(I am using Arabic as a reference language because it's clearly the most relevant to the site; I see no reason the same idea can't be used for Urdu or Farsi or any other language in which there is a large amount of untranslated Islamic resources)
It is known that there is a lot of Islamic information out there in Arabic, much of which has not been translated (or translated clearly) into English. There is a lot of demand for English-language resources, as many western Muslims are not fluently bilingual.
Many users write posts referencing Arabic-language resources already, which is great (as long as the post is standalone enough for an English user). To me, that's one of the core advantages of this site, is that it's improving the corpus of information for English users; every Arabic language fatwa or article referenced, summarized and/or explained is one more new piece of information that is now available in English.
Google translate, unfortunately, is laughably terrible at working with Arabic, which leaves the bulk of this information difficult to access.
While the site itself is clearly to be on the topic of Islam, rather than an Arabic-English translation service, one wonders whether making such translations on-topic would be a constructive use of the site.
- Demand: There are a lot of English-speaking Muslims who would benefit from an influx of English-language material.
- Answerable: Translation is more art than science, but while there may be multiple ways to translate something, whether it's right or wrong is easily judged (and voted).
- Experts: We have (or are expected to build) a community with a not insignificant number of experts who are both bilingual and knowledgeable in Islam.
- Distracting: A lot of translation questions may distract from the actual questions about Islam which are supposed to be our meat and potatoes. We are not a translation service.
- Copyright: I'm not sure exactly how copyright laws work regarding translation, especially not in the US. We would very possibly need to have very clear guidelines (i.e. summarize, rather than direct translate) to not fall afoul of them.
- Quality: Opening the floodgates thus would potentially hit the site with a lot of low-quality questions ("What does fatwa #12220 say," "What does fatwa #12221 say," What does fatwa #12222 say," ad nauseum)
- Core Audience: We want to attract experts in Islam, and seeing a bunch of translation questions would potentially bore them away. Translation is basically grunt work, not scholar work.
I honestly don't know if it's a good idea or not, but it seems like it has potential; I figured I'd let the community have a stab at this one. Does this seem like something we want, and if so, is it something that we can do constructively?