[Mediawiki-i18n] [Wikitech-l] Special:Version and i18n & l10n

Gerard Meijssen gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Fri Jul 4 09:20:12 UTC 2008

When I read this post, it is obviously by someone for whom
Internationalisation and localisation is something of an after thought and
not a crucially  important feature of the MediaWiki software. The
characterisation of "developers continuously working on i18n, desperately
trying to keep them in sync - resources that would be much better spent on
developing new functionality and fixing bugs" makes it blatantly obvious
that internationalisation and localisation is considered secundary.

With more then half of the Wikipedia content in languages other then
English, it should be clear that these developers are working on probably
the most important feature of MediaWiki because their work affects more then
half of the content and when you look at traffic numbers according to Alexa,
48% of the traffic is for the non English language wikipedias. Localisation
is key for Wikipedia and for the Wikimedia Foundation. As these "desperate"
developers are volunteers themselves, as they have been able to increase the
quality of the localisation, as they have improved the localisation
environment for translators at Betawiki, as they have increased the number
of extensions that are now supported for internationalisation and
localisation I fail to see how they can be seen as desperate; they are
proving themselves to be among the most valuable developers we have. Their
work impacts more then half our users .

In conclusion, it is thanks to these developers and the localisers that
MediaWiki and Wikipedia is this useful. They maintain a cornerstone of the
MediaWiki software.

On Thu, Jul 3, 2008 at 10:12 PM, Jack Phoenix <wikia.jack at gmail.com> wrote:

> (cc'd to mediawiki-i18n mailing list too)
> In r30349, Raymond fixed bug 10365 (
> https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=10365), allowing
> Special:Version to be localized. However, I am not sure how smart an idea
> that was, since nowadays almost every extension has a description message.
> Why so?
> Firstly, let's have a look at WikiTextLoggedInOut extension (
> http://svn.wikimedia.org/viewvc/mediawiki/trunk/extensions/WikiTextLoggedInOut/
> ).
> It is a simple parser hook extension from Wikia I added on 30th of June to
> the SVN repository. It adds two parser hooks that show different output to
> the user depending on his/her login status. How simple is that? Well, it
> has
> a description message too. It is a simple parser hook tag that does not
> need
> i18n at all, unlike special page extensions and such do.
> Secondly, some extensions, such as the above-mentioned WikiTextLoggedInOut
> have only one message... the description message. Now, with the i18n file
> being added, the extension's i18n gets loaded on every pageload if the page
> has the extension tag. I am relatively sure that it slows things down.
> Maybe
> only a few milliseconds, but the point is that it can be avoided.
> Thirdly, what if the original developer wants or needs to change the
> extension description, upon adding or removing some features? That's right,
> some languages would see old messages with incorrect information while some
> other languages might have correct info. And users might end up trying to
> use a removed feature, which would obviously cause them frustration. After
> all, you cannot demand that volunteer translators do translations 24 hours
> per day. In fact, we already have several developers continuously working
> on
> i18n, desperately trying to keep them in sync - resources that would be
> much
> better spent on developing new functionality and fixing bugs.
> I have heard an interesting argument in favor of description messages: that
> they allow the wiki users to know what features are installed and what they
> can use. Now, I don't think that's true. The local help pages are for
> documentation and so are the extension pages on MediaWiki.org. If something
> should be done, the local admins/sysadmins should create a help page about
> the feature or announce it and maybe point the users to MediaWiki.org for
> more information if they don't create a help page or such.
> I have spoken to several fellow MediaWiki / extension developers, some
> native English speakers and some are not, but most of them seem to agree
> that the localization of Special:Version is "i18n gone bad". I have to
> agree
> with them, as description messages do not provide anything useful for users
> or developers - having, for example, the words "MWSearch plugin" in 39
> different languages (
> http://svn.wikimedia.org/viewvc/mediawiki/trunk/extensions/MWSearch/MWSearch.i18n.php?revision=36271&view=markup
> )
> is probably one of the most pathological examples. These extension
> description messages just cause extra stress for MediaWiki and the servers
> running MediaWiki. In the past, you could always find at least one English
> page on the wiki, no matter what its content language was -
> Special:Version.
> Now you have to add ?uselang=en to see the 'correct' version of the page.
> Another interesting and related point is the addition of core 'blank' page
> in r36856 (
> http://svn.wikimedia.org/viewvc/mediawiki?view=rev&revision=36856)
> by Domas. He added the blank special page as a baseline to profile startup
> times. He used to use Special:Version for profiling, but since it's
> overloaded with useless i18n crap now, it is no longer effective.
> If there is something that should be translated in Special:Version, it most
> certainly is not extension descriptions. It is the license text. And to
> avoid legal issues, it should have a hardcoded English string, for example,
> "The English version of the license can be found here" or something. As a
> user, I would like to know my legal rights rather than of what parts the
> software is made of.
> I believe that the description message / localization of Special:Version
> does more harm than it does good, plus it is pointless (as Rob Church
> correctly pointed out in his initial reaction:
> https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=10365#c1). I would request
> that this would be removed from core.
> --
> Jack Phoenix
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> Wikitech-l at lists.wikimedia.org
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
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