Jun 262007

Now that I’ve had some sleep, and I’m starting to gradually win out over this cold I’ve got, it’s time to actually write a bit about what we discussed at the Paris developer day related to MDC localization topics.

Before we even started, Nukeador and I had a long discussion over lunch, and he suggested that we create a template that could be applied to all translated pages that would compare that article’s last modification date against the last modification date of the original English article; if the English article has had a major change since that date, the template would throw up a banner indicating that the article isn’t in sync with the English version and include a link to that.

This is a fantastic idea, and is one that I intend to pursue very soon.

More immediately, I’m going to be working on migrating the bits I have about localization in my user pages on MDC into the MDC: namespace where it belongs.  We need to make more of an effort to promote our need for more contributors to participate in the localization work.

Other ideas that came out:

  • We should look at ways to make translating more fun, by staging “events” such as group meet-ups where translators get together in one place and hack on translations together.  This would increase the feeling of community participation.  We could also have contests, perhaps with some prizes, to add to the fun.  This would be especially helpful as we push to get Firefox 3 documentation completed, for example.
  • There should be pages listing the articles that are most in need of being translated for each language, so that people that want to contribute to the localization work know where to begin.
  • It might be fun to come up with a scoring system that compares the progress made by each localization team, so that they can compete to see who can do the best work fastest.
  • We can help ensure quality by offering readers the ability to rate articles, either by using a star system or by a small selection of questions such as “Did this article help you?” and “Was this translated article clearly translated?”
  • Perhaps we could add an indicator of some sort to the main page for each localization that uses some algorithm to determine how well translated that language is, possibly weighted by page views.  This would help offer some positive feedback to localizers as to their progress, and would also help show readers how we’re doing.
  • It was pointed out that once the main page is translated, along with all the pages that it directly links to, it can be easy to become complacent because the localized site “looks done.”  We could prevent that by adding some dynamic links to the main page, so that the links change each time it’s loaded.  These could include links to the top viewed articles in various categories, randomly selected articles, or something like that.
  • We need to make more use of the tools created by MDC Japan, and promote them better.  Part of this would be to create localized instructions on their use.
  • We should get schools to help.  Just like Seneca students help contribute to the English documentation, we could find schools around the world to contribute to the localization effort.  This would be especially good if we could arrange for students to receive course credit for the work.
  • While reading our documentation, readers should be made aware that they can make changes if they see errors.  Some sort of reminder in the header, sidebar, or other place in the browser would help spread the word.
  • When articles (or a set of related articles) are undergoing heavy editing, we should consider locking them in the localized versions so that translators don’t get frustrated by having to deal with constant revisions, only unlocking them when the English version is done, so that they can translate all the changes at once.
  • Find a way to identify specific paragraphs that are obsolete in a translation, and offer the ability to show the original and revised English paragraphs, as well as an edit box for revising the paragraph in the localization.  This would help translators immensely.
  • Add an indicator to the wiki that shows how many times the page has changed recently, or some similar indicator to show how stable the page is, so that localizers know when a page is stable enough to be safely translated.
  • Offer a button that can be clicked on the localized version of an article to display how many times the English version has changed since the last change was made to the localized version.

Gandalf took extensive notes as well, and they’re worth looking over.

In all, there are some great ideas here and I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of them!

 Posted by at 10:36 AM

  3 Responses to “Localizing MDC: ideas”

  1. I’m sending an email to MDC mailing list at this moment with the Spanish Team ideas. Maybe we can put them in a MDC special page later.

  2. I think that having a “% complete” competition would be great – but to me, it’s vital that the scoring system consists of creating the percentage by adding up the total number of hits (across all languages) for pages which are translated, and dividing by the total number of hits.

    In other words, the hit count weights the value of each page. This produces all the right incentives – people translate the most popular pages first, in order to get the biggest boost, and new localisations can’t stay stuck at 2.5% for ages, because just doing the few most popular pages will give them a kick start.

  3. I agree totally, Gerv.