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Translation strategy

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

What is this trying to do?


Making sure that products, technical documentation, important texts about the movement and time-sensitive information for the communities have a bigger chance of being translated.



The Wikimedia movement is an international movement supporting communities in more than 270 languages. It constantly creates new products that need interfaces and preferably documentation in all languages or at least as many as possible. The Wikimedia Foundation, as well as others, try to reach out to all wikis by sending them messages. Too often, this is done in English rather than the local language, the result being that the messages are both alienating and difficult to understand, especially when using advanced vocabulary. Effective communication is heavily dependent upon the target audience's ability to understand simple English. The Wikimedia translators do a heroic job, but there is rarely time to translate everything that would need to be translated, and coverage differs much, depending on language. The movement needs to get more things translated and not to put too heavy a burden on the existing translators.



Ease of translation


We should make it easier to translate. This can be achieved in technical and non-technical ways.

An important first step would be the creation of a glossary for both Wikimedian and high-frequency technical terms, hurdles that can cause a translator to lose interest and abandon a translation, to help translators in different languages.

Targeting non-Wikimedians


There are many ways to get into the Wikimedia movement, as we have many different needs. We are not always very good at fronting them. We should have more information aimed at translators, give a short introductions to translating for the Wikimedia projects and guiding potential contributors to different types of translations: content translations, technical translations and Meta translations. The aim is to reach out to people who are interested in translating, such as students of translation or people who would like to be translators but are unaware that we would appreciate their help.

Targeting Wikimedians


Information about how to translate is spread out across different places. For example, translation requests exist, but are focused on Meta. We need a single place which we may keep up to date. Those interested in translations could go there to find out more on whether the actual work will take place on Meta, MediaWiki.org, Translatewiki or their local Wikimedia wiki.



There are currently at least four methods to do translations within the movement: You can copy the text and translate it manually while creating a new page on your wiki, you can use the content translation tool to translate content, you can use the translation extension on e.g. Meta or you could go to translatewiki.net, which uses the same method but requires a new account and is subject to approval. We should be better at defining the needs, lacks and strengths of these tools for our specific purposes.

To take into consideration


The raison d'être for the Wikimedia movement is to spread information, which is done by editors who in their spare time work on the Wikimedia projects in different ways. The Wikimedia Foundation exists to support this network of sites and the persons who work on them. While we depend on the translators and their contributions are invaluable for our ability to function as an international and multilingual movement, we need to ask the question to which degree we ought to encourage editors to take time off from editing the content wikis – the things that people read and that actually spread knowledge – to translate internal documentation and communication.

To do in the short term

  • Create a glossary (T129088)
  • Write down information to help non-Wikimedians get into Wikimedia translations
  • Collect the translation information that's spread out across the movement

See also