Babel extension

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The tower of Babel.

An extension for the Babel system has been developed by RobertL, and is in use on If we introduce this extension, we don't need hundreds of Babel templates. My question is, should Wikimedia use this extension? M.M.S. (talk)

The extension is now listed on the usability project nomination page [1].

(N.B. the Template:Babel system has been deprecated on meta since 2008 in favor of the user language system.)


What are the pros/cons of this method versus the current system? Cirt 18:10, 30 April 2008 (UTC) Okay - and what are the pros and cons of the new Babel extension system? Cirt 17:24, 2 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pros of current system[edit]

  • The meanings, colors, formats, etc. of the system can be set up individually, thus giving a more colorful and diverse picture of the world.

Cons of current system[edit]

  • duplication of efforts (copying and organizing templates), not warranty of template text and color scheme consistency across multiple projects.
As person who did part of described tasks, I'll definitely vote for usage of Babel extension instead of manual template maintenance.
EugeneZelenko 03:46, 2 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pros of the new Babel extension system[edit]

  • No duplication of edits
  • Color scheme consistency
    • Not true. You can have individual templates per wiki giving uniques individual colors and layouts. -- 21:57, 16 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Simple
  • en.wikinews will finally have a good babel system
  • It works well

Cons of the new Babel extension system[edit]

  • None
Anonymous101 16:29, 3 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

^Wrong :)

  • Lacks color scheme customisation
  • Would be yet more feature creep where it's not needed.

BarkingFish 00:33, 30 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • The extension (like the majority of individual systems) lacks a way to specify the predominantly passive understanding of a language. This is useful for:
    • Telling that you can be adressed in a language but are unlikely to easily or understandibly respond in it,
    • users not having a foreign keyboard, or with insufficient typing skills,
    • Signal that you want to be asked for unidirectional translations only,
    • etc.
  • This should be imho be combined with a level indicator. I suggest to fill that gap before activating the extension. --Purodha Blissenbach 23:25, 16 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]



If I understand it right, I support.The preceding unsigned comment was added by Zginder (talk • contribs) 13:37, 5 May 2008.

