[Mediawiki-i18n] Length of messages in BetaFeatures

Siebrand Mazeland (WMF) smazeland at wikimedia.org
Wed Sep 4 17:59:53 UTC 2013

Hey Mark,

On Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 6:59 PM, Mark Holmquist <mtraceur at member.fsf.org>wrote:

> Hello again, i18n list!

Thanks for sending the mail. Hello to you, too ;).

> Today I'm here to bug you about a new extension, BetaFeatures[0].

Best thing since sliced bread!

> It's
> been high priority for me for the past few weeks, and it's coming to
> fruition very quickly. Quim and I were just chatting about translating
> it, though, and one of the strings (which is a description of a feature[1])
> is very long, longer than one might expect for a translator to follow.

If you re-read this sentence, I think you may notice what's wrong, and what
needs to be fixed. Ignore and read on for less of a puzzle :).

> I'm wondering what the possible solutions are, for this. There will be
> multiple features registered in the weeks to come, and it will be other
> projects registering the features, not BetaFeatures itself. The messages
> will likely be created in other repositories. So I'll need a recommendation
> for those developers to avoid irritating translatewiki.

If there is a need to use a lot of text, a lot of text should be used. In
case of the beta features, I think we should consider taking a hybrid
approach. Make it as brief, international English and concise as possible
descriptions of features. Give the features a title, as those are used to
easily refer to the features (Flow, Notifications, ULS, Content
translation, ...). Gadgets descriptions[2] are a good example, I think.

If you think you need the following amount of text to describe a feature:

This is for the daring, intrepid early adopters who want to see every
single experimental feature as it rolls out. Your account will
automatically get the latest features when they come out. You can always
come back to this page to disable the ones you decide not to use, but this
will give you the most bleeding-edge experience on the site.
 ... consider thinking some more. Does this say about the same, and conveys
the same concept requiring less time of the user?

[checkbox] Automatically use all experimental features.

Some explanation:
- Sentence 1 and 2 appear to be slightly redundant and unnecessarily wordy.
- Sentence 3 is. IMO, a superfluous explanation of what a checkbox can do.
It would be overkill to add this to each and every feature description. If
you find it's really important for users to point out that a preference
that was enabled on this location, can also be disabled here, consider
adding it in the header of the special page, as the tip goes for all the
feature descriptions.

> Your help here is very much appreciated - we're looking to get this
> extension
> out and deployed in the very near future, so it would be great to push
> a new way to translate these longer messages very soon.

Short strings are skipped less often than longer strings. Users don't read.
Two important reasons to keep things brief and clear.

> [0] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:BetaFeatures
> [1]
> http://multimedia-alpha.wmflabs.org/wiki/MediaWiki:Betafeatures-auto-enroll-desc


Siebrand Mazeland
Product Manager Language Engineering
Wikimedia Foundation
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