We have had some translation requests and Nathaniel wrote a nice guide for asking them. One of the key points is that questions should show effort to solve the problem before coming here. But how much effort is enough? How little effort is a sufficient reason to close?

For example, consider such demonstrations of effort:

  • Google translate gives <insert gibberish>.
  • I tried to translate it myself and got <insert gibberish>.
  • I tried to translate it myself and got <insert attempt>. Here is why I think this may be wrong: …
  • This is what I want to say in Latin: <insert detailed description>.
  • This is what I want to say in Latin: <insert description>. I looked up some words from an online dictionary and these Latin words seem to be most appropriate: <insert words>.
  • Just translate these words from English to Latin for me.
  • I want to give my company/project/dog a Latin name. I came up with this but I'm unsure if it's Latin: <insert catchphrase>.

What demonstrations of effort are clearly insufficient, and what are clearly sufficient? There is inevitably a gray area in between, but it would be nice to give clear guidelines to new users asking such questions.

Most questions related to this meta question can be found under the tag . This tag seems quite popular among newcomers as one might expect.

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    This is an important issue. What's also important: what should we do when the criteria are not met? Comment? Close? Or should we have two tiers of criteria: one for saying "this question is good", and another, lower one for saying "we won't close this question at the moment"? – Cerberus Jun 4 '16 at 23:20
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    @Cerberus, yes, we need to decide how to react to different amounts of effort. It might help to create a custom reason to close which politely tells what is wrong and emphasizes that it can be reopened if improved. But we need to be able to point to some specific criteria to make it clear what is needed. I agree, there are many tiers of criteria. Criteria for closing are most important to me, as they steer the content of the site. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 5 '16 at 8:33

Here my opinion in the form of an incomplete answer. I would like to see more other views of the matter.

A good translation request should

  1. explain what the asker wants to express in Latin (translating short phrases without context is often impossible),
  2. give a list of appropriate words found from a dictionary (start with an English word, get a list of translations, look up a list of English translations of each one, then pick the most suitable ones),
  3. give an attempted translation with own assessment of its validity, and
  4. ask a question.

I don't mind if part 3 is missing if the first two things are well done. Judging by my experience of translating things to Latin upon request, part 1 is extremely important. It is too harsh to require all these points, but demanding the first two would not make a bad policy. It might be good to give a list of explicit requirements or give some model questions to help.

This is what a good translation request might look like, in my opinion:

I have made a painting of a dog who cannot sleep because the cat is so loud. The curator of an art exhibition asked me to give my painting a Latin name. The title in English would be something like "The dog who cannot sleep because of the cat's noises". The cat is not meowing, but banging kettles together. I looked up some words from an online dictionary, and some were easy: dog (canis), who (quis), can (posse), not (non), sleep (dormire), because (quia), cat (feles). There were several words for noise, and I think strepitus is best here. Or would turba or tumultus be better? I haven't studied any Latin. How can I combine these words into a sentence? Can you please explain what you did so I might do the same in future myself, especially if the structure is the same?

(I might offer Canis qui felis strepitus causa quiescere non potest with some explanations, but that is irrelevant.)

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    Part of what makes this tricky is that we don't have enough non-mods to close questions on their own, and I like to have a pretty bright line for moderator closures. I certainly agree that #1 is absolutely necessary. I'm okay with quickly closing if it's not there. I'm more ambivalent about #2 and #3 – we could close immediately and be prepared to quickly reopen after editing, but that's potentially unfriendly. We could comment for #2 and #3, but then answers will start to come in. Neither is really ideal, but that of course is the challenge. – Nathaniel is protesting Jun 8 '16 at 16:29
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    A question containing 2 can be usually asked by itself as "what's the difference between these words". Even with minimal input (search for an English word in an En → La dictionary and list all hits), these questions do somehow generate interesting content, probably because comparing synonyms and their nuances is usually not done anywhere, at least not in dictionaries. – Earthliŋ Jun 15 '16 at 11:52

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