Proposing to drop the wiki translations


(Dennis Schubert) #1

Back in 2013, when adding translations to the wiki was proposed for the first time, it looked like we did not feel really comfortable with the idea, given the initial proposal to add translations passed with only 60% approval. The main concern always has been the apprehension that translated contents will be outdated very quickly and significantly lagging behind diaspora*s development. We still tried it, and provided support for translations shortly after the proposal.

After more than a year in, it was proposed to disallow translating the installation guides, with the main reasoning being an overall bad adoption of wiki internationalization and issues with maintaining compatibility to the English versions.

Now, almost five years after the initial proposal, we’ve seen a lot of content changes and probably are able to judge the situation better than we have been back then. So, after some reoccurring issues in regards to the state of translations in the wiki, I am hereby proposing to stop translating the wiki and to completely drop all existing translations.

I’m basing this proposal based on the bad state of translated contents. Contrary to our translation teams for diaspora* and the project website, the wiki does not see much love. After five years, here is the state of our multi-language wiki as of right now.

In total, 23 pages are translated into one or more languages. Overall, attempts have been made to translate the pages into 12 locales (ar, cs, de, el, eo, es, fr, it, ja, nl, pt, pt-BR, ru). Yes, we have two different versions of Portuguese, so actually, we support 13 languages.

There are 87 non-English page versions in the database right now. Distributed evenly over the 23 pages with translations, each page is translated into 3.78 languages on average. So by no means are translations complete, but rather, some pages have been translated into some languages, while other pages have been translated into other languages. The only page on which the language bar does not contain more red links than actual content is the main page.

The average lag between the English versions and the translations, that is, the time time difference between the latest English change and the translations, is 221 days. In a prefect world, the average would be negative, since translations should, in theory, be newer than their English originals. In fact, some articles are indeed more recent than their English counterparts. If we only take the outdated pages into account, the average delay is 399 days. The most outdated article lags a whopping 1520 days behind its English counterpart.

In realty, the lag would probably be higher, but the average got uplifted by a lot since, last summer, @waithamai went through all the translations and replaced any mention of Loomio by Discourse, as not a single translation had caught up by then.

To me, the entire situation feels like we’re trying to give the impression that our wiki is available in more than one language, when the opposite is true. Most pages are not translated, and even if they are, a lot of them contain heavily outdated or incomplete information.

Ultimately, I believe it would be better to go back to a English-only wiki. The wiki is mostly used by technical people and podmins, since a lot of workflow descriptions and architectural details are documented there. For end-user communication, we have our website (which looks far better in regards to translations) and the in-application help. Therefore, I think we would not cause any real negative impact by deciding the wiki is an English channel, just like this Discourse is.

Opinions on this matter would be highly appreciated.


In case you want to reproduce my numbers, the script used to generate the statistics in my proposal has been published on GitHub along with some basic instructions on how to use it. Please note that I emergency-changed some articles, so some numbers may be slightly different, but the overall picture looks the same.


(Comrade Senya) #2

We have some wiki pages which are well-translated, don’t change often and contain a lot of useful info. Mostly these pages are documentation for users.

For example
https://wiki.diasporafoundation.org/FAQ_for_users (though the English version cotains “out of date” bage)
https://wiki.diasporafoundation.org/Choosing_a_pod
https://wiki.diasporafoundation.org/Welcoming_committee
https://wiki.diasporafoundation.org/How_we_communicate

These pages have decent Russian versions.

While it’s acceptable to have developer/contributor/podmin documentation just in English, I think that documentation on diaspora usage must be translatable. We shouldn’t expect all potential diaspora users to know English. That’s why we translate our UI. And that’s why we should have the documentation available on different languages. It happens sometimes that people ask questions about diaspora and there should be a way to provide a link to documentation in a language they understand.

I agree that “translatable pages” approach which is used in the wiki is not a really good one, since it is hard to track what changed where. Instead of just removing translation feature in the wiki, we could create an alternative. We could make a “Diaspora user/community guide” and use Webtranslate it for tracking translations for it. And we could then move all the community and userdoc related wiki pages to the guide along with translations.

P.S. Maybe there are more advanced tools than Webtranslatedit and maybe we can find something better for translating user guides, but that is another question.


(Dennis Schubert) #3

Thanks for your reply.

The German version is from 2015, the French version is from 2014, the Dutch version is from 2014, the Portuguese version is from 2014, the Russian version is from 2013. The last change to the English version is from August 2017‎, and added a section about ignoring users, which is a frequently asked question, which all users should be able to have access to.

As outlined in my proposal, we already have end user documentation on the website, and we have the in-application help. If we think they need improvement (which they do.), then we should work on these. As a bonus, if a certain section is not translated, we’ll just fall back to the English version here, and while that’s not perfect, it is far superior to what we have on the wiki. Those two instances (both the in-application help and the website) get a lot more attention from translators, are more up-to-date, and ultimately, should be easier to find for users.

If not, we should work on that, and not use that as an excuse to maintain contents of poor quality in a wiki.


