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I had a blog which was written in my native language, but now I'm wondering if I should switch to english because of a wider audience given that the technical field's default language is English.

For sure, I want to share my knowledge, but at the meantime I'd like to get hired or be recognized from my peers. Reputation can be important and it can help in making my professional network larger.

Do you have any feedback?

Btw, my native language is french if that matters.

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closed as not constructive by gnat, Glenn Nelson, GlenH7, Karl Bielefeldt, MichaelT Feb 26 '13 at 22:27

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Welcome to Programmers. Please read the site's FAQ and guidelines to asking questions. This question really isn't about programming as it could relate to ANY professional who wanted to blog about their field. –  Walter Feb 7 '11 at 16:24
@Walter: Here you have got it wrong. In programming there is a universal language and programmers form a global community. In other professions it's much different. –  user8685 Feb 7 '11 at 16:27
I guess your blog will be about programming... –  pgras Feb 7 '11 at 16:38
@pgras, oh yes, sorry I didn't mention it but it was obvious –  Jérémy Feb 7 '11 at 16:40
Programming is one of the relatively few professions where blogging is pretty popular and often encouraged. I think this question is relevant to programmers in general over, say, doctors. –  Anna Lear Feb 7 '11 at 18:31

11 Answers 11

Blog in English.

Job-wise it will demonstrate your ability to communicate to the largest audience possible and consume from the largest source of information and knowledge available.

I've also been blogging in English which is not my native language. I find it's better to make my writings accessible to everyone without building barriers. It may also sound funny but I express my programming-related thoughts in English much better than in any other language - I've learned hugely from English books and documentation and I've adopted their terminology. I'd be striving hard now to translate many concepts and ideas even into my native language.

Anyway I somehow feel if the folks are unable to read an English blog, they're probably not in a good position to appreciate the content even if it were in their native language, for the simple reason their language barrier has likely kept them in isolation from the ideas and happenings filling the programming air.

Ah yes, and something very important forgotten - writing in English will help you bring up your English skills.

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-1 Seriously, if someone can't read English then they can't appreciate a blog in their own language? Wow... just wow. I guess if they can't read English literature then they can't appreciate literature in their own language as well? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Feb 7 '11 at 16:29
Seriously. Because due to the language barrier they have lived in isolation from the global happenings. –  user8685 Feb 7 '11 at 16:31
@Developer Art, I agree with you on most of your point, I think that you need to understand English to be a good programmer, maybe my english is not as good as my native language but for me it's a requirement as most of the docs, code snippets, etc. are written in english. –  Jérémy Feb 7 '11 at 16:31
+1 - English is the defacto language for technology/computers. If you're going to be writing about programming, you should do it in English - or you'll be dealing with confusion where people translate some keyword differently to how you have done. –  TZHX Feb 7 '11 at 16:44
@Dave: I guess it depends on the audience. My audience has certainly been forgiving, I had only one rude visitor pointing to the grammar imperfection in the whole time. Don't let that stop you just start out. –  user8685 Feb 9 '11 at 12:47

Is there any reason why you couldn't do both - side by side? Then you wouldn't lose your existing French readers, but could gain new readers. It might also help some of those French readers improve their own English.

You need to work on your English grammar first though based on this question.

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Writing in both language is time consuming... –  Jérémy Feb 7 '11 at 16:27
+1 "For sure, I want to share my knowledge" - the "for sure" part is completely redundant. –  jmo21 Feb 7 '11 at 16:28
I'd rather read a blog of a nice person with bad grammar than that with the perfect grammar of a rather rude guy. -1. –  user8685 Feb 7 '11 at 16:29
+1 if you already have readers who read in French, you don't want to alienate them. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Feb 7 '11 at 16:29
It's a totally new blog for a totally new life, so no worry about that. –  Jérémy Feb 7 '11 at 16:33

If you asked me a couple months ago I'd say "do it in English" but overtime I learned that might not be the best answer.

After thinking for a while I eventually decided to write all my blogs in my native language for a couple reasons:

  • Writing in my native language will reach more people in my country (I will reach both English and native speakers), which is my main target;
  • I get to differentiate myself from all other writers around the world who write only in English; if there are 100k developers writing blogs and only about 1k in my native language, it will be easier to get more popular If I'm one between 1k writers compared to 1 between 100k;
  • Reaching a specific audience very well is more important than reaching a broader audience (with less impact);
  • Some people will more likely contact me because I speak the same language instead of another blog writer speaking a foreign language;

So I guess it really depends who you're trying to reach. Broader audience not necessarily means English speakers. If you put more focus on your articles and work hard on the quality of what you're writing you might be able to reach more people without worrying about which language you're using. That definitely should be your main focus. If you feel you can't write in English as well as you can in your native language then you should not write in English.

You might not agree with my arguments here but it's important to note I have specific reasons which might not be the same as yours. I just wanted to add some reasons you might consider to not write your blog entries in English. If you don't agree with any of them, then you probably should write your posts in English since there's no other argument against it.