I would tend to Support this as well, would just like a little more discussion. Cirt 04:32, 7 May 2008 (UTC) See below. Cirt 23:17, 12 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This extension can be translated on M.M.S. 13:48, 8 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. --Eleassar my talk 12:55, 12 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support - it'll be useful. Carn 21:01, 5 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support - Much more useful than templates. Soxred93 04:38, 15 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support - Very beneficial for the smaller projects; it allows people to concentrate on things that really matter .. things like content :) GerardM 21:02, 1 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support Of course! SPQRobin (inc!) 21:08, 1 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment Comment Can't the extension be adjusted to use less categories? It's rather annoying to have to create hundreds of categories (a few for each language). Will the extension developer allow for the categories to work the same way as Meta's system? Cbrown1023 talk 22:20, 1 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes it already can ... GerardM 10:27, 2 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support Helps the smaller projects, no visible downside. A good sensible improvement. Durova 10:34, 2 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support per my above comment and so en.wikinews can finally have a babel system that is not making all the boxes grey by default and requireing the user to know enough of the language to say that they do not know it (which is useless if you want to say you do not speak the language). Anonymous101 16:31, 3 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support I've been tinkering with babelboxes for years longin for a simplified system. That'd make my day (and would be perfect for la.wikisource). - εΔω 17:56, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Support --Accurimbono 13:05, 5 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support --Fabexplosive The archive man 18:54, 7 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support -- A good way to standardise an essential piece of the fabric of our multilingual interface. John Vandenberg 01:51, 8 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support per above.--Kwj2772 01:55, 8 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support --Albamhandae 02:08, 8 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support per Anonymous101 and GerardM. Cirt 23:16, 12 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support Only pros with the new system, so... why not? Leo Johannes 15:44, 14 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment Comment Have messages about this discussion been written on all Village pumps? Leo Johannes 15:44, 14 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment Comment FYI: I have asked the devs to check the extension for compatibility with the hamsters (bugzilla:15308). If there is a positive reply, I am planning to open a poll for the implementation of the extension on all Wikimedia wikis. Any objections? --ChrisiPK 21:43, 25 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Given the support voiced above, I doubt there would be objection to this next step. Cirt 22:31, 26 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support Don't understand the hamsters' compatibility. Anyway, it will be a good implementation: some projects have no templates for certain languages, it's difficult to create templates in a language I don't understand to say I don't understand that language. -Aleator (talk) 15:44, 7 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support --Walter 21:05, 8 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support I was actually thinking of copying the templates by bot, but it seems like a waste of time and it would be much easier to use the extension. //Shell 17:24, 15 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • You cannot copy templates by bot. Almost all templates are having slight differences between wikis. There are only few, very small, sets of wikis with 100% identical templates each. --Purodha Blissenbach 23:30, 16 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Question Question: Can links be bold? Like "This user is a native speaker of English.". --Kwj2772 07:22, 23 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support --Ficell 11:43, 14 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support --Joonasl 09:53, 7 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support --Timming 15:36, 22 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support df|  19:56, 27 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support SupportKrinkletalk 08:02, 20 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support I was just trying to clean up templates at en.WS and it's a nightmare. Inductiveload 05:30, 12 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Support Vibhijain 15:08, 8 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • Oppose Oppose currents schemes, naming, numbering, and selection of codes are too incompatible between wikis. Unless the extension supports ISO639-3, and the about 15 current wrong or invented langcodes; and\or some official cleanup of them has been agreed upon, there is no point in enabling it in most wikis. It may be helpful for those Wikis that have no, or nearly no, Babel system set up yet, which is less than one third. But likely, these Wikis will have no or littel interested anyways. -- 21:57, 16 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    This would create a unified layout and color scheme for all wikis. I have not encountered many wikis that are using another term than "Babel". The extension does support ISO639-3. It will be helpful for all wikis, as almost no wiki has a complete set of Babel templates for all languages. Now with the SUL activated, there are more and more users creating accounts on projects whose language they don't speak. This did not happen earlier, as most people just edited as IP when they were contributing to a language they don't speak (e.g. correcting interwikis and so on). This results in an increased need for Babel templates, and especially for unified system for telling people which languages you speak. --ChrisiPK 00:01, 29 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • While I generally think, this extension is a good thing, I must say, it does not really support the codes beyond ISO 639-1, it only maps them to ISO 639-1 codes as it appears to me. See translatewiki:User:Purodha which starts with: {{#Babel|deu|… but displays: de-N, where I expected to see deu without -N. Having translated all the localization pieces of the extension, I can tell, that it does not allow to set ISO-1/2B/2T/3/WMF-private code treatment, nor color codes, nor formatting, or anything the like, in the MediaWki name space, which may not suffice to be accepted by 600+ diverging wiki communities. --Purodha Blissenbach 09:21, 4 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • I've read a bit in the source code. There is more localizable, than offered in translatewiki: - why?
    • It is imho atm impossible to have the Babel category names of the Asturian, Spanish, Euskara, Extremadurian, Ripuarian, and Portuguese Wikipedias built with the simple prefix+language-code+level-code+postfix logic that the extension is using. I believe it's possible to extend the extension so that it does support these Wikipedias, too. --Purodha Blissenbach 15:42, 5 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      In the ISO-639-6 the two character codes will become valid again. This means that codes like de will replace deu. All the languages that do not have a two character code will have their three character codes. Any linguistic entity that will be outside of the ISO-639-3 will have four character codes. GerardM 05:53, 10 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • My point of criticisms is that, it currently does not suffice to slip in as replacement for quite several of the existing Babel systems. I'll likely file a bug report describing these problem cases in greater detail, and try to fix them at some time in the future. --Purodha Blissenbach 03:09, 16 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Buenas noches profesor Otegi nos puede ayudar a realizar el cambio del sistema de política social y económica en la sociedad creativa para el desarrollo sostenible verde de España. Assad al Bashar ola Assad (talk) 21:12, 28 June 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So the perfect is the enemy of the good ... sad. GerardM 08:57, 7 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
        • Oppose - per Purodha. Babel is customisable and unique to each wiki in its present form. This just serves to standardise a layout which has its own standards, and means people will have to wind up relabelling their babel levels. Leave it alone. BarkingFish 00:35, 30 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose - per this discussion. - Jc37 21:49, 4 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a non-issue as the level-0 can be disabled. Other projects then the English Wikipedia still use it and consequently it is not a valid objection as software supports more then just the English language Wikipedia. GerardM 08:55, 7 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • Question Question: Can I hide the "-N" in babelbox? If possible, How can I do it via CSS?--Kwj2772 08:48, 19 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • The "-N" is now wrapped in a span with the class mw-babel-box-level-N - you can use CSS display:none; to hide this. MinuteElectron 17:39, 23 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The Babel extension is being deployed on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 (bug 15308). If your wiki needs configuration or wants to opt-out, please enter a bug report. SPQRobin (talk) 13:13, 21 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See Talk:Babel extension#Deployed! for what to do next and how to fix the existing template mess.

Nice! Appreciate it. Bennylin 10:45, 6 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]