(Comrade Senya) #4

Well, I think we should move some of the pages along with the English version to these places. For example “Choosing a pod” is something that fits well as a part of the tutorial. We don’t need this page as a wiki page then.

This page is pretty close to this one. Maybe we should combine this to a single page in the tutorial then?

So every page in the wiki where it was reasonable to make translations shouldn’t be in the wiki even as an English page. It should go to tutorial/in app help.


(Deus Figendi) #5

I agree very much but I still see some problems (but I have ideas to solve 'em).

A general solution at first: there are mediawiki translation extensions which take care if the english default changes and displayes the english paragraph/section if it is newer but the translation.
Might be a solution if we decide NOT to drop the translations.

Now the problems…

Well okay, yes it was about user-related information… This as Dennis said could move into the software/project itself instead of the wiki.

Second is… I would feel sorry about the information and the work etc. So I would love to see that stuff archived. First I thought a second somehow unofficial wiki would solve this and then I thought a static website would do it too and then I had the brilliant idea: let’s use archive.org to archive those pages :smiley:

And the third point is: where are users suposed to write their tipps/articles/whatever. Usually they cant write it into the applications help because using git(hub) is just way more complicated but using a mediawiki.
My proposes are: let them do it. Let users write articles to the wiki in any language they want. Use some name-sceme for that (e.g. /ru:articlename/ or /articlename/ru/ ) but no special inter-lang extension or whatever.
Or let them do this in the user: -namespace. There is where tzey can write drafts in colaboration with other users etc. And they have a place to link to if they want to explain something. And in the end if the article is finished, someone could help bring it into the in-app-help.

Excuse typos, my keyboard is broken.


(Dennis Schubert) #6

That pretty much sounds like a good idea.

You mean, like that?

Well, no. We talked about this initially and everyone agreed that this would create an even bigger mess. I’m absolutely not a friend of this idea.

That has been done in the past and I see nor reason why it shouldn’t be done in the future. User namespace articles make it easy to spot that an article is not at all part of the official set of contents, while still allowing everyone to edit those pages. I see no reason to change that, and it’s most certainly not part of this discussion. :slight_smile:


(goob) #7

Thanks for starting this discussion, Dennis. I’m going to need to think further about this issue – just posting now so you know I’m not ignoring it.


(Jonne Haß) #8

I agree, let’s go into that direction. It’s useful to be able to generally link to individual FAQ items but the FAQs are also very stable by now, so there’s not too much risk in increasing the friction for updating them.


(Waithamai) #9

Back in 2013 translations were worth a try. There were some attempts and it looked like it could work. I thought maybe some language communities would form that would work on “their” pages. That never happened, for no language. Now, some years later, it’s clear it just didn’t work. Yes, there are some pages with okay-ish translations, but the huge majority is either only outdated or outdated and wrong.

Just as an example: Only one(!) language had replaced at least some of their links to loomio with discourse. When I tried to fix those, I found it was almost impossible because not only had the old links been broken from the beginning, but the pages also contained stuff that had nothing to do with the original, English version, and was just wrong. One translation was even describing how to use a feature in hubzilla instead of diaspora* - and nobody noticed for several years.

I went through all pages, English pages and translated pages (yes, all of them). I tried to fix them all but it just wasn’t possible. I categorized and sorted all pages and translations last summer (@denschub told me I missed three :cry:) and I deleted all obviously wrong pages. For the rest of them, I’m not sure whether they were ever correct or not but even if they were, they’re completely outdated by now.

This too doesn’t help if just nobody translates the wiki :wink: I’m monitoring all changes to the wiki. IIRC, there were only < 5 translation attempts within the entire last year (and those were not really helpful).

Yep. This too is difficult though. For example, most content from the User FAQ could be merged with the /help pages of pods and tutorials. The wiki FAQ contains more questions and answers them in more detail which is good - so somebody would have go through it, add useful explanations to /help, which could then be translated via webtranslateit… I was planning to work on it (this is why the wiki page contains the ‘outdated’ notice) but it’s a lot of work and I didn’t have time for this yet (planning to do it this summer ;)).

Using the user namespace for personal stuff, user projects, collaboration, or some translations is perfectly fine. The namespace makes it clear it isn’t part of the “official” wiki so outdated or wrong information are not such a big problem there.


We won’t lose any useful content by deleting translations from the wiki. We should instead work on fixing the existing English pages and merge some of them into help pages or tutorials - which then could be translated.


(Deus Figendi) #10

Yep, I’ve been just too lazy to check it on my phone (I wrote the post on my phone)
So if this is kinda up2date and complete it’s fine for archiving that content.

That is true it just helps translations not to outdate :slight_smile:
But I cannot find that extension anyways and this discussion allready has another direction, so I’d say: Forget about it.


(Comrade Senya) #11

So I think we should make these additional changes in wiki:

  1. We should make a note somewhere in the wiki that we don’t want end user documentation to be in the wiki
  2. Let’s create a badge for current end user doc pages that says “This page is end user documentation and should be merged with existing user guide and/or in application help. Please edit these instead of the wiki page”