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While I don't disagree with your (very good) points, there's at least one benefit to blogging in english that can't be achieved by blogging in another language: it's easier to be discovered in english because most of the people in the programming field will perform searches in english. –  mbillard Feb 7 '11 at 18:26
@GoodEnough I kind of agree but if you're using then french pages will come first... that's another advantage if your main target is within your country –  Alex Feb 7 '11 at 18:28
I understand but even if you're using, searching for "how to convert an int to a decimal", it's unlikely that a blog post in french will come first. –  mbillard Feb 7 '11 at 19:10
As a french user I mostly use, in english, even for french search. –  Jérémy Feb 7 '11 at 23:39
I think you got the part about audience wrong. You haven't just increased you changes to be discovered from 1/100,000 to 1/1,000, you've also decreased your audience. Probably more than the 1:100 factor you're gaining. –  kba Feb 26 '12 at 5:23

Any sufficiently proficient programmer can read English (same deal as Latin for doctors).

So, if you will write about sufficiently advanced programming subjects then write in English

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That's an interesting remark! especially the parallel with doctors. –  Jérémy Feb 7 '11 at 17:46
I doubt that doctor can read Latin. They do happen to use latin names, but as for the grammar and syntax... –  Matthieu M. Feb 7 '11 at 20:01
@Matthieu, you don't need to know that much English grammer to read english, however I agree that doctor only use latin for names. –  Ian Feb 8 '11 at 12:48
And yet there are so few med blogs in Latin ... –  Brian Rasmussen Feb 21 '11 at 11:16

The answer depends entirely on what you want to achieve with the blog. Who is your audience?

Choose English if you want to:

  • Reach a wider audience
  • Demonstrate your proficiency in English
  • Practise your English
  • Respond to other English web sites
  • Allow the blog to take up a lot of your time
  • Build a blog to market yourself and your ideas
  • Generate income from your blog

Choose French if you want to:

  • Use your blog as a personal programming diary
  • Reach a local audience - to generate local job offers, for example
  • Easily to express yourself
  • Reiterate what other web sites say in your own words
  • Avoid the addition language work because you don't have time for it
  • Blog for fun

Write in the blog in both English and French if you want to:

  • Reach the widest possible audience
  • Spend a lot of time on your blog.

Of course, hybrid solutions are possible.

  • You might try English and French in the early days, just to see which works best.

  • You could do some entries in English, some in French and some in both. (If you go this route, I suggest two different blogs)

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Depends on your intended audience. If you blog about things in general, use your native language. If about technology then use English.

The language of technology (engineering and computing) for better or worse, seems to be English. The widest audience across all languages, nationalities, regions, and peoples FOR TECHNOLOGY is English. (Whether this is good or bad is not relevant, this is how it is.)

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I blog both in my native language (portuguese) and in english.

Since I have a single blog running with Jekyll, I use tags to differentiate the posts.

  • en for english articles
  • pt-br for portuguese articles

I still don't know if this strategy makes my readers happy.

I guess I'll just have to find out with time.

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So, it's been a while. Do you know, now, if your users are happy with it ? –  niahoo Nov 27 '13 at 11:00
Also wondering about that, since I am asking myself the exact same question: should I blog the technical things in english and the rest in german, or keep everything in one language. –  pduersteler Jan 28 '14 at 21:44
I've already made my mind: technical stuff I do in english. Personal stuff, in portuguese (my native). –  Daniel Ribeiro Jan 29 '14 at 0:18

It depends. Do you speak/write English well? (Based on your question, you're fairly proficient.) If you are, sure, why not? Maybe blog in both languages. It can even be a decent way to practice your English skills.

If you're not comfortable writing English, though, I wouldn't bother.

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Depends where you live and work.

If you live/work in France/Canada etc. then your peers are all going to speak and read French and thus it makes little point in switching to English.

If you want to impress or get contacts in the English speaking part of the world then an English translation may be nice but maybe just a link to a babel fish translation would be sufficient.

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I seriously doubt it... French is notably difficult to translate: In a hierarchy of classes, an authority d' a class girl perhaps used in place and place d' an authority of the class mother., can't even begin to explain OOP :/ –  Matthieu M. Feb 7 '11 at 20:06
@Matthieu M: Which bit do you seriously doubt? The auto translation? –  Loki Astari Feb 7 '11 at 20:34
I've to agree, most of the time french to english translations suck especially with complex and long sentences that we like to use in France :-) –  Jérémy Feb 7 '11 at 23:41
yes sorry, the auto-translation part. Blogging in French is effectively more attractive to French speaking readers (which might include a number of Africans actually, since France had a lot of colonies in Africa) than yet another English blog. –  Matthieu M. Feb 8 '11 at 7:18
@Matthieu M.: Hence the etc in France/Canada etc –  Loki Astari Feb 8 '11 at 17:30

English - If you're targeting large audience across the world. Also you can put Google Translation tools in your website to support multiple languages. I started blogging to improve my communication skills and language usage. Ultimately it depends on the targeted audience and which language you're comfortable. e.g. Japanese may not prefer reading stuffs in English. they get most things out there in your language.

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T think you should blog in English . I opines so because English is a language that is universily acceptable. Most of the persons use English in one or the other way, so a kind of understanding is developed easily.

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