schooling systems be an excuse to disrespect the primary target of this website (i.e. foreigners who want to learn)? Maybe the fact that basically all other websites on the SE/SO network are localized in English (both in the contents and in the labels/buttons) should provide a guideline. IMHO, of course... I still answer questions posed in Italian if I can help, even if I do not think they fit perfectly. May 6 '16 at 22:13
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    @AndreaLazzarotto: Let me remind you that there are non-Italian, non-English speaking people who study, or are interested in, Italian. And the only language certainly in common among people studying Italian is Italian! :-)
    – DaG
    May 10 '16 at 8:22
  • The whole GUI of this website is in English and AFAIK English is considered the "international language". I wish I could travel across the world talking to people in Italian, but that would be quite impossible to do. May 10 '16 at 9:37

For the English language, SE network has two sites: ELL for learners and EL&U for native speakers and those who already know English very well and just want to clarify a specific issue. Any other language SE sites (German, French, Russian, etc.) has just one place for both these user groups. It's normal that learners have more questions than native speakers. But we have already discussed and decided that both Italian and English are accepted as working languages - just as it is the case on other SE language sites. The important thing is to ensure that the answers are given in the same language as the original question, so that the OP would be able to understand those answers.


Being the Italian section of SE I find it silly to force people to ask or reply in English. I find it a plus that there is the possibility to ask and receive answers in different languages. The ones that can't write a question in Italian would already use English anyways.

For replies I see it's customary to use the same language as the question but I would specify it as courtesy rather than a rule and would like to see also replies in Italian if that's the only language an user feels comfortable using.

Personally I would accept a question in any language provided they can attach at least an automated English version. It might help people that are not fluent in English and cant write in Italian to ask a question rather than shy away from the site. There's even the chance they might receive an useful answer directly in their native language.

Rather I'd like to see Italian more used in Meta, this part of the site should include everybody, I think bilingual questions (if one speaks both English and Italian) would be a rather unique thing.

  • Technically speaking, it is not the "Italian section of SE". It is the section of SE where speaking about the Italian language is on topic. «The ones that can't write a question in Italian» The spirit of this network is actually that Q&A should be relevant for several people, including people coming from search engines... not just who asked. May 6 '16 at 22:14
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    We have already discussed and decided that it's important to ensure that the answers are given in the same language as the original question, so that the OP would be able to understand those answers. All questions and answers on any Meta site should be in English (or at least, have an English translation) - that's the official requirement of the StackExchange network.
    – I.M.
    May 9 '16 at 12:52

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