For those I haven't yet met, I'm Tim Post, the Director of Stack Overflow Communities here at Stack Exchange.
A little over a year ago, Portuguese Stack Overflow opened to a wildly successful public beta. Shortly after, Japanese Stack Overflow along with Russian Stack Overflow followed suit in becoming very strong communities where programmers get stuff done, and we couldn't be prouder of them.
I'm pleased to announce that we've finally hired a Spanish-speaking community manager, and that work on a Spanish site will begin within the next 30 days. More about this will be posted on our blog in the next few days.
We've also made translations a nearly community-owned endeavor through our partner Transifex. Anyone with time, skill and interest can help work on translations, while 'trusted' members of a new community review and approve them; very close to how things work on the site itself. The process still requires the support of a developer and community manager, but the quality of our translations and pace at which they're completed have significantly improved.
In the 'hopper' we've got a few more languages that seem like good candidates for localization from a technical standpoint. Turkish, German & Korean stand at the front. Since each new site is an enormous undertaking, our goal with each one is to reach the largest group of developers we're currently not serving as well as we should.
Deciding on the next language is not purely about how many people speak a language. It's more about how many developers speak a language, and aren't likely to be very proficient in English. There are also many technical, and sometimes political complications that we have to consider.
We're looking at years worth of data that we have in order to determine where the next largest net-win for developer inclusion might be. Fragments of this exist, such as TOEIC scores, but the best insight comes from our own data, as the largest active developer community in the world. We're making some interesting discoveries, and plan to share them publicly in the months to come.
What's next, and when?
After Spanish, it's going to be a bit of time before we're ready to take on another language. I can't say precisely how long other than much longer than I'm comfortable asking people to wait, while the Area 51 process itself continues to raise people's expectations.
What's important for everyone that has proposed Stack Overflow in another language is that we've heard you, and we know there's interest. If you propose something and it's closed, it's not us saying no. It's simply us saying not yet, and probably not for a while, but we're working on it.
When we're ready to start the next language, we will post here, and reach out to the folks that showed interest in the associated proposal. I wish we could do all of them, right now, because of how successful the sites we've completed have been. We'll keep working, and promise to keep folks abreast.