Handling categories and languages

Other questions:

  • how can we coordinate languages so that categories are not totally different from one language to another?
  • how to avoid zombie categories, when there is not enough participants to sustain more than an English version?

I imagine a top level per-language category could work. But I don’t know enough of Discourse to be 100% sure, the devil of complexity may be in the details.

Also, we need to take in consideration that some themes are more popular in some languages and non-existent in others. Here is where I suspect tags can help alleviate the category-creation-need and opt for a more organic growth, where only when there is a significant volume of topics around the same theme that become distracting for other topics in the same category, we create a new subcategory for that.

How to make decisions about this? I guess we’ll have to rely on language-communities to self-organize and decide what’s most effective for them, rather than a global policy?

For specialized topics (outdoor , or node networks for instance ), a multi language sub forum wouldn’t hurt to harmonized tagging practices , I think .

… if we start with language communities right ahead, then I fear we loose some opportunities for global discussions .

Note that a multi-language category would mean people tracking o watching the category will get notifications in all languages, which might not be ideal for average user.

I’ve taught UX design, so I can see what you’re trying to do :smiley: Unfortunately, on this topic my imagination as a user is too limited to produce anything vaguely credible. If I resort to magic though, I can perhaps try something.

Imagine a magic technology that translates texts from any language to any language. Then, my ideal solution would be a unified forum with a set of meaningful categories and tags that I would choose according to my interests, including some for world regions. And all messages would be presented to me in my native language.

Alternatively, comparing to my experiences as a computer programmer, another ‘ideal’ world would be one where everybody speaks English. Once again, a unified forum with categories for world regions but the forum would be 100% in English.

In the real world now… let’s see if clever ideas emerge. I liked the idea of one server per language because it would be easy to select your favorite languages (just connect to the corresponding servers) , but I’m sure there are various drawbacks to that. And it probably does not help much with local tag-cultures.

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Magic technology:


This has been discussed on OSMUS slack channel #discourse-community-rollout:

The point of contention seems to be who will pay for the translation (I nominate HOT because they have a ton of money and have a mission dedicated to community development) I personally don’t believe we should create any language specific forums on this site until we try out that plug-in. I see it being a huge missed opportunity if we continue to fragment the community around language when there are other options to test out.

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Thanks for the feedback and description of language barriers, I’ve moved the messages under the existing topic talking about languages and categories.

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… or we could get sponsorship for this.

I think there’s at least a chance we get sponsored, it’s a worthy pursuit. But if not just a sliiiiiice of this budget would suffice, I think. Especially when HOT are so vocal about the importance of localization I don’t see why they wouldn’t support this.

Perhaps the biggest barrier is the (all-volunteer?) operations team whether or not they have the time to implement the translator and test it. Who here is on the dev side of this? Is it feasiable to implement? @nukeador?

HOT has been experimenting with a translator plugin over its loomio instance in the past months, I’ve asked for some learnings and insights.

From my observations is a nice thing to have but it doesn’t replace the language or country specific spaces. I’ll get some input from the people leading this effort to inform this conversation.

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@nukeador thanks for that. Please keep us posted. I see it being something extremely worthwhile to test out, so we can make judgements if it’s sufficient to replace language-specific forums. Once we create those language-specific forums there’s no going back.

I’ve a feeling to just test out the translator plugin won’t incur enough words (translators charge by # of words translated) to go above a free tier. So I resubmit, that the biggest barrier seems to be on the tech side to give the implementation a try. Or perhaps the will to try it out. Anyone else think it would be worth it? Who among us is able to make it happen/give it a shot, and are they willing? In the spirit of not suggesting anything I won’t do myself I’m happy to help out on the tech side.

Would also like to add, I don’t think it will replace region specific spaces, but I think it could surely replace language specific spaces. For example the France forum most of the posts are likely to be in French, but if I want to post a topic there (my french isn’t so tres bien yet :innocent:) I can do so in English and those who aren’t bilingual can have the option to translate and still be part of the discussion.

Usually on local communities channels I know foreign language is not common, but usually welcome, answered and translated as needed.
Welcoming multi language participation on this instance by proposing a translation tool surely is a broader message than building small fortresses .


Glad to have your and a few others support on this.

You’re for sure right that posts in foreign language on a regional forum isn’t all too common. Where the plugin will really shine is by allowing engagement of non-English speakers in global discussions, and enable cross community collaboration even when there is no common language.

Such a translation feature should be a high priority for this global multi language community.

I hear that auto-translation is still less than magic. Maybe we should keep thinking about an architecture for multiple languages, just in case that some contributors still feel the need to create language-specific channels?

Sure, see it as a fallback even if it gets better and better.

We can imagine things today that were unbelievable 15+ years ago when fluxBB or the mailing-lists started.

We should take some time to experiment the translation plugin, because it may reshape the architecture of this forum.

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My 2 cents working with similar plugins:

Yeah, machine translation is not perfect, and note that not every language is supported. There are real limitation for medium and small size languages who are often the ones that need the most.

Having a machine translation plugin is something we can test-out and see how it goes, but in my experience that is not a replacement for language specific spaces, a native experience is way easier for people who don’t speak other languages.

Imagine having to click through all messages to read a medium quality version of them and then seeing your language is not fully supported, the contributor experience is not great. It might work well for major European languages (which have big enough communities to not need this), but not for everyone else.


Regarding how to accomodate different languages in categories or tags, some different approaches have been mentioned. I think one possibility hasn’t been mentioned yet and that would be to only use tags for that:

E.g. the topic “¿Cómo etiquetar la anchura del carril bici?” would be in the “Help and support” category and have the following tags: es cycling.
People that are interested in cycling can filter for the cycling tag and people who (exclusively) want Spanish content can additionally filter for the es tag.